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A Human Like You

“I wonder what is for lunch today?”, thought Sana as she walked back home from work.

It was a particularly hot day today, the summer sun scorching the skies and lands alike. The heat was merciless in its glare. There were few from the living within sight. Even animals seemed scurried off into shelters to escape the heat wave. Sana could feel drops of sweat trailing her body, her clothes growing wetter with every step. Her feet could feel the heat from the ground burning through the soles of her sandals. Grains of sand gritted between her fingers. ‘She should soon invest in closed shoes.’, Sana reminded herself for the umpteenth time.

Her stomach churned with hunger and her mouth watered as her mind drew up images of delicious meals. A small smile graced Sana’s face as she dwelled on her musings; feasting on all the delicacies her mind could conjure. Daydreaming was a good way to kill time on the way back, Sana had realized a long time ago. The long-enduring walks seemed less so when her mind was busy gathering wool. It also helped her ignore the scandalizing glares, any unaccompanied woman was chronic to.

Sana was donned in the typical dress for women in Pakistan; the shalwar qameez.  Hers was a blue colored shalwar with a floral print qameez which Sana had decided to contrast with a mustard colored dupatta for the day. She had a particular fancy for floral prints. Her mother would often comment on how that’s all she could find in her closet. In jewelry, Sana relished in the feel of bangles as they clicked and clanked on her wrists. Rarely if ever, were her hands seen not decorated in those. Within bangles too, she had an affiliation for yellow glass bangles. Reminded her of her tenth birthday gift from her grandfather. His last gift to her. A lasting memory of a loved one. In a shoebox hidden under her mattress, with other precious belongings, Sana kept safe from the world, rested a few yellow bangles, wide enough to fit a girl no older than ten.

Her bangles clicked as she walked on. Sleep pricked her eyes, her eyelids drooping. Fatigued weighed heavy on her shoulders. Heavier were the bags she carried with herself. Work tired her, especially during the summer. It was the long journey to and from work that wore her off the most. She reached home just as the sun set into the horizon and stars blinked in the sky. Back home, she was welcomed to the cheers and hugs of her siblings as they eagerly awaited her arrival at the doorstep. Their toothed smiles would soon drain all fatigue from her body, as she would greet each of the five little ones. Her parents were aged, her mom reduced to limps while her father is completely bed-ridden. It was as their eldest did Sana feel it to be her responsibility to take care of her parents when they no longer could. Her father for as long as she could remember had toiledShe hoped and aspired to provide better for them and in this pursuit, she worked tirelessly. Upon entering the household, she would carefully give each of her bags to the elder ones amongst her little siblings while she went away to freshen up. Soon the family would gather near their father’s bed for dinner. Laughers shared, storied unfolded and tales weaved, as the family came together for a happy meal.

 

Sana’s story seems little out of the ordinary. Many like you and me move like clockwork through similar days. We struggle in jobs we don’t like. We aspire for a better future for ourselves and our families. We cherish little nothings we keep hidden in our closets. We carry certain fancies in our hearts. We belong to families and loved ones…

But one thing does set Sana apart from all of us reading this piece is the lack of opportunities and rights. You see Sana is not like you and me. Sana is a resident of the Thar district. A region inflicted with its sixth drought in the past 30 years. A region and its ——– inhabitants shunned into negligence by both the Government of Pakistan and its population. Consequently, girls like Sana lead much more deprived lives.

 

*Sana’s bags refers to the mud pots, women in the Tharparkar region carry these pots for as much as 4/5 Km, with each pot weighing as much as ——

 

By: Maha Hameed Khan

 

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