Civilized! Are we?

Life would have been altogether different if she was born in a wealthy family, this charming face would have turned many heads here if she had been aware of her possibilities.

Arriving at the wedding hall early I got ample time to scrutinize the young and old ladies exhibiting ostentatiously the heavily embellished and exuberant dresses they had worn that evening. I was shockingly inspired by the latest fashion trends and at the same time mocked at my own ignorance on the subject. It was an old friend’s wedding and I hardly knew anybody in the hall other than the bride and some of her immediate family members.

Sitting quietly in a corner holding a baby in her lap, I observed a young girl around the age of ten to twelve. Wearing an oversized lawn Jora with a dupatta wrapped tightly around, I beckoned her to be a housemaid who had come here with her house lady. The girl was rocking the crying baby as the mother of that child supposedly the house lady, sitting at the nearby table was busy gossiping endlessly with the other ladies. The girl looked uneasy as the baby simply refused to calm down despite her efforts to lull sometimes by rocking hard or by inserting bottle feed into his mouth.

After a while, the food was served on all the tables.  Everyone became engrossed in the activity of filing up their plates and enjoying the scrumptious dishes the hosts had to offer. The young girl kept sitting the way she was, looking temptingly at the plates of people sitting and roaming around chattering and laughing while holding their plates with a hefty amount of delectable food items. No one offered her a plate or anything to eat as this was the occasion meant only to be relished by the dignified and civilized people invited to the wedding.

The evening went on smoothly, everything was nicely arranged, the wedding hall was splendidly decorated in contrast with the color theme of the evening, lights arrangement was spectacular giving an aura of a royal wedding, the delicately ornamented lehnga of the bride and the imperial silk brocade sherwani of the groom both complimented each other in a perfect manner. The evening proved to be the perfect manifestation of extravagance and a display of perfection in all its forms. The rich and respectable people of the city were invited to the wedding, each trying to purvey and comply with the other.

On returning home something really took me down. I simply failed to understand the contradiction in our actions and our verbal claims. I failed to figure out are we really civilized and cultured the way we entitle ourselves to be.  Or by spending and displaying our wealth to the world we win the title of respect and civility. Where have gone our values and teachings of humanity? Aren’t we as Muslims and above all as humans supposed to be kind and generous towards the people who are less provided than us? Aren’t we ordered by ALLAH and his Prophet (PBUH) to be kind and merciful to our servants? Aren’t we instructed and exemplified by our Prophet (PBUH) to be kind and loving towards children?

There are thousands of young girls like Tayyaba, Saima or that girl at the wedding, working as housemaids who are the victim of excessive work, torture, and physical abuse. This is the failure of our society where we have failed to secure our children. When they should be studying in schools, they are cleaning, washing and looking after other’s kids to earn money for their family back home. This needs to stop now, the ruthless and barbaric acts of all those people must be brought to justice. Keeping a girl child as housemaid should be equally unacceptable as mistreating them. Child labor in our country is on the rise because of poverty and lack of education. We as a society need to stand up and say no to child labor or else cases like Tayyaba and Saima will keep furnishing our headlines ever.

Haroona Abdullah

Haroona Abdullah is a stay at home wife. She has post graduate degree in Defence and Diplomatic Studies plus a diploma in mass communication. She has a passion for writing. She is married for eleven years now and she loves sharing her experiences and home improvement ideas.


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