While traveling to a class at noon a few days back, I had to endure an unavoidable tailback of roughly one hour. One’s patience has to undergo numerous tests every day, especially if you have a ‘good’ fortune to have been born in one of the most overpopulated cities in the world, precariously on the verge of a population explosion. It seems that life is a perpetual struggle for the people of this city an everyday monotony and a vicious cycle of dissatisfaction and regret.
One of the good things about Ramadan is that we tend to exercise some self-restraint on ourselves, our attitudes and behavior. We remind ourselves that it is not okay to swear or backbite or lie, at least for a month. We become charitable and empathetic, and instead of looking away irritably whenever a beggar appears, we drop a change or two, in their outstretched palms. But then we go home, log into our respective social media profiles inundated with posts about ‘The best Iftar deals in town’ or the ‘Buy one get one free’ offers, and before long, we start planning a busy Iftar schedule full of outings and hangouts.
Around 40 villages in Cox’s Bazar have already been flooded by the incoming cyclone Mora, as we munch on our delectable ‘piyajus’ and ‘begunis’ during Iftar. While we rush off to the biggest shopping malls, these people will fight nature’s wrath, just to survive.
I can vaguely recall an incident that remains etched across my memory till date. It was a scorching mid -summer afternoon as my mother and I were returning home by rickshaw. The sweltering heat bore down on us throughout the entire journey and my relief knew no bounds as we finally reached home after an exhausting trip. While paying the rickshaw fare, to my utter bewilderment my mother asked the rickshaw-puller to wait for a few minutes, saying she would just come back. Wondering what she had on mind, I curiously followed suit after her.
She hurriedly rushed upstairs and swiftly pulled open my father’s cupboard. Sifting through the countless shirts inside, she retrieved an old, faded shirt from the bottom of the drawer. Clutching it, she went back to the rickshaw puller waiting downstairs and gave it to him.
Later when I questioned mom she replied somberly, “All the time while sitting the rickshaw, did you for once look at the man’s shirt? It was tattered and the seams were falling apart, exposing parts of his back. Such is the grinding poverty that exists around us that a destitute man cannot even afford a bare necessity like clothing.’’
It was a simple, forgettable incident. But strangely I still remember it.
Let us not forget, that no matter how fragmented, how divided the world around us may be, even the smallest acts of kindness count. It is definitely a cruel world out there, but as long as love and humanity thrive in some hearts, it can always be a better place to live in.
The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kinds.’
Writer: Lamia Mohsin