The warm smiles on their faces and things we take for granted

Published: August 18, 2011
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An ungrateful attitude as such makes you wonder when you see the plight of the poor children in Pakistan, who smile through their suffering. PHOTO: REUTERS

I was out shopping one day, when I was stopped in the parking lot of a super market by the sound of a dhol and voices of children singing. Right there, I saw a sight that warmed my heart and made me smile with genuine awe.

A few children, between the ages of seven and eleven, clad in ragged clothes, in a condition that clearly said “deprived”, were sitting in a circle playing the dhol on the footpath. They had around them a few used boxes of KFC.

Singing, laughing, and engaged in some cheerful discussion, these minors seemed oblivious to the world around them. The fact that they didn’t have proper clothes to wear or that they were eating some fortunate kid’s leftovers didn’t seem to vex them one bit. In fact, to them it was more like a feast. It was one of those picture perfect moments that fits the statement “a picture is worth a thousand words”.

I was instantly reminded of the fact that money can’t buy happiness. It’s a cliché (forgive me for using one) but a cliché because it is true. At once, I felt like an ungrateful, belligerent brat. I realized that despite the privileged life I have been blessed with, I am quick to complain about minor, insignificant daily happenings. For example, I would certainly complain if Ruby, my maid, made the chapaties thicker than usual, or if my driver didn’t know the way to Eclipse, and so on.

An ungrateful attitude as such makes you wonder when you see the plight of the poor children in Pakistan, who smile through their suffering. I was on my way home from dinner, one night, when I saw four under-privileged children (two girls and two boys) sitting in the open trunk of a yellow taxi cab. The joy written all over their faces could make the hardest of hearts melt. They were having the time of their lives in the trunk of a yellow taxi cab. Their glee was so touching that someone from the car in front of ours just had to capture the moment. As he pulled out his cell phone to take a picture, one of the boys pasted the most adorable, toothy smile on his face.

I didn’t care who the boy was. I didn’t care about the fact that he looked messy, or that he probably hadn’t taken a bath in weeks. At that moment, all I felt was his infectious glee and I was overcome with a desire to hug him and thank him for the smile he had drawn straight from my heart.

It is sad how underprivileged people discover such delight in privileges we often take for granted, be it a half eaten box of KFC chicken or a ride in the trunk of a taxi cab. We recently bought a house in Karachi and were actively renovating. By the end of the day, my dad would often drive the renovators from our house to the bus stop.  One day, when he was driving the labourers, he rolled down the car windows since the air-conditioning was giving him a minor headache. One of labourers immediately blurted,

 “Uff, garam hawa aagai.”

(Argh, the hot air).

This prompted me to wonder, what a treat it must be for them to be sitting in an air-conditioned car; an everyday occurrence for us, which we take for granted.

We are so blessed with numerous luxuries in our lives that we seldom take notice of them anymore. These privileges have become so normal to us now that their absence is unbearable. For a change, let us acknowledge our blessings. Let us stop complaining. Let us derive happiness from the simpler things in life.

Zoya Nazir

Zoya Nazir

The writer is a first year A levels student. She was an exchange student in America from 2010-2011, and did her O levels from The City School Islamabad.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.