The news of the boy working at a Tandoor topping Punjab’s BA/BSc examination flamed a Tandoor of thoughts in my mind.
What does his countrymen have in store for him?
He was a private candidate, probably did not have enough money to afford university education. He must be a genius. He must be very talented. He must be very determined.
So was Sher Khan, the man from Banu who got a first division in BA and now drives a taxi in Dubai. His father also owned a Tandoor. He worked tirelessly to give Sher Khan school and college education. Sher Khan himself sold newspapers to make his parents and his dream possible. He did graduate with what he himself called flying colours.
Having graduated he wanted to work in a bank.
As per him he knocked each and every door but he did not have a reference. In despair he started teaching in an English medium school. The salary was satisfactory but his self pride was insulted regularly.
Teachers and students alike would mock his Tandoor background. He struggled to manage the students. His services were soon terminated as some parents had reservations about his background.
His parents were getting old. Their dreams shattered, they did not have the will to live. Sickness became their companion. He had other siblings to feed and educate.
An opportunity came to immigrate to Dubai as a driver. Happily he availed the opportunity. It was far better than living as a socially frowned individual in one’s own country.
The chat with Sher Khan in Dubai rekindled memories of a conversation with a fellow PhD student in Ireland. He was a professionally qualified accountant. He was trained at the best audit firm in the world. Now was pursuing PhD at the best private business school in Ireland.
We were exchanging notes about our families.
When James revealed his father was a carpenter, he jolted my myopic thinking about society and status.
How could the son of a carpenter achieve so much? How did he own a BMW? His place was somewhere in slums! Was it not?
On that Irish wintery evening too a Tandoor of thoughts was burning in my mind. Very similar to the one burning since last evening in the monsoons of Lahore.
That evening in Ireland I had felt a revulsion for myself. How could I, an otherwise educated girl have such biases. Who was to be blamed for my biases?
Last evening I had felt anxiety bordering on despair. Will this Tandoor man get a job? Will his dreams be realized?
Will this society respect him for his credentials or mock him for his background?
He must have struggled hard. He needs our respect and our support but will we a nation full of contradictions for once contradict ourselves and embrace a Tandoor man as one of us.
Why not? Let us do it in the spirit of the independence day.
It will make Pakistan much happier than all the celebrations of its birthday!
I think so do you and will you?