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Last Message

If you have only one night to live, what message will you give to your children and nation?

by Zafar Khizer


I remember that I went to sleep in my room, but it feels like I am walking in my sleep. Strange creatures that look like they are from another planet are taking me somewhere. We soon reach a place that looks like a courtroom, where they tell me my crime. I am charged with having a strong desire to change the conditions of my people. These creatures have the power to fulfill a person’s wish if that person agrees to die for it. They ask me to make a choice: Either die to allow your nation to change its condition, or go back to your happy life.



I think of my two-year-old daughter, my four-year-old son, and my wife. I am playing with my daughter. My son is saying “Thank you, Daddy,” I have just bought him a toy of his favorite character, Buzz Light-year. What will happen to my wife without me? I am crying. I do not want to leave all this. I do not want to die.


On the other hand, millions of people and the generations to come are depending on me. This is a matter of changing the world. Hundreds of people are being killed. Millions are without justice, in poverty, and living lives worse than slaves. Corrupt politicians and bureaucrats have looted the whole country, living luxuriously without being accountable to anyone. People are helpless. No one has any hope or solution, and as it looks, the end is very near.


What choice do I have? This is my country. How can I leave it like this? All right, I have decided to sacrifice myself. After a lot of tears, I have decided to die.


The creature speaks to me: You have to die, but you still have to change your nation’s conditions. All of that cannot be changed with magic. You must give a last message to your children and your nation that can teach them how to change their lives. It is up to you now. We will take your last message to your children and your nation, and then what they do with it is up to them. You have to pay the price to get anything.


Zafar! Now write this message. Before the dawn. This is my last night. How should I start?

I have to think about what would change my country. What is the one thing that leads a nation to cruelty and injustice? What is the one thing that is responsible for poverty and crime? I can divide all the problems of my country into two categories: those caused by lack of education and those caused by lack of honesty. So should my last message for the people be to educate themselves and improve their skills? It is a long-term goal. It will take time to produce results. It may be the best message in the long term. But in the short term, lives are in danger, many people are killed every day, and many more don’t have enough to eat. How can I tell them about the benefits of education? The first problem is peace and the protection of lives.


I am lost again. My mind is spinning. There is no easy solution to the problems of my country. Sometimes I think that the feudal system is the main problem; then I think that accountability is the solution—to free my country from corrupt politicians. But how can we achieve all this without political efforts? I have to think of a simple path that, if strictly adhered to, would solve people’s basic problems and take them towards progress.


I think of this: All right, my children and nation: Live your life with integrity. With strict honesty, whether someone watches you or not. Before you do anything, remember the rule of right and wrong. Do not let anyone control or influence your decision. Remember that in the end you have to answer only to yourself.


Okay, Zafar! This should be my last message: Integrity. My children and my nation need to remember only one word, Integrity, all the time.


I am a little relieved, but still thinking. There is still some time remaining before dawn. I think no other message would be so appropriate to help my children lead a great life. But to create a good society, I have to think more.


Why is it that in a country whose population is 97% Muslim—with prayer calls heard five times a day in every home, where the Quran is read in every household—corruption and other evil things are flourishing? What are these people missing? What is sinking them, perhaps without their knowledge, into the quicksand of evil things?


Zafar! Now I think I have got it. In a society without justice, peace cannot hold. Every person who is doing something unfair is not a true follower of any religion. He is deceiving himself.

My children! Never do anything harmful to others; never do anything unfair. Even a little unfairness can spread and destroy the whole nation. Okay, my children and my nation: for your safety, and to give you the best future, this is my last message. If you have to abandon everything and follow only one thing, then follow justice and fairness. Whoever understands justice and fairness understands all religions, and whoever does not understand justice and fairness does not understand any religion. So you must never abandon justice and fairness.


It seems that I am at ease now. It seems that death is now easy for me. I think I have got a single solution to all the evil things.


But Zafar! Am I going to teach everyone justice and fairness? Make everyone honest? Can everyone understand the consequences of his decisions and actions?


In spite of changing everyone, I have to develop a system where there is rule of law and where people, including politicians, are accountable; where law is equally applicable to everyone. I must provide security to every man, woman, and child. It is very important to give people their individual rights and never divide them into groups. If we divide people into Muslims and non-Muslims, we cannot keep them from being further divided into Shia, Sunni, Mahajir, or non-Mahajir.


All right, creature, do one thing in exchange for my life. Place the rule of law and individual rights in my country. Without these, we can neither solve people’s basic problems nor educate them to solve the problems themselves. This is my ultimate message.



I am crying again. I miss my children. My little girl is only 2 years old. She puts a peanut in my mouth and asks, “You want more, Daddy?” She pulls my ear, and when I pretend to cry she says, “Solly (sorry), Daddy.” She can even say “Thanku (thank you)”. My eyes are filled with tears. I can’t see anything.


I have never cared for my own life. If I want to live now, it is for my daughter and my son.


But Zafar! This is a matter of millions of children. To nurture my children in a society where there is no law and justice is like raising my daughter for animals. She could be raped and killed, and I would not be able to do anything. Yes! I would like to die rather than raise my daughter and my nation’s daughters in conditions like these. To give a safe future to my nation’s daughters, I am ready to die relaxed and with a smile.



“Daddy! Can I sleep with you?” Rameez’s voice wakes me up from deep sleep. My pillow is soaked with tears. I am happy to see that I am with my children and my wife. But my heart is still filled with pain and sorrow for my country.