What’s going on? My countrymen

By : Shahzada Ahsan Ashraf Sheikh

Sometimes in the dark of the night

I visit my conscience

To see if it is still breathing

For its dying a slow death

Every day.


When I pay for a meal in a fancy place

An amount which is perhaps the monthly income

Of the guard who holds the door open

And quickly I shrug away that thought

It dies a little


When I buy vegetables from the vendor

And his son “chhotu” smilingly weighs the potatoes

Chhotu, a small child, who should be studying at school

I look the other way

It dies a little.


When I am decked up in a designer dress

A dress that cost a bomb

And I see a woman at the crossing

In tatters,trying unsuccessfully to save her dignity

And I immediately roll up my window

It dies a little


When I buy expensive gifts for my children

On return, I see half clad children

With empty stomach and hungry eyes

Selling toys at red light

I try to salve my conscience by buying some, yet

It dies a little

When my sick maid sends her daughter to work

Making her bunk school

I know I should tell her to go back

But I look at the loaded sink and dirty dishes

And I tell myself that is just for a couple of days

It dies a little


When I hear about a rape

or a murder of a child,

I feel sad, yet a little thankful that it’s not my child

I can not look at myself in the mirror

It dies a little


When people fight over caste creed and religion

I feel hurt and helpless

I tell myself that my country is going to the dogs

I blame the corrupt politicians

Absolving myself of all responsibilities

It dies a little

When my city is choked

Breathing is dangerous in the smog ridden metropolis

I take my car to work daily

Not taking the metro,not trying car pool

One car won’t make a difference, I think

It dies a little


So when in the dark of the night

I visit my conscience

And find it still breathing

I am surprised

For, with my own hands

Daily, bit by bit, I kill it, I bury it.

The writer is former federal minister and chairman, managing director PIA

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