Small villages, big families

Shabir Ahmed June 22, 2010

While passing by the Public College, Gilgit, the other day, I was stunned to hear two boys of about 10 to 12 years of age discussing the growing trend of suicides in Karachi.

I might not have been surprised if I had overheard this conversation in Karachi or Islamabad. But that it was happening in this oft-neglected and far flung corner of the world called Gilgit, was shocking. Indeed, the media has revolutionised our society.

I paused for a while to listen to what the boys were saying.

“Ye sub kuch gurbat ki waja say howa hay. Becharay garib log or kia karain,” said one. (This is happening because of poverty. What else can poor people do?) “Suna hay Karachi bohot bara shehr hay. Kia koi nahe tha jo un ki madad karta?” said the other. (Karachi is said to be a very big city. Didn’t anybody turn up for their help?)

I felt shaken as the scenes of men and women committing suicide flashed before my eyes. I started comparing the society I live in with Karachi’s and drew a conclusion: Karachi had everything which Gilgit didn’t, but what Gilgit had perhaps Karachi can never have again – a strong family system.

As I walked on, the phrase “Karachi bohot bara shehr hay” dragged me into my past when I had spent some good time in Karachi in 1994. Indeed Karachi was a ‘big’ city and it looked even bigger when people like me moved there for the first time from small valleys. The crowded markets, the towering plazas, the swelling traffic, and much more… But what was missing was the element of interdependence. The rapid urbanisation has torn apart the fabric of the society. In Karachi, one is oblivious of his or her next door neighbor, let alone help them in need.

Living with big families in small villages is not a bad idea compared with living in big cities with small families.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2010.

Shabir Ahmed A reporter for The Express Tribune.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Tanveer Ahmed | 12 years ago | Reply Media has played a very positive role in the past couple of years. Now we can proudly say that our common man is no more unaware of what is happening around. Well talking about hunger and poverty, there may be many aspects. 1.I should not say but suicide owing to poverty may not be the excuse as Allah has promised to provide food, the very basic need of a human being, to everybody. 2.Talking of Government, obviously its their responsibility to look after each every citizen. 3.Forgotten basic Islamic teachings by our Muslim brothers and sisters. Can’t we remember what our beloved
Mujahid | 12 years ago | Reply Dear Sahhabbir Mir, Wonderful depiction of family role in the human life.You are absulutely right that anomie and alienation is the soul eater of human being.Although poverty is one reason that people commit suicide in such situations of failing a solitory resilience to the social problems but even the filthy societies like Europe faces adeep problrm of suicide due to loneliness and emotional gap in the life due to lack of family affection.As we hear examples of Finnland and Denmark who are the richest societies of the world but with the highest suicide rate. In this series of suicidal trends in societies,may I dare saying that the suicide incidents of women in some parts of Gilgit Baltistan has also a strong reason of insecurity of women due to lossing their family values in the name of modernity and so called education,though education should give awareness to the women folk but unfortunately in our society education means rejectiing old traditions and adopting so called new,in cultural and social terms,which creates frustration in them when they donoy come up with the modern materialistc social status concept,rather a traditional way of simplicity and identity after their families.Due to such new trend in the society n both men and women go into a world of social apathy and emotional hollowness leading to suicidal trends as you mentioned in Karachi as well as we are facing in some semi urban and even rural parts of Gilgit Baltistan,ehere families and traditions are fast vanishing with modernity and materialistic way of life.We need family values,social identity of individuals not gaging according to their personal success or failure but as apart of a family and a community.
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