This wasn’t the first time I visited Chakwal. I have been there many times before but this time around was different – much different. After all, I was visiting Pakistan after eight years. Viewing the city through an adult perspective had me analyze everything deeply and feel a profound connection with the land – my homeland.
I had spent years wondering if visiting Pakistan after all these years will change my perspective on this country that had a bad reputation in international media. In fact, it did. The moment I stepped out of the airport, I was surprised by this first incident that will forever be etched in my memory. The plane landed safely and on time in Islamabad – what more could I ask for?
All jokes aside, when I entered the public washroom at the airport, I saw this lady in blue uniform just sitting there. This was strange for me because I didn’t expect the caretakers to just be sitting there in the washroom while on duty. I smiled and said salam. She responded back and continued to ask me where I came from? “Are you from Saudi Arabia?” No. “Abu Dhabi?” No. I was surprised by their curiosity so I just asked – “why are you asking?” The woman smiled and said, “no reason in particular. May God keep you happy and may your destiny be a good one”. Again, I was a bit surprised at her willingness to strike a conversation with a stranger and end it with a sweet prayer for me. We ended the conversations with salaams and parted ways.
This was my first impression of Pakistan after 8 years. I fell in love with it again. That lady who had no relationship to me, who did not know me was willing to pray for me. That small act of sincerity won my heart and mind. It was in this moment that I realized that this 13 hour long crappy PIA journey was all worth it. I had become alive after 8 years.
(Picture: Overlooking the city of Kallar Kahar, Chakwal. 2016.)