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.

  • Fahad Raza

    As read this blog, a quote by Hanna More flashed
    Luxury and dissipation, soft and gentle as their approaches are, and silently as they throw their silken chains about the heart, enslave it more than the most active and turbulent vices.
    So true.Recommend

  • Mastishhk

    @ Author………I agree with ur assumptions and empathize with ur emotions u were engulfed with when u saw these underpriveleged children. The problem is that the same feeling would not arise when these kids grow up and yet their condition does not change. They would not look as adorable and their smiles won’t be as charming ten years down the line. Such emotional feelings are fleeting. Its not that we feel the same way everytime we see or meet a poor kid. Its only at times.Recommend

  • Ovais

    This article is a cliche, really you don’t see the fear in their eyes , the uncertainty of their future and u could see the smile on their face. Its sad the youth will always be impervious and live in the bubble world Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/#!/fahadk1985 Fah

    Good article.. and it’s also the perfect time too (Ramadan) to reflect upon the things that all of us “privileged” take for granted. Should do our best to help those in need…Recommend

  • http://- Nietzsche

    Story of my life.
    It’s like, I plunge into a meltdown, whenever I confront these hapless kids in F-11, or Jinnah Super.
    And I realize, they don’t hope for any way to harbor their dreams, but when they do, at least, they exhibit their gratitude with their precious smiles. We are so futile, and ungrateful for everything.
    Thanks for sharing this with us, Zoya.Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    Empathy dear Zoya, empathy is what all of us need in large doses in this cruel material world. We need to do a lot more than sympathize with those without any material possessions. Let us remember that it takes many small drops to make an ocean. Let us do our bit. Recommend

  • parvez

    Your write up smacks of a condescending tone, possibly you genuinely are not aware of this and that is what makes it worse.Recommend

  • proudpaki

    Those children don’t have anything to loose, so they live in the moment unlike most of us…Recommend

  • Aamz

    Awesome :)Recommend

  • Vorbild

    I love how everyone missed the point of the article. I’m pretty sure it’s retarded obvious that they’re deprived and have an uncertain future. However, the author notes that even with their situation, they found happiness, and that we should be thankful for what we have.

    If we all Q.Q’d like you guys and didn’t find happiness in something/anything, the world would stop spinning, I swear. Recommend

  • Shah

    I like this article, but it only tells one side of the story. Its true that we need to be grateful for whatever we have, but how selfish is it to steal from the rare joys of the unpriveleged? If you truly want to feel happy, dont just stand there and watch those kids on the street, how about adding to their undoubtedly shortlived joy? be a little charitable for once, that way everybody is happy. ’cause you never know what follows those few happy moments, or what was happening before. The grim reality still exists, you are blessed; they’re not as lucky. Do something about it, instead of being happy that you’re not them. Recommend

  • NorthernLights

    You complain about thick chapatis? Perhaps you should swap your food with those children’s food. Recommend

  • m_m

    @Mastishhk:
    Really really true.Its only just moments not ‘always” and at other times you hardly take a minute off your busy life to “applaude n envy” them,hardly even notice them.We need to do something for them as well so that when these kids grow up they dont turn into bunch of robbers,or ordinary labourers,cursing silently their deprived lives.WE NEED TO EDUCATE THEM…WE REALLY DO!!Recommend