Picking up the newspaper, Mr. Ahmed thought about all the possible news: target killing, pollution, roads piled up with the heap of garbage… and nothing more. He sighed, as his eyes traced over the paper. It was all as he expected.
When it all will change? He asked himself. Maybe a bit loudly. “When we will change ourselves” Mrs. Ahmed replied, as she placed the cup of tea in front of him. She took a seat beside him. “But where should we start from? What should be our first priority?” Mr. Ahmed was still confused. “Our first priority”! exclaimed Mrs. Ahmed. “That’s what I am saying: we should start with our own selves. Think of how many years we have spent in this city and what have we done for it.
“Perhaps nothing,” replied Mr. Ahmed.
“That’s the point,” said Mrs. Ahmed a bit excitedly. “I was thinking about the same matter concluded that we should take a step forward in making our city a better place and we should start this movement from our own home and own street.”
Mr. Ahmed smiled widely at his wife.
Ali wore his favourite white shalwar suit and went downstairs to reach the mosque in time. Imagining himself standing in the first row, he scampered towards the mosque. Suddenly, a load of something fell with a thump on his head and splashed stinky filth on his clothes. Mother opened the door, but without saying a word, he hurried towards his room. Mother was shocked to see him back. Hearing Ali whimper, she followed him. With a thumping heart, she asked him about what had happened? “Why did you come back? What on earth happened to your clothes?”
“Somebody threw a bag full of garbage on me,” replied Ali, downcast.
“Thank God!” she heaved a sigh of relief.
“Mother!” Ali protested
“It was an accident,” she consoled. “Quickly, take a bath while I press your grey shalwar suit.”
Ali again left for Namaz.
Mrs. Ahmed kept thinking about the same matter whole day. She thought that she had trained her students very well about cleanliness and its importance in Islam. Now what can she do for the society? How can she spread awareness around her?
She thought about distributing pamphlets, but rejected the idea as it would only create more garbage. She thought of making speeches, but it will have no effect. This matter doesn’t need words; it needs practical contributions. She should play a role in cleaning the society. Only this can affect the people. After thinking over it for a couple of hours, she planned to start a practical contribution along with her students.
The next day, when Mrs. Ahmed entered her class, students greeted her with Salam. Mrs. Ahmed started the discussion and directed it towards pollution. Students started sharing their views about the unattended ever increasing garbage heaps in their neighborhood, the black fumes emitted by vehicles and the purposeless honking on the roads. Then Mrs. Ahmed said: “All of you experience pollution every single day. You keep complaining about it but the question is what have you done for it?” There was a pin drop silence in the classroom.
Her next question was, “Should we do something about it?” “Yes!” The class replied in one voice. “Today evening, let us devote time to our city. I want you all together at the play ground.”
“Okay,” replied the students, with excitement.
In the evening, all the students of class five gathered in the ground. Mrs. Ahmed was happy to see some of the mothers accompanying the children.
First, they all took a mop and started sweeping the streets. They collected all the garbage in one corner. The passersby also joined in. Mrs. Ahmed asked some of them to buy plants from the nursery and requested others to bring dustbins; they all did as they were told. Mr. Ahmed also joined them when he returned from work. They dug the corner of the grounds and decorated it with beautiful plants and watered them. They also placed dustbins on the streets so that people don’t throw garbage on the roads.
The whole area looked clean and beautiful. Everyone felt proud to be a part of it.
“Now I will never face that terrible accident, I had come across last Friday.”
Ali thought, as a cool breeze lapped over his face.
By Umaima Shoaib
Usman Public School System