The Path Once Taken.

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Hard to believe now, but there was once a much better time. In the news today, among other things, what most disheartened me was the news of the bomb blast in Quetta targeting Shia Muslims returning from Iran. This news had the most impact on me, not because I belong to the sect, but rather because I too, a couple of years earlier had used the same route to travel to and from Iran.

Barely a teenager I accompanied my family consisting of 11 people in all to Quetta. Our bunch included my immediate family as well as an uncle and his family. There were young, there were old, religious, and not so but together we all set out.

Our plan was to visit Iran for pilgrimage to one of most sacred places for us, the Shrine of the 8th Imam Hazart Ali Raza (AS). The men of the family had taken time off from work, and so we were on a tight schedule. Therefore we refused to be a part of the ‘Kaflahs’ that usually take ignorant people like us to these revered places.

The 11 of us travelled to the beautiful city of Quetta without any fear. Another uncle being in the army, arranged for us, very comfortable lodgings in the army mess, where we spent the night merry-making and trying to write ‘Areezay’ – prayers on a piece of paper. With the adults all settled in for the night, us kids sat down to spill our deepest desires on that innocent paper, hoping that God could read our illegible handwritings.

The weird bunch in the once beautiful Quetta

I thought if I wrote mine in Urdu, I would get extra credit for trying and so we all penned away. While we refused to share our wishes, the general idea of what each wanted was there. Also because writing in Urdu, we each had to ask others how a particular word was spelt. And piecing together the entire wish wasn’t that hard.

The memorable night ended and the next day we set of to the bus stand to start our journey from Pakistan to Iran. The terrain was absolutely terrifying. The hills of the Chagai ranges so deserted I wondered how long if ever someone would take to find us if we got lost. There was absolutely no concept of a bus stand all the way from Quetta to Taftan. You had to be carrying food with you or else starve till you reach your destination. And don’t get me started on where people went ‘to relieve themselves’ on the way.

The terrifying terrain of Balochistan. On way to Taftan

There were however army checkpoints throughout. I know because my beloved uncle had made it sure that he received reports of the proceeding of his civilian family throughout the scary landscape. With numerous geography lessons from my mother going on in the background, to the loud Pushto songs the bus carrying me, went on its journey, unaware that many years later, people using the same pathway, for the same reason would be brutally murdered.

End of part one.

To be continued…..

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9 responses »

  1. *sigh* no one is safe in any place of Pakistan . Be it of any cast, creed, religion or any religious sect. What a pitiful n shameful era we are living in!

  2. That’s one vivid memory beautifully put into text 😀

    P.S. Im the one kid in white Tee, standing at extreme right behind that small kid 😛

    • haha the one with the ‘teyree gardan’ to make it more precise. Love you Hon, you made the journey so much better!

  3. Lovely, you really put across the sadness and yearning for simpler times, when one could just believe what they wanted without getting killed for it

  4. “Hard to believe now, but there was once a much better time.”

    This line explains it all.. I also want to explore the terrains of balochistan, par ye halaat daikh k himmat hi nahi bandh paati. par kabhi jaon ga to zarur. Inshallah

  5. this all makes me so sad..regardless of sect differences, we all love this country and miss the good times..my heart bleeds at this situation,still im and will not be among those who say that this country is no longer a place to live..and we should leave it as soon as possible..i wont be among that clan..this country is calling to us..and we have to respond positively..

  6. Thank you for sharing a part of your life with us through your post. You & your family seem happy on their pilgrimage. The photos also give life to this post and a provide a window into the journey that you took. I hope the people in Baluchistan and Pakistan get educated and start respecting people from different backgrounds.

    Also I wish and pray that the law and order situation here in Pakistan becomes better so that no matter who (whether Shia, Sunni, Muslim, Non-Muslim, Baluchi, Non-Baluchi) gets murdered or their property destroyed, the culprits are brought to justice.

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