A smile is all that it takes
“I am tired of these first-time-in-history sentences,” complains a journalist sitting in a café, sifting through a bunch of English newspapers on the table.
“What’s wrong with them,” asks a friend sitting next to him, in a nonchalant, by-the-way manner.
“Nothing wrong,” says the journalist frankly, folding the English newspapers and stretching his hands towards a pile of Urdu newspapers: “It’s just that everything that happened last week was labeled ‘first-time-in-history’.”
The journalist gives the example of Gen Shahid Aziz’s revelations on Kargil, then mentions one or two court decisions and the latest photo-op of parliamentarians outside the parliament building.
“The truth is that everything that happened in the past five years has been a first-time-in-history; Pakistan as a nation just continues to grow younger…that’s why every small step in history feels like a first time,” adds the friend. The journalist spreads a newspaper on the table — with the parliamentarians’ photo-op — and asks: “Does this remind you of anything?”
“School,” says the friend laughing: “At the end of the term, students lined up for photographs with the principal,” says the friend.
“Who’s the principal in the photograph,” asks the journalist.
“Fehmida Mirza,” replies the friend pertly.
“Any other parliamentarian that catches the eye,” asks the journalist wondering.
“Chaudhry Nisar,” says the friend without a second thought,” amazing how he’s actually let go of his defences and allowed himself to smile…a little.”
“Why? When was the last time you remember him smiling,” questions the journalist.
“80s,” comes the reply.
“You got to be joking,” says the journalist, not believing a word. “No actually, 90s,” says the friend, amending his previous statement.
“Was the Chaudhry always such a serious character,” wonders the journalist.
“No, not at all. In fact, he was quite colorful…”
“Colourful? Chaudhry Nisar?… Now that’s information,” interrupts the journalist, not able to hide his curiosity, “What would be the timeframe of Chaudhry’s colourful years?”
“When Nazia Hassan’s voice used to rule the airwaves,” says the friend nostalgically.
“That’s a longtime back,” comments the journalist ruminating over the information.
“Yes…Chaudhry was quite the ‘boy’ then…used to play tennis…jog around Islamabad sports complex… and even used to occasionally speak angrezi (English)…not like today, only making conversation in newspaper – Urdu,” says the friend.
“So when did he become so serious,” asks the journalist.
“I don’t have an exact date. But I guess around the time when Nazia Hassan stopped singing,” conjectures the friend.
“So, he has been ‘dry’ ever since,” inquires the journalist.
“Yes…But there is hope now…this photograph in front of the parliament building brings hope,” analyses the friend. “Democracy surviving five years has brought a smile back, not only on Chaudhry Nisar’s face but millions of other serious faces.”
“So any chance of the Chaudhry becoming any less serious in the future,” probes the journalist.
“One should always think positively. There are reports that Chaudhry Nisar plans to contest elections from Taxila. Maybe away from Rawalpindi, he could rediscover his old self…Take a course in sculpturing, listen to old Nazia Hassan CDs, try some local fruity brews from Khanpur…”
“I agree. He needs to get away from Rawalpindi. The city has rubbed off on him negatively. Change will do him good,” suggests the journalist. “Change is always good,” chimes in the friend.