The young man looked a bit angry. Perhaps, he was running short of arguments.

He: Gone are the days when the youth believed in their elders out of respect. This is the age of technology. Information on all subjects are available on the internet. Opinions are formed and promoted through social media. Ironically, in Pakistan, it is being used as a tool for mud-slinging. Believe me. Pakistan is not a country to live in, Sir. No merit, no justice, no bread, no safety!

Me: What kind of logic is this? I assure you, son. If Pakistan did not become an independent country under the able leadership of our Quaid, we would still be treated as third-grade citizens by the Hindu majority.

He: You made me laugh, Sir. Tell me. Aren’t we still being treated as third-grade citizens by the ruling elite?

Me: Wrong. Absolutely wrong. If there was no Pakistan, I would not have had the privilege to represent my country as an Ambassador. Might have been a Lower Division Clerk at best. And you? You would be working in some factory as a messenger. Ask the Muslims living in India how they are being treated by New Delhi? Showcasing a powerless Muslim President is nothing more than a façade. Secondly, tell me, if your mother fell sick, would you abandon her just because she got sick? Wouldn’t you try finding some treatment?

He: There is no need to be emotional, Sir. Of course, I will look after my mother. But a country where sons are treated discriminately and some of the children themselves are actually the real reason for their mother’s ailment, what do you do? To say that it is a collective failure doesn’t absolve you from taking responsibility. What kind of inheritance have we been bequeathed?

Me: Who says it is a failure?

He: Remember, once you told me how to address a challenging predicament? Change it, leave it or accept it. I tried. I could neither change anything nor could I accept it. I am leaving. Can you imagine? The guy got another extension and again I could not get the job. Why do you think heaven would fall if you left the seat? After retirement, you should be relaxing, golfing or fishing somewhere. But no. You are indispensable. How do you think the deserving candidates like me would feel to see their future being highjacked by these pests? If the Government of the day wants them to carry forward its agenda, why can’t they say no? Retirement means you go home, rest, reflect, and write memoirs for future generations. In any case, who is restricting them to contribute from home? Why do they insist on having an office?

Me: But they are few and far between.

He: The exploiters and manipulators are always fewer in number.

Me: But aren’t they everywhere? Don’t you think such disparities are found everywhere? The problem is that some of you accept defeat without entering into an actual fight. In search of shortcuts, you surrender first. I don’t know where I heard this saying but, in a war, surrender is not an option. Either you die or triumph. If you think the present situation in Pakistan portrays a war-like scenario, I would not like you to surrender.

He: Society is too polarized to make room for logic. Educated people have no other option but to find alternatives. We are ready to sacrifice. But for who? The ruling elite? No way. Can you imagine that talent like Arshad Nadeem is being wasted by us? Deliberately. We are happy to express pride for our medal winners. But we are not ready to groom our talent. Either we are glued to tv screens watching inconsequential talk shows or making policies to safeguard individual interests. Sorry, Sir. Too much to do. Too little time. Too little care and attention to real issues.

Me: We are going through a difficult phase of history…...

He: O, please! When was it that we were not going through difficult times? When was it that the Government of the day’s focus was the people of Pakistan? We have no hope. We have no future.

Me: You have made some valid points, young man. But let me talk in a language that you understand. You know that after thesis and antithesis, there is the stage of synthesis. Don’t you? We have undertaken experiments in politics. We have seen the outcome of our five-year plans. Like all others, presently we are struggling to cope with the menace of the internet and social media. To begin with, let us not try to change our history to provide credence to our argument. Let us be a little patient with our environment. Things are bound to change.

He: Just like the rest of the Pakistanis, you are too opinionated, Sir. Very rigid.

Me: But you are a Pakistani too. Aren’t you? My dear, wisdom also lies in knowing what needs to be ignored. If nothing else, you could have at least refrained from talking against the country. No point in complaining. Pakistan is what you have. You are shifting to Canada. Do you think you will be treated as a first-grade citizen there? Grass looks greener on the other hill. Sit down with yourself. Reflect. I agree with you. There are challenges but it is still your homeland. Try to contribute instead of aimlessly criticizing your country. We have played our innings. Now it’s your turn to come forward and do what is required to be done. Be a constructive part of the process. As for me, I am convinced that Pakistan is here to stay! And why don’t you talk about yourself for a change? What is your contribution? What have you done for the country except finding faults with it?

The young man disappeared like steam from a tea kettle.

Concluded