Yesterday I had just gotten up after my nap for which many homeless would be willing to kill while it was unsatisfactory for me, when I switched on m TV. I was going through the channels when I just happened to chose one news channel which was broadcasting live updates about poor old people waiting in line for their pension. As I was just about to start eating breakfast which was brought to me by my maid neatly placed at the trolly, suddenly breaking news appeared.
A man died while waiting in line for his pension to receive. The bulletin said he had been waiting for his turn all morning and came early in the evening before that to get a better place in the queue but still his turn did not arrive yet. Perhaps he died while he was hungry. Perhaps he had eaten something which was not suited for him, but I rather doubt that our National Banks provide any refreshments for long list of people standing in queue.
*Chehra bata raha tha keh maara hai bhuuk nai*
The look on the corpse seemed it died of hunger
*Or log keh rahay thay kuch khaa k mar gaya*
And people assumed it was case of food poisoning
After all, old people standing in queue are very huge in number. It is better to ignore than him and present odd beverages to selected clients who come by occasionally to make their huge deposits. In an age where transactions are done through ATMs and mere sms etc, government’s most effective way to give pension to elderly are making sure to get them in line. After all, every one got to work hard for earning right?
I had once or twice had the coincidence to fill my traffic challan in National Bank on the date when people usually receive their pensions. I remember very well the huge line in which people were standing in the queue in heat. I had come by on my car and because it was not like my bread and butter was dependent on that challan receipt so I skipped it that day.
I did that because I could do so.
On the second occasion this coincidence occurred, I chose to stay in queue. Mainly because it was the last day and I did not want to go to *kachehri*, mainly because of my discomfort, rather than the double fine. While staying there I observed how toilsome it can be for all the people that have to come there every month receive the cash. There were few chairs on which some people were sitting in turns by swapping their positions in the queue from time to time. The ‘lucky’ ones who had managed to find or convince any young member of the family to come along with them were able to remain in queue through proxy. However there weren’t many.
Just like the case of person in question. No one could find anyone related to him at the scene at the time of his death. I do not know whether he had no immediate children, or were they too busy, or had they abandoned him for a long time or they were still his dependents for whom he was waiting their overnight.
Watching the news and the breakfast in front of me I did not feel like eating. But than I ate none than less. While eating I controlled a tear drop, kept thinking that perhaps I should leave the remaining *paratha*.
In the end I thought empty gestures hardly matter. If I am not willing to do something real for him, why waste time on pathetic empty gestures. I finished my breakfast like I would any other day. I went to office like always. In the free time I got at office I checked my facebook updates. I had meant to write this that very day. But among office works, my facebook chat and just-sitting-and-doing-nothing, I did not find time. Sometime during the day I would think of him, make a sigh and than continue my routine.
Just like every one in Pakistan would do so. So much death due to natural disasters, terrorism and God knows what else our sense of nation has died out. Or perhaps it was never alive and we are deluding ourselves with such petty excuses. Few days ago a father burned himself alive in front of parliament. In places like Tunisia, such things bring down dictators. In Pakistan, it merely made a third page news item.
In between the thought of bread and butter every day and our personnel problems, we can only perhaps sigh for others misery. Or repeat the footage on TV. It will not do anything of course. Old people die every day without sparking revolutions.
While some get national holidays and titles after their death, it is not the same for others. Who can say struggle to find *roti* is less than struggle for democracy. If you ask me, a person who gets up to find work knowing that his children are hungry at home is perhaps the biggest deserving person to receive any honor. If you ask me this elderly should get Nishan e Pakistan.
After all he represent everything about Pakistan and its people. Week, hungry and poor.
But who cares anyway. Life goes on.