September 3, 2010

Reality Check, Anyone?

Al-Quds day rally carnage in Quetta. (Photo:
Incidents keep transpiring in our country that push one to the brink of dementia. Bomb blasts, suicide blasts, suicide rates, rapes, public lynching, gross miscarriages of justice, cheating, fraud, prejudices, biases, corruption, immorality and not in the normal visually indecent way, but the bigger dilemma that has slowly made itself the hallmark of our society, dishonesty, depravity all of them, we see every day and every day we turn our backs on them.

A friend asked me on the day of the Lahore bomb blasts if I actually felt sad about the ordeal that the Lahoris will once again have to undergo, and I was quite surprised by the answer I gave her. I said no, I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel anything. The thing is, I have been numbed and desensitized so much so that I cannot connect on an emotional level with my fellow countrymen. I am unmoved by their plight. I have become resistive to the forces that are trying to penetrate this cocoon that I have invariably created around myself to hide in when the world outside is so cruel.

It isn’t only me though. Nearly all of us have undergone this transformation. Every day I come across people who in earnest, I would probably call pseudo Pakistanis (defined by their gesticulation and their unrealistic lifestyles), but then I stop to think if I am any different than them? There are people for instance, who would willingly spend Rs. 50,000 to buy a new iPhone or a Blackberry, but they don’t even know how many people died in the floods. Or how many were displaced. They wouldn’t be able to tell you how many people died in the Yom-ul-Quds day rally in Quetta, nor would they know about the number of dead in the Lahore triple blasts from the day before. There are people who don’t even know if blasts occurred in the last 48 hours in this country, and there are those who don’t even know where Quetta is.

This is not a measure of judging your patriotism, or your love for your country; this is just a rhetorical post asking you to find out whether you’re in touch with reality. Day in and day out I keep blitzing on with my life not caring about what goes on in the life of the 180 million people of this country. I just care about my neck, my life, my peace. But then, what defines my peace does not even see the light of the day in millions of people’s lives. They probably never even dream about it.

I wake up every day with the thought that I face an uncertain future, but if all else fails, I might salvage some pride by ending up somewhere. But then I realize there are people who wake up every day with one goal in their minds: surviving today. There is a massive disconnect that has burned itself into our social fabric. We, the privileged class with our Facebooks, and Twitters, and MSNs have never really delved beyond the surface. You will probably read this and scrap it. You will feel sorry for the country and you might feel helpless. If you really feel like doing something, the most you will do is send out a tweet deploring your countrymen, yourself, the society and what not, and you will probably set a sad, disheartened Facebook status deploring our plight. But that is the end of it. You will move on with your life because you do not understand the horrors of being one of the common people. It is our dilemma. The privileged class’s dilemma.

It has been one month since the floods ravaged our country. In the last three days, we have lost a total of at least 85 Pakistanis to mind boggling terrorist attacks. How many of us are interested in either of the stories? The Sialkot lynching provided a much needed moment of introspection for us but we squandered it by blaming ourselves, our society, the environment that we have grown up in, our social fabric, our judicial system. And then, we moved on. That incident was a wakeup call. It told us to shelve our cocoons and step into the real world and take cognizance of our plight. But we did not like that notion, so we continued with the status quo. We wrote a few articles, said a few words, lambasted the police and all was well.

Our traditional values espousing despondency need to be challenged. Because I’m sick of being sad, and I believe those who care are also tired and bogged down by our ineptitude. We need a reality check; we need to shelve our safety bubbles and step out into the real world. Because that’s the only way we’ll ever reconnect with the reality called life in Pakistan.