Updated: March 30, 2021 04:43 AM GMT
Pakistan's army soldiers march during a military parade to mark Pakistan's National Day in Islamabad on March 25, 2021. (Aamir QURESHI/AFP)
It’s hard to know where to begin when you feel a great desire to express your thoughts on an event that arrives so regularly and is so important, that your world revolves around it.
Easter is one of those events, and I don’t even know where my story of this religious festival begins.
Should I commence with the never-ending fear in me that follows the celebrations of Easter every year? Or should I begin with the joy I always feel when I return home safely after attending the Easter Church service? Maybe I should preface it with the mixture of prayers I offered in Church every year on Easter for the security of the entire Church?
For all of my readers confounded by my fear, welcome to the world of almost every Pakistani Christian. This world is full of different colours. In this world, you’re never safe but still, this world is colourful enough for you to mistake it for a peaceful world. The discrimination and injustice one faces in this kaleidoscopic life, are actually everyday events in the life of a Pakistani Christian.
So let’s commence with something unpredictable. Something pristine enough to make the reader feel like a pioneer. Let’s dig into the anonymous fear that follows the arrival of Easter. Let’s call it an anonymous fear because I’ll never know the origin of this fear. I’m ashamed to say it but I’m phobic about Church service during Lent and Holy Week. This fear might even be the result of the horror that crawled underneath my skin back in 2013 when Joseph Colony was reduced to ashes one Saturday evening.
What always strikes my mind is that people might have been planning to attend the Church service the next day. All the preparations turned to ashes in front of the carriers of the anthem of hope. This incident happened during Lent 2013. Every year during Lent all I do is pray that no other Christian community is reduced to ashes. That’s how I pass my Lent, offering prayers that there won’t be another Joseph Colony.
If this one wasn’t enough to induce terror, turn your blood cold, then I guess the twin bombing in Youhanabad probably served the purpose. After this incident, the first thing I asked myself was, if God’s sanctuary isn’t safe then where am I supposed to hide myself? The Youhanabad bombing and its echo disrupted the lives of so many people. Some of us are still trying to act normal and still trying to deal with the after-effects of that blast.
Unfortunately, if this wasn’t terrorizing then the attack on Lahore park completed the job of instilling fear. This attack happened one evening in Easter 2016. I believe Easter 2017 was blessed for Pakistani Christians as Egypt’s Copts suffered the same fate as Pakistani Christians.
The blast in an Egyptian church happened on Palm Sunday and it’s been four years but I still remember how terrifying it was to attend the church service that year. Easter 2018 passed off quite peacefully but on Easter Monday the fantasy of a safe Easter was blown apart. On Easter Monday the entire Christian community mourned for the attack in Quetta.
I guess I don’t even have to write about Easter 2019. Every Christian around the world celebrated Easter 2019 with eyes glued to the TV screen, bleeding and mourning on the inside for the Christians in Sri Lanka.
Ironically Covid-19 blessed us with a safe Easter last year. Back during Easter 2020, we were all bound within the safe walls of our homes while observing quarantine and social distancing due to Covid-19. It was a safe Easter for all of us. It was sad how we were attending Church service through televisions but at least last Easter I prayed without being skeptical about the security of the Church.l missed the entire mass and the gathering, yet I wasn’t the one rushing out of the church as soon as possible last Easter. I actually missed the relief that used to flood through me when we used to reach home after Easter service. I guess I’ll gladly trade that one with the chance to enjoy a peaceful Easter Sunday in prayer.
For the part that we weren’t able to leave our homes last Easter, I guess we all have a rule of staying in on Easter since the attack on Lahore Park. On the brighter side, we all promised ourselves a safe Easter.
Now that Easter is just round the corner I cannot help but wonder what Easter 2021 has in store for me. Would it be a safe Easter within the bulwark of our own homes paired with online church service? or is it going to be an Easter with the entire congregation packed within the walls of the sanctuary of God while we chant prayers of safety over and over again?
Whatever it is, I’m hoping for is a safer Easter this year with my family.
Anee Muskan is a published author and young journalist in Pakistan who writes about religious affairs and minority rights. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News