Yet another day dawns in this perpetual journey of life floating and roaring, while things around me seem to be falling, crumbling and giving way to endless sufferings. As Marquis de Sade, the French novelist, puts it: “Hope is the most sensitive part of a poor wretch's soul; whoever raises it only to torment him is behaving like the executioners in hell who, they say, incessantly renew old wounds and concentrate their attention on that area of it that is already lacerated.” Hope for our already wretched souls is a distant fading reality.

Bowing my head, praying to God, the most beneficent and the merciful, I drive past endless streams of impoverished beggars soliciting for alms for a meagre meal; in the name of God. As I walk past them they trail me, holding me down with entreating eyes and dirty hands, holding my shirtsleeves begging for a few rupees to spare. Looking through the window of my office, I see their eyes staring at me making me feel guilty for stuffing myself with earthly earnings, while they and their children are out on the streets, begging for scarps to live on so they could survive for yet another day. I break down. Being sensitive begins to look like a curse.

Inside the office, there exists another world. Well furnished, centrally air-conditioned and spotless environment creates a mesmerising effect on the staff that moves swiftly from one floor to another, chatting, laughing and enjoying what life has to offer. A total disconnect from the reality existing outside. Here exists a “corporate culture” infested with deeply-rooted inferiority complexes being displayed with all its monetary vulgarities. Image creation is the topmost priceless priority. So we go for “branding”, which goes down to the level of dressing up cosmetically the peon’s in an outfit that hides, what many think, as their “filthiness”; children of a lesser God.

The journey back home leads me to a cobbler sitting on the roadside mending some shoes. He looks at me smilingly and says: “I feel sorry for you.” I ask: “why?” He tells me that he is the owner of his simple work and guides his own destiny. Opens up his business at will and closes it down whenever he wants to. “I am independent and free,” he says. Looking into my eyes, he tells me my misery of working like a clock, synchronously every day, while following the dictates of my higher authority. Pathetic, isn’t it? I walk away in silence.

Late night party leads me to another dimension of existence. The extravagance displayed is simply mind-blowing. Women clad in the provocative outfits flirt around, while the waiters ensure the “liquidity” of the glasses served till midnight when passions grow high and walking becomes a struggle against the brain that is living in another state of delusion. Countrymen, this is the real face of a country living in perpetual beggary and compliant slavery.

The “mad man” drives back home after midnight, on way stopping at the traffic lights, while the knocking on the car window feels like hammers blowing into the very depth of one’s existence. He looks towards the beggar, looking back at the place that he left a few minutes ago, wondering about the men, who were showing their wealth but, in fact, were just like this beggar living in poverty. Both looking for alms; the rich ones for my envy and the poor for the alms of my quilt. Can we look away? Can we ignore? As Faiz Ahmad Faiz poetically puts it:

“Countless centuries of dark, dreadful, mystical

Woven in silk, satin, brocade

Everywhere in the street

and market bodies are

being sold Draggled in dust,

in blood stained

Retrieved bodies, seems to be from oven of diseases

Flowing puss from

decaying ulcers

I can’t help taking second

look, but I’m helpless

Your beauty still captures

me, but I’m helpless

There are other pains in this world apart from love,

As there are other comforts than comforts of delight.”

Ending my day, as I bow my head on the prayer mat, I ponder upon the fairness of God and his created world with a mix of all its glamour and miseries. As I, the mad man, lie on my bed, the deafening silence penetrates my inner being, shattering and fragmenting the soul with tiny pieces of flesh piercing my body leaving behind stained emptiness within me.

The writer is a PhD in Information Technology, alumni of King’s College London and a social activist. He is life member of the Pakistan Engineering Council and senior international editor for IT Insight Magazine.He has authored two books titled Understanding Telecommunications and Living In The Grave and several research papers.  Email:   Twitter: @drirfanzafar