All is not lost yet
(Maj(r) Azhar Ali, Islamabad)
Absence of pain is joy' is nowhere truer than in Pakistan.Unable to be happy with ourselves , we have condemned our spirits to a state of limbo.Courting catastrophe is a favorite sport. Brooding is a norm and it is pathetic to see that people blessed with so many good things in life are unable to feel fortunate. They are afraid to celebrate what they have and more and more inclined to lament what they don't have or shouldn't have..
Parks in affluent areas after getting tired of waiting for visitors grow tall grass to welcome other forms of life.Cinemas, once a cultural forum, are forbidding not for claustrophobic only.Even wedding ceremonies,ultimate manifestation of human festive nature, fail to stir any jolly feelings.Laughter is a capital transgression and smiling a petty crime.
I was afraid that melancholy within is devouring gaiety without.But, after observing well- to- do people closely, I found that they consider enjoyment in public synonymous with sin.They remain extremely reserved even if something very funny happens in front of their very eyes. Forced out smile quickly disappears leaving no trace of unwelcome visitor behind on the eternally exasperated face. According to a UN survey report, Pakistanis are the least smiling people in the world, Swedes being the most.
There is hardly any difference in funeral and wedding assemblages . Men keep on sulking in either case. Absence of spontaneous expression of joy in affluent class has also something to do with the means they employ to get rich.Though it is usual to adopt foul means to get rich, people remain deprived of pride which should come with success.However imperturbable they may try to seem outwardly,deep down they realize falsehood of their situation. Nothing shuns the pleasure as firmly as pretending for long
The poor in Pakistan are more resilient.They are not ready to give in yet.Their situation is no doubt lamentable, but they are still left with noticeable capacity to seize whatever pollen joy is at hand. I often see how their faces get easily lit up at the the prospect, however slim, of fun. In slums(I happened to walk through one for six months,a shorter route to my place of duty) there is much gaiety to be seen.The young play cricket having back of a broken chair as wickets , football with tennis balls in a ground littered with as big stones,and fly plundered kites after patch working them.I also saw that couples enjoy each other's confidence.Dressed in come-hither clothes the women chat coquetishly with their spouses without any fuss or fear. I have also witnessed groups of men playing cards and boisterously egged on by their women to bet boldly.
I was of the view that the poor are always destitute and keep on compounding their situation by behaving wretchedly. They remain depressed most of the time, their incessant quarrels are not always void of violence and their capacity to enjoy is very limited.But I was amazed to see how easily the poor are ready to embrace joy whenever and wherever it presents itself. Parks within the reach of masses are full on Sundays and public holidays.Shrines are thronged with people who are still keeping faith in themselves and the country. When I see them laughing heartily , I am reminded of a beautiful quotation,'At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.'