Its difficult living away from the country. Most escape when they cross the border even if the admit so or not. The escape is from many things: the past, the present, the people, the setting. And then, they come to these foreign lands. Unless they end up going to the likes of Afghanistan or the war trodden patches of Africa, they are usually better off. Most would rather not admit so for if they do, it means they’ll a) fall in love with the new setting and  b) think of settling down. Most Pakistani’s don’t have that option. No matter how much they want, they cannot escape in its entirety. For, Pakistanis grow up with responsibilities and strings attached to them. And these impede them from losing themselves into the foreign lands. The reactionary response is so blatant it has become a morewhat distinction of the Pakistani breed of foreigners. They retreat. They tend to grow obsessively passive aggressive. They tend to become aliens in alien lands.

The retreat is as such: they grow tired and frustrated of everything; everything that once defined an optimistic future for them. It is defined too foreign which is an absurd claim afterall these are but traits of the foreign land. The retreat comes in the form of rejection first. Dots that don’t connect are connected. Presumptions are believed in. Claims are embraced as facts. This not easy ofcourse afterall how does one hide from the rush of the environment one lives in? You can never live as desolate. There always has to be something to obsess with. In a way David Foster Wallace was right when he said that our obsessions are our religion and of course no one can really be an atheist. No one can, as said before, be completely desolate.

So the current environment is replaced by the memory of the old. Memories, as we all know, are fishy business. We make memories and then remake them whenever we remember them. But it does not stop there. We remake them when we tell them. And this third one, in the hands of a charismatic orator talking to an audience of depressed and confused individuals is the most lethal of all settings.

It’s a norm here, in the foreign lands, discussions such as the following: Mosques are better mosques here. They’re not just pulpits and a praying point. The former because they are not allowed to be, the latter because not many pray in the foreign lands. However, the mosques are community centres, something they were always supposed to be. Here, after the prayers of Jumma or Eid or in bad times, funeral, the locals gather in the company of their original localities. Here then, they speak of things. Frustrations, longings, yearnings and memories. Good times are remembered. Good times are exaggerated. The exaggerated times are then remembered, very profoundly so.
Sitting in such a setting is a revelation. The researchers amongst us cannot help but see the potential for Focus Group Discussions here. Some actually see them as such. There is so much said in such settings.

Most of the people who express their frustrations against the alien lands are homesick. Those were good times, most express in between of sighs and almost teared up eyes. Remember that? Remember this? Then there is the usual bashing of the current situation. Life was so good, it is insisted. There was much respect; much relief. For any keen observer, the views expressed and procrastinated are more due to homesickness than a distaste for the current setting (although some would argue that both are the same).

In a paper written by Chris Thurber and Edward Walton published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the authors describe homesickness as “distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents.”

In that sense, if this definition is scrutinized to its essentials, the longing is never really for the country or the ideology. The longing is infact of the essentials aswell. Parents, siblings, inanimate objects such as cars, roads, smiles, hugs etc. Patriotism is simply a lazy person’s way of encompassing all of these longings into one. Besides the fact that it underemphasizes the longing, it clumps up attributes which were never really yearned for. Traditions, for example, replace a person’s relationship with his/her loved ones. How you act towards someone becomes a way of communal routine and not a personal choice. This is one example of juxtaposing and underemphasising the yearnings.

It is important that the said yearnings are stripped down to the essential emotions of component yearning rather than painting it in hyperbole. This must be the responsibility of the elders of the community. Instead of branding emotions and pushing the young generation into a stereotype, much can be gained by emphasizing individuality. As individuals, there would be much breathing space to deal with these longings. Maybe, individual attention is all that they want.