The Past Is Another Country

mohenjodaro

And you can never really go back

I’ve been thinking about Pakistan lately. A reflection about roots. Because I want to write a novel? Or is it just nostalgia?

Woke up this morning with a title “The Past Is Another Country” and “And you can never really go back” then worried where I’d seen it before. Writers don’t plagiarize 🙂

An on line search; it comes from a book, except I never read it:

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there”, The Go-Between Lesley Poles Hartley, 1953.

Then ah, I see it comes from the 1971 Joseph Losey movie adaption of the novel, with Julie Christie and Alan Bates. No wonder I remembered it, with visual evocations of revisiting the past.

I think of Pakistan, and the memories of childhood. Yes, I travelled widely and each country I’ve been to evoked memories of past lives. Yes, I love Japan, and the U.K. the U.S. and especially my home, Canada, for memories of friends and events, natural beauty and wonderful history.

But there will always be a special place in your heart for the place where you were born, and here it is Pakistan.

This is about identity, and how I want my children to learn theirs.

There is history, culture, religion even if you think of yourself as an outsider sometimes. You can still love it and want to take your children back there to visit.

This is about the uprootedness of the Pakistani diaspora and how no matter how much we settle elsewhere, a part of us always looks back to remember ‘home’.

Yes, we are defined by our history, and ours is one that goes back 5000 years.

The Indus valley civilization, Mohenjo-Daro existed at the same time as the Mesopotamian, Minoan Crete, Egyptian and Peru’s Norte Chico civilizations. They were a peaceful, pastoral people and that is who we are also, regardless the number of invaders who went through our lands and yet we absorbed them all. That is why Sunni Islam is tempered by a very strong Sufi traditions which no manner of fundamentalism can ever break.

We are defined by geography, from the plains of the Punjab, mountains of “Afghania”, Valleys of Kashmir, rivers of “Sindia”, deserts and hillsides of Balochistan. Therefore, Pakistan is a not just a culture of many peoples, but place.

With all respect, we are not like Indians. They have a different geography of place and mind.

I had thought how much I’d love to take my family there. My children need to see who they are as well as their other side. But the past is another country, and maybe one can’t go back.

Maybe, you can’t go back. Except through your remembered past, with a book.

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About manfromatlan

I'm a spiritual traveler.
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