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Ponderings in a rickshaw

One should avoid going on rickshaw rides at night in Karachi, not because the chances of getting mugged highly increase at night but because you get to experience a whirlwind of emotions, emotions no one ever dares to feel. It can be beautiful at times, noticing tiny details that don’t appear during the hustle and bustle of the day, allowing your face to dominated by the cold wind.

But if you’re like me, your eyes would consistently try to find flaws in everything. Just last night, I was coming back from my tuition, in a rickshaw with my mom. Karachi stays true to its title, “City of Lights”, even on the most bleakest nights, so there were lights illuminating every nook and cranny of the roads.

We stopped by a departmental store to buy something, of course. I was in the rickshaw waiting for my mom, when i felt someone tugging at my trousers. I looked down and saw a little girl, asking for money. I immediately looked away as I had no loose change with me at that time. After a few minutes, the girl silently went away, with no sign of dejection or remorse. My eyes couldn’t avoid following her, she went to her mother who was sitting cross legged on a pavement, cheap plastic toys surrounding her.

And then I saw, who must be her younger sister, hobbling behind her. Suddenly, my young niece’s image flashed before my eyes. She looked exactly like her, but their worlds were miles apart. She hobbled like a penguin in the exact manner my niece did, only she didn’t steal anyone’s smiles and adoration. She hugged her mother, and pleaded to be picked up and swaddled, just like my niece did, only her mother shoved her away. With this rejection, she thrashed her feet on the ground but no one picked her up and consoled her. Strangers rushed past her, not even noticing her. I imagined my niece, dressed in loose rags, malnourished, cast aside with no one to care for her.

I cried the way home. I felt so ungrateful and insolent all of a sudden. Sometimes. I think, these beggars and homeless people only exist as a warning for other people. God created them to capture us and bring us back to earth when we’re growing so self-absorbed.

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