A World Beyond Our Own by Hareem Farooq

Thursday, June 08, 2017 KELS 0 Comments Category :

As the screeching sounds approach closer, I give my mother the routine accusing looks and with the frown that was now becoming an almost permanent feature of my face, I reluctantly open my car door. Groaning, I let myself out of the comfort of my air conditioned car and walk into the gigantic monster of a bus, shuffling across the crowd of people to look for a decent seat to spend the next uncomfortable hour in.
With my head resting against the window, I unwillingly stare out at the same mundane view, simultaneously cursing the university bus for coming so early in this chilly weather. Moments later, I doze off to complete my missing hours of the previous night’s sleep but the bumpy ride makes my head collide with the window and disrupts my slumber. Annoyed, I wake up and resume my aimless observation. Far on the other side of the road, I notice a pile of something wrapped up in a flimsy piece of cloth, lying on the footpath. I struggle to decipher what it really is when I realize that it’s not just one, there are many like it, rows and rows of the same piles wrapped up in different cloths. Suddenly, my grave mistake strikes me; the ‘it’ I have been using is erroneous, I realize, since it’s no inanimate object. Where people like myself complain of having missed a few minutes of our 8 hours of ‘beauty sleep’, there are others out there like us that live more like objects and less like human beings. In a world beyond our own, where after working countless hours each day, people don’t have a warm sanctuary to return to and when exhaustion takes tall, it is on these rock hard roadsides in the freezing cold weather that these people quietly resort to for refuge. The thought makes me shudder.
 Just then, the bus takes the turn in front of Jinnah Hospital and another thought provoking scenario awaits my gaze. Sitting on the mud laden roadside on either side of the hospital gate are hordes of people, hungrily devouring the meager amount of food some angelic NGO has left for them. The grief of a loved one fighting for his life is etched on their faces, yet their physiological needs cloud all human emotions. The scene brings before my eyes the memory of the fights I had put up with my maid numerous times for serving me food that was not ‘optimally’ warm or the days I had shoved my half eaten plate away because of the huge tantrum I had thrown on the most trivial issue. Never did I realize in the heat of those moments that there was a world beyond my own where palatability did not even come into question, rather every particle of food mattered.
The speeding bus interrupts my thoughts, only to grant me with new ones- thankfully or unthankfully.  The specks of neon green and orange that seemed insignificant blotches from afar begin to take human form. ‘Lahore Waste Management Company’, the logos on their shirts read. Clearing endless stretches of roads and picking up garbage defines their life. The images of my daily life begin to seem like an increasing weight on my shoulders, as the countless times when my siblings and I had carelessly shoved trash out of car windows flash before my eyes. While ensuring that our expensive cars remain spotlessly clean and our grandiloquent lifestyles flawless, we fail to acknowledge the world beyond our own; a world where human beings physically identical to us are left behind to pick up the litter of those who, by no effort of their own, were somehow born superior to them. The contrast is inhumane.
As the traffic signal causes the bus to halt, it simultaneously starts the countdown for the children of various ages who run towards the stationary vehicles, in an attempt to gain enough to spend another day of their burdensome existence. ‘Ignore them, they’re professional beggars,’ people like us conveniently say and turn them away, never once giving a thought to the fact that even this so called professionalism stems from insurmountable levels of helplessness. Despite the abuses and accusations hurled at them, not a crease crosses their faces, for the small amount of money this brings to them to feed their growling stomachs matters much more than any manufactured concept of self respect created by the bourgeoisie. Echoes of my own voice saying how my tedious study routine was turning me into a robot begin to pierce me, as the thanklessness begins to reek from these words. Had we been more appreciative of the fact that in a world beyond our own even knowledge is nothing more than an unaffordable commodity, the alternates to which are no less than a nightmare, abhorring the huge pile of books on our shelves or fussing over the long list of scheduled tests would be the last thing on our list of problems.
Being engrossed in our petty day to day issues, we fail to notice this ‘world beyond our own’ in which people are deprived of the basic necessities of life. The rat race in this rapidly evolving world has taken away an essential component of humanity: emotion. Social stratification might be a necessary evil that we have no control over, but it does not automatically legitimize stratification in abstract spheres of life, such as empathy and respect for a fellow being. It is time we realize that if, by nothing but a sheer stroke of fate, we are born better off than somebody, it puts an added responsibility on us to ensure that we play our part in bridging this gap; let it be by monitory compensations, merely by a word of comfort or by living our own lives with modesty and gratefulness instead of taking our blessings for granted. Before becoming better professionals, lets vow to become better humans.