Days and adventures roll into each other and I realize that I left a few dangling threads back in Islamabad. I’ll wrap up what I can, plase let me know if I forgot any, or if you have any questions about our ongoing quest.
The text message we received during dinner in Islamabad read, “HELLO JOSHUA, Iâ€™M KHALID. IF YOU WANT TO VISIT JEHLUM, THE BIRTH PLACE OF YOUR WIFEâ€™S GRANDMOTHER, YOU CAN. I TALKED TO SHLOOM CENTER. EARLIER IT WAS HOSPITAL, BUILT 114 YEARS AGO. SHE MUST HAVE BEEN BORN HERE, BUT UNFORTUNATELY THEY HAVE NO RECORD. IF YOU WANT TO STAY THEY HAVE ARRANGED A FREE ROOM FOR YOU AND YOUR WIFE. I HAVE TALKED TO THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCHâ€™S PRIESTâ€™S WIFE. SHE SAID SHE HAS AN OLD RECORD AVAILABLE.â€
Our next clue was locked into place; even if we found no direct contact, at least we could stand in the streets of Jehlum and learn more about Pakistan’s Christians, who, I am told, comprise one per cent of the population. Alas, a short but acute stomach issue prevented us from making the stopover on the way to Lahore. We missed Jehlum, but made it to Lahore in time for Sufi night.
And my meeting with the Prime Minister? “Impossible,” his secretary told me. Not surprising, as the PM had his hands full with the events following the London bombings, not to mention impending elections. “If you had more time, no problem,” I was told, but 48 hours’ notice was, indeed, impossible. I will try to e-mail PM Aziz though, maybe get a quote about Dr. Stewart or Gordon College.
I had plenty more names and numbers, more Gordonians, more possible leads. But we could not stay longer in Pakistan, we had to keep our Eastward momentum, so some things were left behind. My notebooks are brimming, though, I have contacts throughout Pakistan, and now, with Dr. Stewart’s writing in my possession, I am not worried about lack of material.