From Fighting for Independence to Google Commemorating 71st Independence Day of Pakistan
Google presents a new Doodle for Pakistan's Independence
This 14th August was the 71st Independence Day celebrated by Pakistani’s, since the partition of United India, locally as well as internationally. Irrespective of the indifferent attitude of many Pakistani’s the year round, the day of Independence often serves the purpose of reawakening and uniting even those people, if only for a day. This day reminds us of the countless and irreparable sacrifices of our ancestors. As a little girl, I was always fascinated with stories of partition and wanted my grandmothers to be my connection with ancestors I could [and would] never meet.
I remember how my Dadi [paternal grandmother] would never want to talk about such incidents. She was always very sensitive when it came to feeling pain and heartbreak. Even though neither she nor any of her closest friends and relatives had experienced first-hand the atrocities of the times because they had migrated to Qasur, Pakistan before fights had broken out in India, they were still at the heart of it. This was the only thing she ever mentioned in front of me. The only detail she ever willingly shared with me [because she would often discuss such things with my parents and Nani but, always made sure not to talk in my presence] was that her mother, my great-grandmother provided shelter and safety to many women and children left without families and support. My Dadi would rather tell me stories of happier times, either of my family history or made-up stories which she was exceptional at.
However, my Nani [maternal grandmother] has always been the opposite, not only sharing tales of the partition with me but, also of Prophets and other stories from the Quran. Nani believes that we need to continue passing on our stories to be able to tightly hold onto our culture and roots, and most importantly to our history. She once told me about her Phupo [paternal aunt] having arrived in Lahore as the sole survivor in a train that had been raided on its way from India to Pakistan. She described in great detail how the Hindus and Sikhs stopped the train to kill any and every Muslim aboard the train. How her Phupa [Phupo’s husband, father’s brother-in-law], was killed in front of his wife for reciting the kalima, the shahada [declaration that Allah is one and Prophet Muhammad is the last messenger of Allah].
Moreover, Nani once described in apt detail the story of Sikhs raiding their village at night. She recounts how the parents locked their daughters on the roof with spices and boiling water to be thrown at those who would try to harm the girls. Although she remembers being very little, hardly five years old at the time, it is not something one can easily forget. She continued by telling, me how the girls had been told to jump off the roofs in case they could do nothing else because being taken away by the Sikhs was not an option.
It is all these things and more that make my heart burst with pride when I hear about Pakistan paving paths to success. Such is the case with celebrating the Independence Day. Although I have not experienced the heart-breaking and gut-wrenching events that my ancestors had to go through to get this separate homeland for me, my siblings and cousins, I feel connected to them in ways I cannot explain. With every passing year I feel even more grateful for their courage to stand up against the oppressor for their rights, but, I also feel a sense of deep-seated shame for not taking care of the beloved homeland many lost their lives and families for in the ways they had.
This brings me to the new doodle [Google has previously displayed doodles to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence] displayed by Google to commemorate the Independence of Pakistan on 14th of August. This doodle helped remind me of my history that cannot be forgotten. It reminded me of all the success we have been able to achieve as scientists and other professionals. It even reminded me of the promise I made to myself as a little girl after listening to such stories, the promise to stand with Pakistan through thick and thin.
The doodle may not seem like a big thing to many but, to me, it serves as a threshold connecting my past, my ancestors with my future and the descendants to come. The recent doodle reminded me of my Dadi and all the stories I still had to listen to, reminded me of my Nani and the promise to her to pass on these stories so that we may never forget, so, that we may continue to work for the progress and success of our beautiful motherland, Pakistan.
The Google doodle stands for peace and hope of a better future for me and hopefully for many other third-generation Pakistanis. It reminds me that saying Pakistan Zindabad is easier than working towards a thriving Pakistan but, regardless we must never give up on trying.