I’m unable to write!

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I’m unable to write!

Ruveyda Arslanhan (wearing glasses) at a picnic with her students.

Rüveyda Arslanhan, an educator who worked in the PakTurk Schools for many years, wrote about the “Pakistan in her heart”. Even though Arslanhan says, “I am unable to write!” you will see in her sincere expressions how well love for humanity and self- sacrifice are described and how a pang of conscience is poured into words.

Apart from 18 years of a true life experience, having been to its each province, having lived in its four cities and notwithstanding the overflow of innumerable sweet and sour memories, I am unable to write.

Pakistan… A hurting agony deep within my soul, an incomplete song, a lump in my throat yet to be swallowed…

I loved this country. I called her the ‘country of brown-complexioned and beautiful-eyed children”. I listened her songs and enjoyed her dances. I loved her tiny little daughters dressed in colourful clothes and their hands dyed in henna patterns. I ate parathas and drunk doodh patti (milk tea) for breakfast in the mornings. I wore shalwar kameez on Eids. Truth be told; I loved this country so much but lately I have tried and tried… and I am unable to write…  

For the last two years, I have virtually turned a blind eye to my emotions so that I could move on with my life… I do not and cannot follow the Schools in any social network or watch the news covering them. I am even unable to ask my friends, “How are the schools?” A part of mine is unable to write, for it does not wish to suffer and weep further and another part is unable to write, for I deem myself not worthy and that part does not applaud anything that I have done so far. The same regret-laden sentences play endlessly within my mind: I was unable to act duly self-sacrificing, befittingly compassionate and sufficiently generous. I am so sorry.

I cannot deny the fact that I am loved there so much and that I made many truehearted boon companions as well… Friendships that bloomed 20 years ago and go strong still… I had students and friends who named their children after me. I witnessed mothers who – when they sensed their death was near – bequeathed their children to me instead of the members of their own families. My students got married, had children, and I received greetings saying, “You became a grandmother”. I had immensely truehearted, faithful and self-sacrificing colleagues and friends. Yet, a meek servant of Allah as I am, I was not worthy of all those favours…

Recently, my students from Khairpur Mirs – where I had lived for five years – contacted me and requested, “Ma’am, we regularly meet among friends. Would you be available for telling us about what ‘loyalty’ means?”. They were my students from whom I had to be separated in 2011 when I was posted to another city. I was unable to bring myself to say, “You yourself are the embodiment of loyalty indeed.” One of them showed up at the online meeting with the cardigan I had gifted to her years ago. She asked, “Have you remembered, ma’am?” I had forgotten… I was unable to act duly self-sacrificing, befittingly compassionate and sufficiently generous. I am so sorry.

While waiting with the hopes that ‘our visas would be extended soon’ encountering the scandal that said, “Leave the country within 72 hours!” left my emotions virtually paralyzed. In utter confusion, I rushed from one room to another as I did not know what to do and what to pack. We were in Quetta then, and a local teaching colleague of mine entered my room. In her hand was an envelope and her eyes were welled in tears. She took out a palm-sized golden penchant bound to a thick chain. She said, “This is a memento from my late mother. My elder brother had offered me an amount much higher than its actual price, and I had not accepted that. You should take this,” and added, “For Allah’s sake, let this be with you wherever you go. You can cash it whenever any need arises.”

I wept a lot then, too. People were truehearted. They were loyalty personified. I could not become like that. In the days that followed, more people arrived with similar offers. We thanked them and refused them kindly. I was unable to become worthy of their expression of loyalty and trueheartedness. I am so sorry.

Still, in some nights, I visit the school in my dreams. I wake up sobbing. As I have said, it is a lump in my throat yet to be swallowed…

For many days, I have been trying to write… about my first arrival in Pakistan, my dear students, my unforgettable memories, and my first love in teaching: PakTurk Schools. Yet, I am unable to write.

I have said to myself, “At least, let me write that I am unable to write!” I have wished to call out to my students, friends and colleagues, and say, “Do not forget about us! Do not let them wipe us from memories as if we had never existed!” A Rüveyda arrived and lived in Pakistan. She was not befittingly loyal, not sufficiently self-sacrificing, and not duly generous. Yet, she lived in that land for 18 years. She wept, she laughed, she loved, and she was loved… She would have remained there if they had not coerced her to leave… Do not ever forget!

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2 Comments

  1. Samavia says:

    My name is Samavia and it’s been 8 years I’m affiliated with PakTurk. And truth to be told I’m unable to write how amazing these years have been. I met true friends,I met my 2nd mother, I met sisters who took care of me more than my own family. I like to call them ablas. I’m crying while I’m writing this. These were the best years of my life. If I could ever turn back time, I’d like to get these years back in my life.

  2. A Forever Indebted Student says:

    A Ruveyda came and lived with us. She touched our hearts with her loyalty, generosity and self-sacrificing nature. To this day, she lives in our hearts and as long as Allah wills, she will never be forgotten! They can take you away from us, but they can’t make us forget you. We are sorry we couldn’t do enough.
    We will never forget!

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