Amid heart-breaking stories of victims and their loss from Lahore, here is one story from the same country that gives some hope.
Karachi resident and Facebook user Wahid Khan celebrated Holi with his friends in the city. On his way back home, doused in different colours, he decided to take the bus. Though he was warned against taking public transport because he was covered in Holi colours, Khan insisted on taking the bus because he wanted to conduct a social experiment and see how people react to his ‘look’ and use the public space to celebrate diversity.
Unsuprisingly, someone commented and the illuminating conversation that followed is not only an example of the stereotypes that exist, but also of the will to change, and a reflection of at least a part of the young Pakistani Muslim youth.
Here’s what Khan posted on his Facebook page:
“I was coming from a Holi celebration and I decided to take a public bus despite the arguments of friends that I should just take a rikshaw cuz people might react to it as I was all in colors. I wanted to see people’s reaction and more than that I wanted to use a public space to celebrate diversity and to let people think about it. I came across many people, and everyone perceived that I am a Hindu and told me how they know “people of my community”. This was my favorite conversation on a bus.
I sit next to an uncle.
Uncle: (with a great sympathy) Why are you working in such a young age?
Me: Sorry, what do you mean?
Uncle: You are a color worker right?
Me: (laughed) No uncle, actually I am coming from a Holi celebration.
Uncle: Oh, Hindu brotheri?
Me: No, I am from a Muslim family.
Uncle: what? So you celebrated Holi? And rest of them were Muslims as well?
Me: Yes, and some of our friends were Hindus and we celebrated Holi in a church.
Uncle: Beta, you are a Muslim, and…
(There was another uncle sitting in the seat behind us, he interrupted): Oh bhai, if colors bring these kids together and they can celebrate it together with the minority, why do you have to bring in religion? That’s a great thing.
Uncle: Well, we were raised by telling us that Hindu and Muslims can not be together.
(The other uncle shakes his head)
Me: That is where everything went wrong. Happy Holi!
It was a great day and glad to see Pakistan accepting other cultures and religions!
Happy Easter if you have read through :-)”
The note, posted on Easter Sunday, has gone viral, with over 6,000 likes and over a thousand shares. Most of the comments on the post are positive, with people lauding Khan and recounting their own experiences of playing Holi and multiculturalism. Though, there were some dissenters, but they were easily drowned out with counter-responses.
It’s quite uplifting to see the overwhelming positive reaction to Khan’s post. Maybe there is hope yet for people from the two neighbouring countries to come together and celebrate each others’ cultures.