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From Birr to Bareilly, from Leeds to Lahore

Letter to the Queen

By: Asif Raja


Queen Elizabeth the Second

Buckingham Palace

Central London 

Dear Ma’am, 

Sorry for not keeping my word but then we Pakistanis, a nation of many cultures now rapidly turning into a Talibo-Arabian one, were never to be trusted to keep it anyway.  

And to remind you that before me it was the great uncle Dickie who was responsible for causing you so much grief and anguish. Of course, it is something you never express, but your mother did in her conversation. She felt we were not the kind to rule ourselves. Well, no shortcut to experience. I am sure his mention in such unkind tones has still to be kept a secret from HRH the Duke of Edinburgh who, apart from being his nephew, was also presented to you by him as a suitor. He brazenly wanted to change the name of your house from Windsor to Mountbatten.  

Anyway just to update you about the latest situation in Pakistan on which you don’t have any powers anymore. Maja and Saja brothers have been shabbily treated but not vanquished by Mr Asif Bhutto Ali Zardari. They are still having plenty of payas, harisas, halwa puri, maghaz (delicacies chronicled in Lord Willington’s book on Lahore). What else do you expect? 

I was just feeling a bit nostalgic today so thought I should to write a letter. I do apologise for taking this liberty of nostalgic writing but as I have been a loyal subject since birth, I know you will forgive me, as always. Part of the nostalgia was remembering my father who passed away 18 years ago. He was a great admirer of the British people, British way of life, fish and chips, toast and boiled potato. I am sure he was the only one of all the Asians- at least the ones I know- who liked boiled potatoes.  

He would very dutifully load me off at the great Rawalpindi Station which, to remind you was an important junction from where the local braves, on many an occasion boarded the trains and went off  in the endeavour of increasing the size of the British empire. They were successful on more occasions than not. It was a lesson in history and nostalgia, history because he could trace a Highlanders’ journey from Braemer via Perth to Dover on to Bombay, now Mumbai (those ungrateful Indians; how dare the change the name of a city given in dowry; another machination!) and onwards to the plains of British India to Delhi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and finally Peshawar from where they would go to fight the Afghans. 

He told me that he would visit the station twice a year to receive and send off his father, Major Khushal Khan, who fought- or so he used to say- ever so gallantly against the Japs on the Burma/Singapore front. I guess the victors can write what they feel needs to be written but he was an honest fellow. He told me that he closes his eyes because he could not bear to see the deterioration in the standards of the most beautiful building of his childhood.  

Young man he would say” Gora Sahib with his Mem Sahiba (Mrs), elegantly dressed, hand in hand, heading towards separate dining and tea- rooms to be served by immaculately dressed bearers! Different tea room for desi man. And in the end he would say “By God, they were brave people to have done what they did having come from a faraway island” 

Fast forward 2009. Political chaos in Pakistan but that’s not new. Maja does not want the bureaucracy to work. He threatens them and promises bribes in public. Zardari, much worse. Army, well you know all about them.  

Dear Ma’am, I have written such a long letter so that you can ring Ban-ki Moon to try giving Pakistan on a thaika (contract), to the highest bidder who can run the country, be able to build an infrastructure and be able to provide justice. That reminds me that the old timers (not many left now) are always singing praises of British justice, when it was British India!  

To cut a long story short and to enclose an ocean of meaning in a drop, what I am recommending, Ma’am is, please claim us back! 

Ever in your service jaddi pushti,

Over the generations 

Dr MAK Raja 

please also see:

Shillin' a Day


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