Making life happen · Motherhood

A Pakistani Illusion

So if I’m really busy, I can’t hear the rickshaws outside.

Don’t get me wrong, I love rickshaws, my kids cry if we call for the Uber cars instead of the Uber rickshaws. They consider the trips pure fun.

I’m not talking about the rickshaws actually. This is all about stark contrast. Despite the age of the house I’ve moved into, its very comfortable. I have everything I need, minus the occasional lack of electricity and hot water.

If I don’t leave the house, I could pretend I’m somewhere else. If I never draw the curtains, my imagination might work even better.

After I moved to Lahore three weeks ago, someone told me that after a while I’d become immune to dirt and chaos.

Really? Is that possible?

It doesn’t matter that I don’t like seeing the broken streets or the dismal grey that everything seems to be made of.

How can I pretend it doesn’t exist?

I lived here ten years ago and watched people turn up their noses at residential areas that weren’t far enough from the villages and uneducated masses. I couldn’t understand why the elite wanted to hide themselves deeper and deeper into lavishly designed social enclaves, while the world outside only became greyer in comparison.

I can’t close my eyes to the barefoot children. I can’t drive past the bundles of electric wires hanging from poles like vines in a tropical jungle. I can’t pretend the staring eyes peering out of hardworked and dusty faces, don’t look at me with wonder. I can’t breathe without smelling the debris and smoke that linger in the air. I can’t walk down the street and be deaf to the hollow arrogance of everyone around me, rich or poor. 

Should I choose to live here, I can’t be blind, deaf and dumb. I can’t stand up and say I love my country or that I’m proud of it and applaud the people for something they haven’t done. All I see is denial. It’s a noisy country, where life often revolves around food, fashion and cricket. Narcissism runs deep in the culture. Racism wears the mask of religious factionism; it’s all nothing but an ethnic divide.

But then, who am I to say anything… all I want, is to run away.


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