A Life Transforming Experience

villages-of-punjab-pakistan-2It was late in July when I came across a vision so touching in its splendour. It was indeed, a pleasurable morning with stillness all round, the sun was smiling gently down upon us, sounds of chirping birds were also gratifying to my ear, and the weather was as calm as sea in the fresh atmosphere.

My dad was sitting in his chair reading the newspaper while my mom was busy in the kitchen as she was preparing breakfast for us. My younger sister Sadia came rushing down stairs, shouting,’’ Dad, dad!’’ I asked if something was wrong but that little fellow just wanted the attention of her father. She went to him and said in a whining tone, “another month has gone and we have not yet been to a picnic.’’ Our dad never turned down a request from his daughter. He replied,’’ Well, you are right about that, but where to go?’’ My father moved into deep thought and said after a moment with excitement in his voice, ‘’ Oh yes, we can go to my friend who lives in a village!’’ I did not know much about villages so I thought it would be something new and I along with my mother and sister happily agreed.
Few days later, we were packing our bags; my mom and younger sister were putting on their jewellery and make up while my younger brother and dad together with me were waiting for them in the car. We prepared for the journey with great enthusiasm. Our cheeks flushed, boots were shining and excitement seemed to fill our body. My family was looking forward to a thrilling, sizzling and stimulating new adventure!

It was Monday so the roads were busy but my father smoothly drove to the village. After an hour or two, the car had reached its destination safely by the grace of the Almighty Allah. As we stepped out of the car, we saw a vast plain area. There were small houses of bricks, mud or clay. The people were not delighted to see us; we looked alien to them. I said in amazement,’’ Where are we?’’ My dad was not surprised and he called a pedestrian and asked if he could tell us about the residence of Hayyat Mohammad, the man replied, “right there,’’ pointing this finger towards a mansion. That was not far away but we had to cover that small distance on foot. After a walk, we were standing at the gate of the huge dwelling house which was a trendy flavour of structural design.

Extreme poverty was there, such that even their vessels were cracked. This made me realize that people work really hard for things that we take for granted.

At first the guards did not allow us in but as soon as our names were approved they were no more a hurdle for us. I walked into the mansion, observing the tallest ceiling ever, I could also see the wonderful garden that was covering a large area and the beautiful flowers there were also a fascination.

We waited for my dad’s friend in a luxurious room. He did not take much time and appeared just after five minutes. A tall middle-aged man with a broad chest, his beard was mostly black, with a few grey hairs sprinkled in it. My father saw him and stood up and embraced him warmly, he came to meet me too with his hand stretched out in welcome. We returned the greetings and got settled in the sofa which was quite comfortable. It was a perfect drawing room with a beautiful centre table, a book shelve in the corner along with a big TV that had two units on each side. Afterwards, that tall man served us coffee, biscuits and other snacks. Perhaps he was a rich land lord of the village that could afford such an arrangement of top class. Eventually, he turned his face towards me and said, ‘’in which school do you study?’’ I replied, “I am a student of ninth class in Beacon Light Academy that is in Karachi.’’ He was glad to know of it and further inquired about my studies which made him happier. He said to my father, “Your children are in good hands.’’ For a moment, silence had dominated the room when Mr. Hayyat looked at his watch and said, ”I will have to leave but my servant would lead you to your rooms.’’ The room was very well kept and it was a consolation for us. After a while all of my family members had fallen asleep except me because restlessness existed in my nature. I decided to visit the village.

I moved outside the mansion as curiosity forced me to explore the village life, although I was dead tired. Stepping outside the mansion was like leaving a bed of roses and welcoming a bed of nails. The common men of the village were leading a miserable life! They had dressed themselves very simply; most of their children were wearing ragged clothes living in small houses of clay that had insufficient space for the expanded families with empty stomachs. I was surprised, I never knew of people with such a pathetic life style. I felt blue and felt sorry for them, drowning in a sea of grief maybe because I was not at all familiar with that.  Only a cold blooded could pass by calmly. Extreme poverty was there, such that even their vessels were cracked. This made me realize that people work really hard for things that we take for granted.

On that day I made a promise to myself that I would not let a single morsel of food or a single drop of water go in vain because these are precious. Moreover, instead of whining, I would always be grateful to my Lord who has bestowed upon me so many uncountable blessings. I saw their elders working with their fingers to the bone in their farms yet they were unable to make enough money. ‘Why is that so?’ I asked myself. Perhaps it was education, I thought. Maybe education could have made their situation better.

On that day I made a promise to myself that I would not let a single morsel of food or a single drop of water go in vain because these are precious. Moreover, instead of whining, I would always be grateful to my Lord who has bestowed upon me so many uncountable blessings.

I found myself as empty as a lake without water. I did not pay much attention towards my studies although my school and teachers were very good. At that instant, I had recognized the significance of knowledge. I became even more acquainted with the importance of knowledge when I noticed a baby crying and her mother was preparing medicine for the child. The mother could not read and this is why she did not perceive the expire date on the label, I told her that it had expired and would rather be harmful but she refused to obey saying that she did not have enough money to get another one. I came to know of why we say that ‘knowledge is power’. It is because knowledge is a light that comes from the lighthouse in order to guide the ships when it is dark. My heart was sinking and I made a pledge to myself once again that from now on wards I will put my heart in gaining knowledge. Furthermore, I will try to spread the light of knowledge as much as I can. I said to the villagers that time would heal all their wounds but that was a cold comfort to them.

All that I had observed and pondered over turned me into a new leaf. It had transformed me into a careful and mature young man from a reckless and stubborn teenager.Whatever I saw had a noteworthy optimistic effect on me!

The Menace of Extravagancy

lavish-wedding

Not once in a person’s life, one must have attended a lavish wedding in a five-star hotel where as soon as one sets foot in the hall, one gets a hint of the massive amount of money expended on the occasion. Valuable cash can be seen thrown on everything from the huge hall adorned with thousands of lights hanging from the ceiling and luxurious tapestries embellishing the walls to miniscule stuff like tiny sequins scattered on the dining tables, neatly polished cutlery and plated candle-stands. In addition, the bride is seen donned in a profligate dress, the cost of which can easily sky-rocket to several thousand rupees; with matching sandals that are no less a burden on the pocket. Not to mention the culinary delights that feature an extensive assortment of dishes prepared in amounts enough to suffice probably five times the number of guests and which, after the occasion, are left to rot in rubbish dumps.

Then one does not let go of other prospects of squandering wealth on unnecessary stuff too. Come any important occasion in the home and all the lights, fans and air-conditioners are switched on even in rooms that aren’t inhabited by guests. Hundreds of tiny light bulbs spring forth draping the lawns, walls and ceilings not to mention the extra electricity being utilized by the stereo systems because they are operating much over the hearing range of a normal man. This ‘electravagancy’ can also be witnessed in one’s daily life in the form of televisions and laptops kept on throughout the day whether they are in use or not.

 in the Quran (Surah Al-Isra, Verse 27), the spendthrifts have been declared as brothers of Shayatin (devils) and the verse goes on to say that Satan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.

Next comes our love for branded items whenever one visits the market place or mall. These include anything ranging from clothes and accessories, to even over-the-counter medications though generic versions of these items can be just as good while being lighter on the wallet. And the list goes on and on and on…..

We have been commanded by Allah not to waste our wealth in Surah Al-A’raf, Verse 31, “…and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) likes not Al-Musrifun (those who waste by extravagance).” In another place in the Quran (Surah Al-Isra, Verse 27), the spendthrifts have been declared as brothers of Shayatin (devils) and the verse goes on to say that Satan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.

A Muslim should infact follow a middle path as depicted in the Quran, “And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach (like a spendthrift), so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty.” (Al-Isra, verse 29)

 It is high time we stop blaming the height of poverty in our country only on the Government. A hefty fraction of the blame falls on us too. If even a portion of the money we waste could be spent on the well being of the under-privileged, a massive change can be brought about.

On the other hand, just a sneak peak at the conditions of the people on the opposite side of the story is enough to reduce a sympathetic person to tears. Millions and millions of our countrymen have, for years been living below the poverty-line and the last few months have witnessed an unprecedented rise in their number. One only has to take a drive on any of the main roads to experience the dilemma that has enveloped us. Children and disabled people begging for alms has become common sight. Hundreds of homeless with ragged clothes and bare feet can be found sheltering under tarpaulins or pieces of clothes on footpaths or snuggled up under blankets. Young boys digging through rubbish-dumps for any re-usable material and in some instances, even for leftovers depict a highly pitiable state.

It is high time we stop blaming the height of poverty in our country only on the Government. A hefty fraction of the blame falls on us too. If even a portion of the money we waste could be spent on the well being of the under-privileged, a massive change can be brought about. So the next time one sets out to buy something or call one’s friends over for a party, he should keep his fellow countrymen in mind and remember that wasting money is not only detrimental to one’s overall financial well-being; it is irresponsible and disliked by Allah too.