|We saw a car stuffed with children...singing, and waving PTI flags|
“Have you ever been to a jalsa,” Saif asks me.
“No, I am claustrophobic, crowds suffocate me.”
Saif only listens to half of my comment because he is busy chanting a PTI song.
“But you have to go to his one. There will be a huge crowd, the like of which you have never seen before,” Saif informs me.
“So, you are a PTI supporter. Why?”
“Because Imran Khan is going to change everything. Nawaz Sharif goes to America and stays in the most expensive hotels. And we don’t need metros, we need more schools and hospitals. Why should his daughter handle that project which Imran Khan says she does?” Saif is a regular listener of Imran Khan’s daily tirades
Saif and all the other Lilliputians daily watch news channels and discuss politics. They are now so into politics.
Should I accompany them to the jalsa?
I have a green shirt. And this decides for me.
As our car inches along towards the Minar-e-Pakistan, the first impression that I register is that of people around me-immense crowds- twisting, hopping, tapping, nodding and whirling and waving in different directions. I realize this is some kind of response to the blaring music that accompanies many cars. What I find particularly endearing are the shopkeepers in the roadside shops dancing, yes dancing, while doing their business.
“Look!” Omar excitedly points toward one PTI supporter who is wearing a mask.
We encounter many other imaginative souls who have
devised different ways to register their support.
|man with the horns|
My favorite, however, is the man with the horns. He sits on the bumper of his car, makes a victory sign and gives huge smiles to everyone.
I start thinking. Maybe the man with the horn represents the change that Imran Khan talks about. So does the change rhetoric imply that people will be able to live the way they want to live? Wear what they want to wear, even horns?
eloquent about horns.
The crowd is growing by the minute.
We finally reach our destination. I am beginning to have serious bouts of claustrophobic paranoia.
The police on duty seem weary, and almost have a harassed looked. They are telling people to move quickly, to make way for other people.
I hear one weary policeman telling a charged PTI supporter, “Please hurry up, Nawaz sharif is going. Make way for other people!”
We can barely move. Barely breathe, so dense is the crowd. And there are children, toddlers, infants. Some flying in the air.
|"I want to see Imran Khan"|
“I need to go near the stage, I have to see Imran Khan,” Zainab says.
“What’s the point of coming here if we can’t go near the stage,” Saif grumbles.
“We can’t, there’s no place. Besides, Imran Khan hasn’t arrived yet,” I tell them.
The disgruntled looks don’t go away.
After an hour of being sandwiched in the crowd I am tired of looking around, and look up.
“The moon is waxing…it’s a beautiful crescent,” I invite them to look at the sky. My claustrophobia eases for a while
Nobody replies. Nobody is listening.
While we stand and listen to various chants, a woman offers us Gulab Jaman. “Take as many as you want,” she says.
I am beginning to like PTI people. I mean, they give you Gulab Jaman.
There are more people coming, and there is no place to stand.
“Let’s go back,” my claustrophobia begins to mount. Every inch of the grounds, every bit of the bridge, trees, poles, cars, walls, are packed with roaring, shouting, dancing humans.
We ignore fuming faces of Saif and Zainab. We turn a deaf ear to their griping. Omar is too tired to say anything, but he keeps making weird faces.
We start looking for a way out. We walk, and walk.
After an hour, we manage to somehow go out of the Minar. But No let up from the teeming, charged humanity. We keep walking, keep shoving, keep getting shoved and pushed all the way to the Bhaati gate.
There we get a chingchi and get a ride to the Secretariat. Omar now tries to ward off his bad mood by donning all the paraphernalia of PTI that he has purchased so far and starts making faces. Once there, we call the driver and reach home. Just in time to listen to Imran Khan.
The Lilliputians, though tired, run and huddle around the TV. They listen. Now that they have been to the jalsa, they feel they are a part of something big. They are all charged up and feeling important.
There are two types of people in the world: jalsa- type, and not-jalsa-type. I know to which category I belong