Scavengers

Recently, while having lunch at this beautiful place in Karachi, Port Grand, I was met with a strange yet moving sight. In front of us, on the water, was a young boy, scrawny and in tattered clothing, floating on (or rather rowing) a sack full of garbage. He was scavenging for trash being thrown from the bridge above the water. I saw him move around, empty garbage bags into the sea, examine its contents and then move on once this search proved fruitless. And in seconds, he dirtied the already murky waters. I did not know whether to be angry or sad. Here was this young boy, floating around on his makeshift raft, looking for means to make it through the day. Here was a polluter making a mess of our already nasty and dirty water bodies of Karachi. But then here was I, whining about being unable to finish the Grilled chicken with the complimentary sautéed vegetables and creme brûlée because i was too ‘full.’ What a contrast huh?

But all I thought at that point was, how can he be so crude and selfish as to carelessly dirty our beautiful rivers? I ignored the pedestrians on the bridge above who looked left and right, then looked down and casually tossed their garbage into the river, sauntering off as if their action did not just lend to global warming. I ignored my own ignorance at the plight of a young man, eagerly searching for scraps in order to get by. Selfish much? I think so.

I chastised myself for being uncaring. I felt bad. I felt guilty at being privileged. But then I forgot. And as I think back today, maybe that is where I go wrong. I forget. I forget the blessings bestowed on us. I focus so long and hard at how not juicy the chicken is, I forget the meal itself is a blessing. I focus so long on the brûlée  being too well done that I forget dessert is a privilege many will never see in a lifetime. It is time for a little bit of a self-slapping session. It is time for a bit of gratefulness. It is time to be a bit conscious,

It is time to realize that as the vagabond floats on the dirty river, we float on the air of apathy. And that is very, very, very wrong.

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