Naureen Aqueel

Archive for December 2002

An edited version of this was published in Dawn, Young World, December 21, 2002.

It was the first snowfall of the season. Children, wrapped up in coats, sweaters and mufflers, all of different hues, giggled delightedly as the watched with fascination, the pure white snowflakes sprinkling from the sky. Amidst this jovial environment a little boy in worn and torn up clothes wearily limped across the street, carrying a stack of wood on his little shoulders. The poor ten-year-old boy, Asif shivered in the cold as he proceeded towards his home. As he watched the other children cheerfully welcoming winter a tear rolled down his cheek and he wished that winter could be as easy for him as it was for the others… Asif’s father had died one year before and now he was the only hope of his family.

With his teeth chattering due to the cold, Asif entered the slum where he lived. Tentatively, Asif entered his home made of bricks, straws and pieces of cloth. Inside it was no worse than it was outside. Asif was greeted by the same bitter and frosty cold. Inside it was drearier.

“Oh Asif! You’re finally here!” his mother hurried to him with a relieved sigh. “Munna is severely ill,” she sobbed indicating the state of his one-year-old brother. She fell into Asif’s arms and her body was engulfed into a series of shudders and snivels.

“Mom he will be alright,” Asif spoke softly trying to console his mother, although he himself was scared. Asif hesitantly walked over to see his brother who was lying on the cot. What he saw made him gasp in shock.

The little baby was lying listless wrapped in a worn out blanket, his little body trembling as he looked at him. The baby’s face was ghastly pale and his lips were almost blue. Asif picked up the baby and held him dearly. He lifted the palm of his other hand to smother the sound of his own sobs.

Cautiously, Asif put the baby down, took off his own sweater and wrapped it around the little body. Then hastily he did the next sensible idea that came to his mind. He gathered the wood he had bought and lit up a fire with his frostbitten fingers. Then he put his little bother near the fire to keep him warm.

“Mom, you take care of Munna, I’ll be right back with help.” Asif instructed his mother, his voice cracking and his vision blurred by he tears flowing down his face.

“But Asif, you’ll get cold…” his mother called after him but he had already rushed out of the house.

Asif half ran and half staggered to the hospital. He ran past happy families and warm and cozy houses but no one noticed this wretched and destitute child desperately seeking help.

Asif knew that in this frigid and callous world he stood no chance of getting help without money. All he could do now was hope for the best and pray to Allah.

Winter is a season that brings with it much of a change compared to the rest of the year usually occupied by summer. Winter may seem like a season of celebration and festivity to some of us. It may bring us incessant joy and mirth, but do we ever ponder over how much plight and distress it causes to those not well equipped with the essential accessories required to keep them warm?

Poor people living in slums have to suffer from all kinds of difficulties and hardships during winter since they have no proper shelter over their heads and no means for keeping them warm. For them, winter brings along with it a host of problems making their lives even more difficult. It is very depressing to imagine the ruthless pain these people have to endure. By the grace of Allah most of us do not suffer such conditions as we have cozy beds with blankets to snuggle into. But does it ever occur to us that as we sit all cozy and snug around the heater sipping a hot cup of coffee, other poor families might be shivering out there in the cold. Do we ever pay heed to what we have done to help them? It is a pity that neither the government nor the citizens have done anything to help these destitute people. The poor people continue to freeze out in the cold and nobody in this frigid world helps them. Isn’t this world everybody’s home? And don’t all of us have the right to live comfortably in here? So, let us all make a vow today that tomorrow we will help make a difference.

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