The Painful Contrast
Today was unexpectedly hot. The blazing sun above was sending down bursts of fire. The air was dry and warm. She was sitting on the rough pavement with her right hand stretched out. Her lips were dry and her throat, parched. Her whole body was drenched in sweat. The traffic was rushing by her on the main road. She looked at every approaching car with a deep longing, but no one seemed to pay any attention to her. Everybody was in a maddening hurry to reach home. There was a constant throbbing pain in her head. She was dehydrated. She wanted to cry, to ask people for help, to ask for a glass of water but it was a miracle that she was able to hold herself and remain conscious in such weather. Those simple acts were alone putting so much strain on her fragile self that uttering even a single word was out of question. She thought of her children waiting impatiently for her at their 'jhuggi'. She thought of her late daughter, Asmara, who had died a couple of days ago due to heat stroke. She couldn't give up. She couldn't lose any more of her children. She looked around her with pleading eyes. But no one seemed to pay any attention to her.
Chaudhary Ilyas looked around his farm house with pride, the two hundred kanal place was decorated beautifully. He liked what he had done with the place. A couple of days ago, he wasn't very sure that he would be able to pull off something this big. After all holding iftaar party for all the notable politicians and the leading businessmen of the country is not a joke. But everything had turned out to be great. Around him the servants were busy giving the arrangements final touches. He had told them he wanted everything to be perfect. The Chaudhary house had been holding iftaar parties like this every year, since long before he was born. Now the responsibility to carry on this tradition fell on him and he didn't want to be the one to disappoint his forefathers. He went inside to check on the dining room. The centre table was loaded with different varieties of delicious food, their heavenly scent embracing the whole room.
"Sir! the Prime Minister has arrived!" his head butler came in running.
A smile appeared on his face as he went out to greet his guest. Everything had indeed turned out to be great.
Maulana made his way to the backstage. His overgrown belly was making it very difficult for him to pass through the narrow doors. Along his way, many people bowed out of respect for him. Some even came to him and kissed his hand. He let them. This act by the people gave him a sense of superiority that he really enjoyed. For a very little educated man like him, life was exceptionally good. Twenty years ago if anyone had told him that he would end up here, he wouldn't have believed that person at all. 'Deeni Faiz' he called it.
"Alhamdulillah! You were amazing sir! The way you made dua, you got us all in tears! The audience loved it! MashaAllah MashaAllah, God has given you a lot sir, you really must be one of his favorite persons.." the tv anchor, whose show he was on, came to him, "here is your promised cheque sir, SubhanAllah! We were really blessed to have you here. Are you sure you don't want to stay for iftaari?"
Maulana sahab shook his head and looked at the cheque handed to him. A decent seven figure. He smiled, life was good.
She was rolling the Umrah ticket between her fingers . Everyone was looking at her with envy. She was extremely lucky, that's what the tv host told her while giving her the ticket, when she had answered his question right. But she was engrossed in another thought. She had come here in hopes of winning something expensive, something she could sell to get enough money so that she could buy something to cook for at least a few days They had no money. Her husband hadn't got any real job in a month. Life had always been unfair to them. For months they've been eating dry pieces of bread for dinner, but now they didn't even have that. And then this Umrah ticket. Of course like every other Muslim, it was all dream to go to those holy places, but what would this ticket do when they didn't even have enough money to buy something to eat. If only they had some money... If only she were actually able to perform Umrah... If only her son could have something to eat. Her son.. the ten year old who she had left crying of hunger at home... A tear ran on her cheek. Life was really unfair.
"The death toll rose to more than one thousand"
"Thousands have died...."
"Heat wave in Karachi, more than one thousand dead...."
All the news channels were broadcasting the same news in different words. It was painful to watch and read.
"I wish there were something we could do.." he said to his father.
"Yeah, me too son. And look at all these politicians of ours! No one is doing anything. God! All of their promises and everything they ever said in their election campaigns, all lies! ALL LIES! Look at all these people dying. And the only thing our leaders care about is money... And more money!!" his dad replied. He was furious with all of the politicians. This was the second time he had given this speech today, first one was earlier in his office.
"Hey do you know who won that match we were talking about earlier?" his son asked him, suddenly remembering the ongoing hockey tournament.
"Oh.. Was it today? I completely forgot about it. Switch to the sports channels, maybe they'll give an update about it".
And just like that he changed the channel, both father and son completely ignoring the newscaster's request of sending donations for the relief of the affected people in Karachi, while displaying an account number. Apparently, the father had done his job by criticising the high ups, after all it was all the politicians' fault, wasn't it?
"There are two kinds of courts. The courts that we hold here and the court that He will hold there. There might be injustice in ours but there will be nothing but justice in His"
(Ahmad Jalil, 1st Year MBBS)