Cherophobia is the fear of happiness and felicity where people are afraid to express their happiness and to have fun. Are we Pakistanis collectively as a nation the patients of this psychological disorder? We are afraid to have any form of merriment or joy. Have we barricaded ourselves by building such walls around us that nothing from the beautiful and vibrant beauty of nature can penetrate them, choosing instead to live insipid and dry lives. Not able to express ourselves fully, show our happiness, fulfil natural desires and unable to adapt new ideologies, we are slowly being asphyxiated to death in a quelling society rapidly becoming devoid of the cultural diversity, pluralism and inclusiveness which it was once renowned for.
We have imposed superfluous constraints on ourselves by confusing our cultural identity with the sandy & the barren Arab culture, choosing to live our lives in a manner devoid of all happiness, expression and multiformity. Pakistan’s quest for identity led the ideological custodians of this country towards the camel filled deserts of Arabia, far away from its own culture which was more than 5000 years old. In order to make Pakistan as Islamic as possible, we have completely failed to realize that culture transcends religious and political divides. To solve the identity crisis of Pakistan, we imported Arab heroes, Arab folk tales and Arabic textbooks into our country in order to become as kosher as possible by establishing our place in the pantheon of Arab countries. More than six decades have passed and this nation is still facing an identity crisis.
Celebrating and enjoying is considered an abomination in the land of pure with restrictions placed on simple human desires like dancing and singing in mixed gatherings. Freedom of speech, press, and media are on a steep fall in this banana republic where fatwas and blasphemy charges fall like rain and censorship laws prevail in order to detect any mischief that may have a hint of distorting and clouding the holy image of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. An archaic code of conduct has been implemented in the society where patriarchy and misogyny prevail by conveniently brushing away women from the social scenario into rooms having windows with shades on them lest any eye fall on the hoor and her virginity come in danger. Mingling with women is deemed indecent and characterless and the extra mile is gone in order to keep both sexes separate and safe from each other. Music has been deemed haram and of course anything that even remotely resembles the Indian culture is considered taboo automatically. By doing so, we have detached ourselves from a big part of our cultural heritage.
The young generation bears the brunt of this ideological and cultural dissociation from our open and inclusive societal norms and values. Devoid of any chance of mingling with the opposite sex, with restrictions from the society and household members, the bubbling hormones are taken care of by indulging in unsafe and unsatisfying activities. In our society, the criteria of decency are restrictions on emotions and feelings, and piety is the name of negation of the true beauty and essence of life. Youth is the period of life where one enjoys all the beauties and diversities of nature, but here we have made that period of life as dry and devoid of any ray of light as possible in the name of preserving our ‘moral’ values. A simple meet up for coffee can be costly for you if any local custodian of Pakistan’s ideology chances to look at you, with marriage certificate being demanded by the police. After all interjection in people’s privacy is legal in Pakistan. John Lennon rightly said, “We live in a world where we have to hide to make love, while violence is practiced in broad daylight.”
The state and society have left no outlets for the people to express themselves with the result that people have become extremely deprived and sexually frustrated. Consequently, it seems our people seem to take great pleasure in acts of violence and destruction with their faces showing a sense of liberation as they get a ‘free time’ out of their mundane and pathetic lives by resorting to such madness. These ‘seemingly’ normal people do not waste a moment in becoming sadists and living the moment. The entire Pakistani nation seems to be afflicted with Sadistic Personality Disorder. On the other hand, the elite class enjoys all the perks and pomps forbidden to the middle and lower classes. Booze and booty, both are aplenty for the Pakistani elite with them being above the social and moral restrictions necessary to preserve the Islamic cum Arabic culture of Pakistan. This huge disparity in the moral and ethical standards of different classes shows that hypocrisy is the law of the land with all the laws and ethos only for the common man.
We would have to seriously reconsider whether we are heading towards total oblivion, taking steps to ensure that a spirit of debate and discourse ensues with tolerance for dissenting voices in a society that is at peace with its cultural identity and celebrates its pluralism and diversity by accepting its past. What we need to realize is that we cannot deny our past and impose a foreign culture upon us without the cultural stagnation visible in our society today – an outcome of Arab cultural imperialism. Let us celebrate life in its various forms and beauties, that’s what life is about. We are already lagging far behind in this world and if we continue our habit of looking to old traditions as solutions to our new problems instead of using rationale, going back in the centuries, then there is no way that our today becomes better or our future becomes beautiful.