Random Rambling

I haven’t written anything about anything lately. I have been wanting to write a lot but the thoughts in my mind did not really come straight to take the shape of words here. There are too many thoughts, such as that of a kid I met who was selling story books in the streets of Karachi — the books he cannot read himself; and the 3 siblings (Kamran, Sundus and Ayesha) I met who were selling boiled eggs on Mall Road in Murree — Kamran having the age of eleven wishing to join army, Sundus with the age of ten dreaming to become a medical doctor in army, and Ayesha being the youngest of all siblings having age seven just aiming to follow her older sister Sundus. God help them to achieve their dreams!

Few days back I saw a stray cat downstairs in my garage. She was milking her baby kitten when I first threw my glance at her. It seemed that the kitten was recently born– not older than a week maybe. The mother cat meowed when she saw me staring her. The soft meow pushed me to go upstairs and take a piece of chicken meat escaping my mother’s eyes to feed the mommy cat. Mother is not against feeding animals, especially cats. She is only concerned about feeding them in the boundary of the house because then they spoil her plantations and foul the stairs and around by keeping their presence there permanently after getting fed on daily basis. It has been more than a month now and since that day whenever that cat finds me downstairs in the garage where she often sits and sleeps, she walks herself near to me and meows for food. I have been feeding her and her kitten secretly who is now a little grown up. I feed a few more random cats here and there in the street sometimes.

But here is the funny thing. I have also been feeding a dog in my street for some two years. The dog is white and big now. I have known him since he was born in a house at the end of my street. The family kept it till he got a few months older, and then they let him loose. He hasn’t left the street since then and the family hasn’t stopped caring for him either, feeding him most of the days in the week. He is nearly 3 years old. But I have been friend with him for two years only. I don’t let him touch me and I don’t touch him either for hygiene reasons. Though he is bathed by that family sometimes. So whenever he sees me passing by, he wags his tail always, and sometimes even follow me down the road till I reach home. I have secretly named him Delfino. So one day a few days ago I was coming home around midnight and Delfino caught me at the corner of the street. I had some stuff in a plastic bag in my hand and Delfino thought it was something I was bringing for him to feed as sometimes I do, so he started following me. A few steps ahead, and another stray cat whom I occasionally feed too saw me with the plastic bag and began to follow me besides Delfino. Not a few steps later “Asma” and “Kallu”, two of the old cats in the street named so by a neighbor, added to the queue of strays following me. The queue was soon joined by that cat and her kitten who are found in my garage these days most of the day. So it was like, I was walking down the road in my street for home, and I had 5 cats and a dog following me. It was funny because all of them had appeared in no time from no where one by one.

I was troubled lately. Stressed, maybe. I don’t know. I wasn’t feeling well. So many things were streaming in my brain. I had trouble sleeping too. I couldn’t focus on one thing or another. I have been staring at the faces of random people and thinking how their life is like. Are they happy? Are they healthy? I don’t know.

During my graduation days I had an Iranian friend in England whose name was Sadegh. He would frequently use the expression “I don’t know”. Lately I too have been using this phrase a lot; when a horde of questions pop in my mind and I couldn’t answer them, I say to myself “I don’t know”. I think I have been missing Sadegh for one. Secondly, I really don’t know “whys” and “whats” about many things. Things like, why it feels to do good and still not do enough? Why is it not enough to be just good? What is it that makes you feel good if doing good is not good enough? Maybe the answer lies in the endless cycle of doing-good. I don’t know. Thank you, Sadegh. If it weren’t for your favorite expression, I would be lost in making wrong answers. Now I silent myself with your favorite expression. Maybe it is for the best.







Some Words of John Stuart Mill

“The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”

~ J.S. Mill — On Liberty

Abdul Razzaq — The Kid We Have Ignored

Abdul Razzaq

I was coming home early in the morning when I saw something that made me curious: a young Pashtun guy with a sack of trash lying at his foot was writing something on a neighborhood wall. See this I got near him. He was writing his name on the wall with this black marker “Abdul Razzaq”.

The thing that was surprising for me was that I couldn’t expect a guy of his standing to actually know how to write. But he wrote it well on the wall. You can see the pic.

As I got near him, he started smiling. I asked him if he knew how to write and he nodded with a smile. For a few moments I stood still there without uttering a single word, looking at his name that he had just written on the wall. Then I turned to him and asked him if he has actually been to school. He told me that he studied a bit on his own because he loves it but he didn’t have enough resources to actually go to school, and most of all he had to earn bread and butter for his family which he must do over the education. I asked him how much he earns to which he retorted that he earns 250 to 300 Rs daily from the thrown-away boxes and other recyclable stuff that he picks from the roadsides which he sells everyday to a junkyard that deals in such kind of recyclable trash.

It didn’t take me long to realise that the young guy was actually curious to know why I was asking this all, and my realisation came true when he blurted the request: “tum hum ko parhao gey?” (Will you teach me?). And inside heart I said to myself he has requested me something that I was actually about to offer him the next minute. And certainly I couldn’t say no to his request, could I? Could anyone else for that matter? I don’t think so.

But I think despite that we all couldn’t say no to such a request of someone of his standing who is so keen on getting educated, we still deny indirectly the thousands of requests daily. Basically, we don’t even provide young, poor kids the opportunity to even raise the request, and then obviously we don’t even offer them the right to education that they deserve.

In any case, I told the kid that I will get him enrolled in a school. But he told me that after 2 months he will leave for Quetta where his family is settled for 26 years now and so he would have to quit the school here in Karachi. As much as I wanted him to go to school, and he wanted the same thing, I could not even squeeze him to stay in Karachi for the rest of the year and the years to come and not just for the winters (according to him he spends winters in Karachi and earns in this season where he saves around 25,000 Rs in this time that he takes back to Quetta for his family where he spends the rest of the seasons). But I got this acute wish that it would have been great if he had stayed here for his complete formal education. But I promised him that I will buy books for him and come down to his home (he lives in a shanty not too far from my home; there are loads of other shanties too in his colony) and teach him there. When I actually told him that, he brought his hand forward in joy and excitement for me to shake. He was kinda thanking me. And then he actually said “shukria” (Thanks). But I told him he had nothing to thank me for, so he retorted that he will pray for me. I just smiled, and said that this is all I need.

He took me to his home and showed me around so I could come and teach him there for the rest of the two months in Karachi. Nonetheless, I will still try talk in to him the idea of getting complete formal education.

When I was leaving, he had this cute smile on his face, and he said he didn’t want to keep picking trash all his life, that he wanted to be like me, dress like me, and become a good man. I told him he is already a good man, so good and better than rest of us that he doesn’t know it all. He probably was too simple to understand it so he didn’t answer me; but it is important for me — and the rest of us — to understand him and the ilks. There is too much to understand, empathise and act. But to act quick. We are losing it badly in our country now.

28 Years

28 years have passed now. And sometimes I wonder what exactly I have done in all these years. I am not sure how to answer. If anything, I haven’t been able to achieve so much of what I wished to achieve. But this does not mean that I am unhappy with what I am now or how things are around me. I have to say that I am very much happy and contented; I am better than millions of people; or maybe billions? Quite different are the feelings of being incomplete and these feelings originate from the unaccomplished or half-accomplished objectives I planned sometime somewhere in life. I think having these feelings are still natural and not relevant to materialistic desires and cannot be tantamount to being unthankful.

It’s Painful!

I saw this new guard in my street today who came only for a two-day duty. This young guy was so awful sick as I talked to him! He has similar illness as mine and is incurable on permanent basis. He was so worse and in deep pain yet working to feed himself. Seeing his life I said to myself I wouldn’t have survived if I were him .. working as an underpaid guard with even no access to clean water and even no place to sleep, and much more! Not that his sickness was any different than mine, I still was in better place than him with access to health facilities and a roof under which I can sleep sound; even a lot more that I have and he doesn’t: like, having family and friends. He barely have any, and apparently no parents at all whom he lost 18 years back when he was 4. Seeing his pain — knowing the worse of it personally — and empathising him just made me wept while standing there. Fortunately it was dark. I prayed silently!

I then brought my medicines to give them to him and he was happy. I asked him if he has cell phone so I can have his number and provide him meds on regular basis. But he didn’t have a cell. So I asked him that since he is leaving tomorrow morning, he can still come to me anytime, in fact he should come to me again, and I will give him meds when the ones he got now are finished.

We need to fix our healthcare system. We need more empathy, we need to be more responsible … we are not doing anything … It is painful even more now with the pain I go through daily!