How do we define poor? Do we even understand its underlying meaning or since it is used so commonly nowadays that we have failed to understand what it actually means. It is very easy to live in our own little bubble and carry on with the lifestyles that we have but the universe keeps on giving each one of the privileged ones to have a look at how we take so many things for granted that some people can only dream of having. How do I comprehend on something I haven’t experienced? These questions never stopped resonating in my mind since I have started to look at the broader picture of society. I couldn’t help myself but ask this question that can I even do justice about writing an article on poverty while relaxing in my cozy sofa, sipping a cup of tea my servant just brought for me and those cool breezes from the air conditioner brushing my hair?
If I couldn’t purchase 4 Kurta’s from Khadi right away because the money runs out, or the car that I usually drive and take the wheel wherever I wish, runs out of petrol, or couldn’t hold the latest gadget in my hand then I used to consider myself poor. Now when I look around I can clearly say that at that point I didn’t know what I was talking about.
Our housekeeper Aslam chacha, asked my father to lend him some money because his daughter was getting married, on inquiring I was told that the sum was about R.S 25000, which took me by surprise. My sister got married earlier this year and I won’t lie mentioning that my jora for her single event cost more than this. However it filled me up with guilt that how we take a lot of things for granted. It was difficult for me to digest the fact that his daughter’s whole ceremony would be compensated on less than what I spent on my attire. And that too as a credit!
It shook my conscience for a bit and led me to think that this is not about Aslam chacha only. This is about the people we see on streets and traffic signals daily. The people we come across and turn our faces from. The people who are no different from us yet we all are divided amongst the social classes.
The child we see selling ballpoints is not something he is doing out of choice but because he has no other option except for supporting his family. The 6 years old waiter who cleans the table while singing ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ is the same kid who could be wearing a khaki and serving Pakistan. The 8 years old Amna, who not only does the house chores but take care of her younger siblings too so that her parents could step out of the house and earn for them. This is also about the dying dreams of Uzma who wanted to become a pilot and dreamt of flying like a bird but gave up in maternity ward while delivering her 6th child. This is about 28 years old Mushtaq who is stuffed with the debt he took to help his father for a liver transplant. He too desired to become an engineer but couldn’t continue his studies because there was nobody else in the family to be the bread winner. This is about Azam’s family whose children still don’t know what chicken tastes like. And if we dig in a little deep, this is also about a father who sold his daughter for not more than R.S 5000 to pay rent for the ‘house’ he lives in, and the mother who drowned herself and her 3 little children in river Ravi because they were starving since a week. Didn’t they all have dreams? Who is responsible? Who to question? Why one individual has more authority over their own lives than the other? Why can I dream and they can’t? Why can I breathe free when they can’t?
I used to think that why these people are responsible for their own condition since they don’t emphasis on the basic needs like getting education. It actually offended me once to the core when I found out that my friend’s maid’s son has discontinued his school to work as a laborer. However I feel that I am in no position to be judgmental because it is not their fault.
I think of education as an important in fact the most vital aspect in my life because I don’t have to worry about food, shelter, sanitary and privacy. Convenience as I could collectively say is all I have. But they don’t even have a shelter to accommodate their families. They are never sure at night that whether the next sunrise will bring them food and fill their appetite. They don’t have water for hygiene and drinking purposes which brings out a lot of diseases with it and the helpless mother puts her children to bed right as the sun sets since she has no food to feed them at night.
How can they think of attaining education, having a life style or thinking about their rights when a basic need is something they have to struggle for every day? Every single day.
The authority holders should get down from their high horses and start to work for the ones who have to struggle each day to survive yet are hopeless. They stand their all alone fighting to not give up because they know they can’t get away without it. However they still look at us with dreams and hopes in their twinkling eyes, pleading us to save them from such a monster of poverty. We should understand our social responsibility and take it as our duty to help them, to reach out at them. They deserve better, they should get better because they are one of us.