"This is my home, this is my family and we had a family trust setup and I thought I will come back and do something better than your normal 9 to 5 job that I had for many years, very comfortable, very fun. I wouldn't say I am rotting. These are my people and these are my friends and their kids so more than just returning the favour," said Sabbah.
I live the typical life of an expatriate, a patriot but an expat. And, I reluctantly admit that like the majority out there, I am one confused expatriate. I want to go back to my homeland in a few years time, though the plans are getting affected due to the situation back home - but then the thought of other people (friends and family) existing back there hits me, that I am no special.
Anyway. The point is that reading the above lines by a family which went back to their homeland to serve their family rose some interesting thoughts inside me. The fact that I hail from a cosmopolitan, I was given the opportunity to know and mingle with people from a variety of contrasting backgrounds. From the majority Muslims to the minority Christians and Hindus and even the vanishing Zoroastrians/Parsis. And then if we go by castes, there are these eloquent Lucknawis, loving Beharis, expressive Punjabis, disciplined Gujratis (Bohras/Khojas), the fearless and strong hearted Pathans/Pushtoons, the sweet and mannered Hazaras/Baltis, the arts-rich Sindhis, and the list goes on! One gets a plethora of different customs and traditions to get to know and experience. where there is goodness in experiencing this vastness, there is a drawback as well. I am unable to relate to some specific part as my family, the way Sabbah Haji relates to in the lines above.
On one hand, I claim to be a soul which is unable to cling to certain specific ethnicity, that is, I love East and feel connected to it, but the way I perceive and want to exercise freedom, it makes me feel from to be the contemporary west. But, on the other hand, when I try to specify some group of people as my family, I sometimes end up being someone from Sheikhpura, Bihar which is in India - where my parents were born and where my extended family is from! Now this sounds totally strange, especially considering that my parents migrated more than 20 years before I was born, and that I only have been to India once, but I find that as the family which I can say is "my family, my people". Having been to India once when I was kid, I do realize that the group of people I am refering to are now disappearing - the last generation is slowly and gradually ending up - and the new generation are definitely different from the previous in their own way.
Now, when I try to focus and stay in Karachi within the realms of my mind, I find myself totally lost. I have had the typical middle-class, Nazimabad/North Nazimabad/North Karachi friends with migrant parents (Mohajirs) hailing from U.P. and Bihar provinces, I relate to them, of course, but then as I grew up and went to the university - I made more friends - Punjabis, Pathans, and Sindhis. All wonderful people. But, no one to connect with deeply - it is a vast sea where one loses his originality.
But, since Karachi is still the most I can refer to from where I am, I think about people like Ardeshir Cowasjee/Arif Hasan and their types, the stellar Karachiites who, though in their old age, are still fighting the evil and destructive forces within Karachi, to keep it sane, and the new breed like those of Muhammad Abdullah, founder of Karachi Tips, and they give me a sense of belonging to Karachi.
It is vast, and you have to have a big heart to relate to everything within Karachi and keep it as your family, the way Sabbah Haji said it for her homeland.
This is my home, this is my family. This is the place which has taught me everything about the vastness of this world. I have met world-class thinkers, the most loving chai-walas, some great scholars, the most simplest of people, poor and rich, happy and sad, and a lot more!
This is Gold, which sometimes falls into mud and doesn't glitter. Sometimes is a-lot-of-times lately, unfortunately.
Link for the story of Sabbah Haji's family here: http://ibnlive.in.com/news/nri-family-returns-to-jk-for-a-cause/251146-3.html