Pakistani-American to Fellow Overseas Pakistanis: Go Back and Visit
By Riaz Haq
Guest Post by Rashid Ahmad

You should go back and visit. You would be surprised!
Pakistan in your mind may be frozen in time, but real Pakistan has moved on. Everything has changed.

You will find both familiarity and alienation there. It would appear to you like a dream. Or perhaps like being on Star Trek Holodeck, where things are familiar but there are new actors on the deck, and you are bit of a stranger.
First thing that would hit you would be the increase in population. Too many people everywhere, compared to the time you left Pakistan. Some areas that were farms and free spaces when you were there would now be occupied by new housing developments.
The physical appearances would have changed. There would not be any complete transformation to prosperity, but new buildings replacing the old ones, and new motorways, would change the physical reality.
You would find distances have shrunk. The places that seemed far away because you walked to them or went on bicycle, would appear to be so near because now you would travel by car.
Something would sting your heart a bit. Your home where you grew up, would now belong to someone else. When you were growing there, everybody knew it as your father's home, your home, but now if you were to ask directions to your home in your own Mohalla, they will refer to it as some strange family's home! It is your home only in your childhood memories.
You would meet someone, with white beard, bald headed, missing teeth, and perhaps walking with a cane, who would be introduced to you as your classmate. You would be blown away by the ravages of time, and be grateful for your own health.
A middle aged woman with young children would come to visit you. And she will turn out to be the daughter of a cousin or a friend, who was just an infant at the time you left Pakistan.
Almost anybody you meet would be younger than you!
And finally, as you relive the memories of your childhood, you may find a reason to visit again and again.
(Author Rashid Ahmad is a Pakistani-American civil engineer with a Master's degree from UC Davis. Ahmad came to the United States in 1970 and has since been living in Sacramento-Davis area in California)




Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.