In one of the Hollywood movies, the final days of French royal family before the blood-soaked revolution has been shown. People are angry as there are no jobs; they have no bread to eat and government officials kill hundreds of people, both the revolutionists and the neutral innocents, in order to avert the dangers of revolution. On the other hand, the King and the rich upper class of France live a life as if they are making fun of the poor and their every single act ridicule the poor and ignite their feelings. The king is shown to be busy all the time in activities to enjoy the life and show his importance. In a scene, almost two dozen maids are shown busy in checking the every single detail of the dress, shoes and hair of the King. Then, a number of rich families gather in the palace to celebrate a special occasion.
They wear their best dresses and pass through the angry crowds of poor and hungry in their marvelous carriages. In the palace, when everyone gathers, the King announces to have a small game in which a big piece of diamond is tied to the neck of a pig and the one who will catch the pick, will get the diamond as a reward. Then this stupid game starts and they have no worry except to run after this pig. Most of the time, they are found to be talking about their fancy clothes, jewelry, and other possessions.
There are also present some who want to tell the king about the actual conditions and in reply to such a briefing, the King utters his famous sentence. When he is told that people are dying out of hunger and have no bread to eat, he becomes absolutely surprised and says, ‘If they don’t have bread, they should eat cake’. But the conversation doesn’t end here. When he is told about the reality, he orders to supply the flour to the people which has been turned down by army after being found rotten. But the King insists that he would prefer feeding his army as a strong army would be able to crush these hungry rebels.
In 2010, our neighboring country Pakistan experienced the worst flooding in its history. The violent flood water wiped away thousands of towns and villages and left behind worst imprints of disaster. In December, when the flood water had restricted to the Arabian Sea after leaving behind thousands of catastrophic stories, I had a chance to visit some of the worst-affected places. The restoration phase had just slowed down and all the efforts had been done to rehabilitate the effected people. In this effort, all the countries of the world came to assist Pakistan and especially Turkey was much appreciated by the effected people and I saw a large number of built-in houses provided by the people of Turkey. Jacobabad was also one of the worst affected places where we reached late at night.
At many places, most part of the paved road was wiped away by the flood water and there was present a narrow strip of road which soon got blocked when vehicles came from both the sides. Although, many months had passed after the flood but flood water was still standing at many places and especially by the sides of the highway. Hundreds and thousands were still not able to return to their hometowns and villages and they lived in those small huts that were made as a temporary arrangement for them. These huts included of a number of wood logs covered by weak pieces of cloths that worked as their walls. There was no arrangement to protect these huts from the water and moist which was in abundance in these places so these huts had in fact no floor and it was very difficult for me to imagine how they managed to sleep in these huts without any floor. The more we went in the interior Baluchistan, more were the stories of damage and deprivation. They had very less to eat, had no proper shelter to protect them of the heat and the cold, and in general, life was very difficult and miserable. In the end, our journey finished in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan.
Islamabad is the most beautiful city of Pakistan which was built on modern standards not so long ago. It is a green city with a lot of gardens, parks and places of amusement. Its urban arrangements are up to the international standards and there are very fine markets and neatly built houses. It is a city of development and prosperity where you can see grand villas and latest vehicles on the roads. But I was much impressed by the educated, polite and modern residents of the city. It looked as if they belonged to any advanced European country as they wore the imported dresses, ride on finest vehicles, lived in beautiful and well-facilitated houses and shopped in modern shopping malls. They talked to their children in English and enjoyed with their families the delicious dinners in the finest restaurants.
When I came to the airport to leave the city, I saw a large number of passengers waiting for their plane. Everywhere there were signs of prosperity and satisfaction. There were busy and important looking businessmen, eagerly waiting for their flight, there were nicely dressed women fully soaked in their appearance, there were happy children busy in eating snickers and imported potato chips and there were youngsters and teenagers, busy in their iphones and ipads. While I was sitting at the airport and observing the people, I remembered the scenes from the movie and I thought how would they ever realize the conditions of a person who doesn’t have a dry floor to sleep in his hut because they live in big houses, travel in wide and air-conditioned cars, fly by planes and eat in Italian or Chinese restaurants. They may have no idea of what a hut is or how it feels to have nothing to eat.
Right from the history of human civilization, there has been desire to live a wonderful life. In different times, this objective was met by different things but in today’s world, we see that more and more of us are developing the desire of having more and more. We want luxury houses, best cars, most fashionable dresses, most delicious foods, and this list never ends. Famous Pashto poet, Rehman Baba says that no one would ever feel enough from the world until the death comes and fills his stomach with the mud after which his desires will come to an end.
The desire for a comfortable and civilized life is the right of every member of society but it should be kept in mind that, while achieving all these and enjoying the blessings of our life, we should not start feeling and acting like the rich families of France. In present Kabul, I see a number of people who have reached to the peak of luxury living and at the same time, I see that their indifference and indulgence in their own joyful life has started injecting the virus of hatred in the poor who strive a lot to find the mere bread for their families. If we did not come out of this sedated condition of negligence and indifference, there may be another French revolution waiting for us.