a young pakistani doctor blogs...
Monday, November 14, 2005
  Scratching your life away.
My father is a professor. He’s a highly accomplish man who has marked his career with awards and medals. No one did it for him, he did it all himself. His parents were both dead before he was five and he practically raised himself out of poverty. When he got a job in Jeddah in the university there, I was born a year later. Prior to that, both my parents lived a very difficult live.

When I was about 12, my father took us back to the village he was born. It’s in a Godforsaken desert in the north of the country, where little grows out from the ground and most people are hopelessly poor. That was the first time I saw my uncle – my father’s brother. He is a shy sort, very unobtrusive and gentle. He looks vaguely like my father, but unlike my father, he is not overburdened with intelligence, if you know what I mean.

My uncle doesn’t have job. He’s illiterate and has a bad case of osteoarthritis. Most of his income comes from growing crops in the little land that he has, and that isn’t much. My father helps him out regularly with money.

My uncle has 11 kids. All from one wife. And there are more on the way. When my father, occasionally raises the issue of the number of kids he has, the response is not very positive. The consensus amongst the people in the village is that if God wants to give them more children, then He will take responsibility for feeding them too. So you see, it’s all God’s blessings, not their own stupidity, that results in such families. The kids don’t have much of an education, are often undernourished and are bound to be trapped in the same life of poverty their parents are in now.

During the off-season, when the crops have been planted and there is nothing to do but wait for them to grow, the daily routine of most in the village consists the following:

Waking up from sleep.
Going to sleep.
Sitting in the chowk with the other men and talking.
Sleeping in the chowk.
Waking up from sleep in the chowk.
Scratching themselves.
More scratching.
Harassing the wives for favors.
More sleeping.

There are so many ways they could make themselves useful in the village. They could finish the sewer line they started so that the wastewater from the houses no longer snakes across their streets. But no, such activities are the government’s job, not theirs. They could get a job. But no someone has to stay back and do the scratching.

It’s argued that these people are stuck in poverty and for this reason, much cannot be expected of them. But shouldn’t they take responsibility for their own condition? They don’t work hard in the first place, so don’t they deserve to be where they are? How much is due to the poverty they were born into, and how much due to their own laziness? I’m coming to think that for many such people, even if opportunities present themselves, they will make little use of them. Their biggest setbacks are self-inflicted. Perhaps when Jinnah used to say ‘Work, work and more work,’ he was saying it with a certain degree of exasperation.

As far as pakistan is concerned I've always believed because the society promotes the group at the expense of the individual..personal responsibility is not something understood let alone encouraged.

Islam does not accept that..after all it believes while God is aware of all, we are responsible for all our actions and Allah i believe does not have a high opinion of those who blame him or others for their actions.

Obviously the reverse applies in the west where it is the individual benefitting at the expense of the group.
i like ur post...and i agree...in Pakistan there is no damn concept of doin something on an individual level...there's no concept of a society per se, a harmony that in itself defies the very concept of Islam being the accepted religion there...we are quite brilliant assholes...
I think we tend to blame the ignorant. Our society in actual has been ruined by the literate and highly professional peopole not these poor guys who couldn't even get 2 years of education. They know nothing and it is the responssibility of us the educated lot to take them along but we are too busy in our business. Nobody looks into ones own cliche what he has done for the society. I's sorry to say what did your father do other than helping his brother with money. He is a professor. He should have done to educate people of the village at large instead of helping only his brother generously.
These poor men who keep on sitting on the chowks have nothing to eat. No one is there to teach them in actuality that family planning is not a sin and for God sake don't take all words of the vilalge Maulvee as a acually all words of God. I am more than sure as I have experience if you tell someone something sensibly keeping in view the ability, mental level and social set, they always tend to agree. It is us who have to take the initiative but like you we all are busy in the preparation to run from this country.
Sorry for this rude comment. Just impulsese of mind
No, its okay, I don't consider your comments rude.

I think its naive to think that all these people lack is a bit of guidance from the 'educated' sector of the community. Furthermore, topics like family planning are extremely sensitive. My father tells me that every time he raises the issue his relatives get very irritable and recalcitrant. Its not a lack of guidance, it’s the wrong kind of guidance that is perhaps their biggest problem. Their maulvi’s teach them all sorts of odd things and they are obliged to accept. A non-‘religious’ figure cannot counter the maulvi’s. If the latter were to tell them that family planning is okay, and that God hasn’t promised to feed and cloth anyone and that people die of hunger everyday in the world, maybe they would take greater responsibility for themselves.

I tend to blame the ‘religious’ instruction they receive, which encourages a fatalistic mindset: “If God wants to give me more children, I’ll have more children.”

And its not as if the people in my village are starving. They are a healthy and lively bunch, except when they’re sleeping…
DrPak: I think you are too much inclined twards blaming th religious lot (not that i love them at all). I think what one means to say is that it is us the educated lot who need to take up against these maulvis.
And i can tell you from whatever little experience that i have that dont think that religion governs their life. dont even think that maulvi's brand of religion governs their lives. no. it is the feasability of a thing and more so their convenience that governs their life. Most of these people wouldnt even listen to you if you tell them about a condom for example. bbut i am sure almost half of them use condoms when they are spending the night out. see so they disfigure things.
It is our duty to talk to them in a sensible way ang LEAD them. ofcourse keeping in mind the IQ of the listeners.
Faiz Ahmed Faiz said,
Her charagar ko charagari say guraiz tha
Warna Hameen jo dukh they buhat ladawa na thay
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Recent med school graduate from Peshawar, Pakistan. Started blogging when in throes of final year exams. Currently studying for USMLE Step 1. Aiming for the 2008 Match. I blog about my studies, my worries, and my thoughts on life. I live in Islamabad.

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