I’d like you to trade places with me for a day. When you’re in my body and start to live your life, you’ll inevitably notice a lot of things. First off, you will wake up in stifling heat, your bedclothes pasted to you, by glue it’d seem. You will be perspiring freely and the humid Lahore weather won’t help. All of a sudden, you’ll get an idea. You’ll go turn on the air conditioner, expecting a chilling blast of cold air, and instead you’ll get…nothing. The AC will be quiet and I’m sure, so will you. Every hour on the hour the power will go out. You might be watching TV, taking a shower, the power doesn’t care. Power outage will happen during weddings, parties and funerals.
Moving on, you’ll meet people in my house. You’ll meet the nine year old maid who was told that her mother died because Satan possessed her; (she was schizophrenic, but that’s our little secret, isn’t it?). You will see the drive to learn, to get educated. And you will also see the non existent funds available for free education. She was 6 years old when she started working to support her family, because her brothers both died from typhoid. What hospitals would treat them? Who would’ve given them beds to rest in, or vaccinations to buffer them from the world? Because you see, in this country we keep breaking, but we can’t afford to heal.
Going on in the day, you’ll meet the woman who comes in to cook. You’ll hear her story – she lost a husband in one of the numerous Shia Sunni feuds that happen almost day to day. You’ll see that we are as much the victims of these as anyone else. No, we don’t go around conspiring to drown our own religion every day. Just like in your country, you have Redneck Christians who would skin their daughters for even looking at strange boys, we have mullahs. We have fanatics. But fanatics don’t have us. Differentiate. Our ugliness is exposed, aired out everyday in the 5 o clock news, while yours’ remains hidden under layers of fireworks, bald eagles, Uncle Sam posters and bacon.
You think our hearts don’t bleed? Beards or no beards, burqa or no burqa, we’re people. You know, just like you? But after you listen to a hundred of grief filled stories, all you get is mild ear ache. Because everyone here has a sob story, everyone has suffering. I’m one of the lucky ones, I got education, I got opportunities. Hundreds of people lose lives because in view of the Bigger Picture and the Greater Good, one life doesn’t matter.
We’re in the midst of elections, and so many don’t know who to pick. Why should we put our fates into alien hands, who will take and never give back?
But what’s the use? I’m sure your life isn’t a picnic either.