Khila naheen sakte tau paida kyoon karte ho……? (Must you bring a life into this world when you are unable to feed?) I am still wondering who this question is directed to.
This recklessly forceful reverberation is from the blockbuster conceived and brought to the silver screen by the indubitably intrepid Shoaib Mansoor. Hats off to this vanguard for bringing to the world attention a decidedly sensitive and germane issue with a level of honesty that even the most dauntless would think twice to take credits for.
No, I have no intention to desecrate this space by churning out a movie review. Besides, I have yet to watch this controversy-stirring flick.
For discerning Pakistanis and others who are sensitive enough, the echo that this write-up opens with, hits perfect notes in the backdrop of sharply depleting resources of the country we call the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
As a student of economics I had learnt that air and water were free goods. But as we know that good times tick away with fleeting pace. It was as if somebody hit a fast-forward button and brought us to the present day where even a glass of clean potable water now comes with a jeering price tag on it. And what is even more shocking is the fact that the onus of the current state of affairs falls squarely on us.
I asked a colleague in office ‘Why do we have children?’ followed by ‘What number is a must to have?’ He confidently replied, “We have kids because they are a source of real joy and satisfaction. We should have at least three-four children so that they can support each other especially when they grow up.”
My next question was: “Can we provide three-four children with up-to-the-standard education and all other things deemed necessary in today’s world where individuals are generally seen through a lens coated with materialistic tint?”
He replied and this is the same answer that majority of people would come up with: ‘You don’t have to worry too much about it ………kyon ke bachay tau pal hi jatey hain !!!….. palnay wala tau woh (Allah) hai (children get brought up somehow or the other …. Allah looks after us all)’.
The above replies, having numerous aspects, can generate a huge debate, but I would confine it to the last one – Bachay tau pal hi jatay hain …. Palnay wala tau woh (Allah) hai. These are not just words, they represent a highly disturbing mindset or rather a trend that our society has been following for generations with criminal complacency, with no questions asked. Bachay tau pal hi jatay hain. Are we talking about kittens, puppies or chicks. Not at all. Bachay means the most innocent human beings, the veritable angels. So, could there be a more cruel utterance than this: It is not your job to think how your children will grow up; this responsibility lies with the nature. Your job is to give birth and then leave everything up to the Almighty.
Believe it or not, this approach is, to a larger extent, responsible for the state of desperation and despondency that our nation today finds itself deeply plunged into.
Normally, we find ourselves constantly planning to maintain a balance between resources available at our disposal and our needs ordered in a carefully prioritized list. How all of us, invariably, put things to paper every month or go over a list in our mind a dozen times to ensure we don’t run into a deficit; or prepare months or weeks before exams or interviews; or plan on the pettiest thing, such as, reaching the office the following day on time.
But most unfortunately when it comes to having children, the overwhelming majority of our “faithful” population defies all forms of logic and leaves it all up to the divine powers.
Ours is a very basic economic problem that is getting worse by every passing day – ‘Too many people chasing too few goods.’ In order to grasp the gravity of the issue at hand we should take Pakistan not as a country but as a resource-strapped home to 180 million people. A home where the number of members is rising every minute while its income is almost stagnant.
This is a race between a turtle (income) and rabbit (rate of population). It represents a yawning gap but what is more disconcerting is the fact that it is only widening with time.
However, I am firm in my conviction that it is still not too late to turn things around. But this would entail a paradigm shift in the way we think and in the manner we deal with the matter to which the parents should ideally attach highest level of significance. Can there be any other consideration that merits greater importance for parents than planning a family?
The argument here is certainly not about having more or less number of children. The question really is: Can we do justice to the highly arduous job of bringing up kids? The parents must ask themselves if they are resourceful enough to fulfill all the legitimate needs and wishes of their yet to be conceived child. And if the answer is yes, then there is no reason why they should not go ahead with it. But in case the answer is negative, then………………………………..You bet!!!
Mazhar Bughio can be followed on Twitter @mazharbughio