Happiness is just a frame of mind: A fake eye and a haunting past
I was around five-years-old when my father sold me to my husband; he was 40 at the time and routinely raped me.
So what’s the biggest problem in your life? An exam you failed? The fact that your parents spoil your little sister more than they spoil you? Is it the new lawn prints you can’t afford?
How unfair life is, right?
I thought the same until my maid told me her story.
I was lying in the lounge, depressed as ever. How could God be so unfair? I moaned and I complained. A dumb friend of mine had received an acceptance letter from a university abroad because he could afford it; I couldn’t.
I was still in the worst of all moods when my maid Fatimah brought me a cup of tea and sat down on the floor beside the sofa. She asked me in Sindhi,
“Chah ayein, bacho?”
(What happened, kid?)
I told her the story and she started laughing loudly, as always. Her habit of laughing loud at everything just angered me so much more. She kept her hand on my head and told me that God will make everything okay in due time.
I didn’t want to hear another word, so I buried my face in the cushion.
“Stop crying, beta”, she laughed again.
“This is nothing. You still go to a good school, I know. Your baba loves you. Mine didn’t.”
She laughed loudly again.
“I was around five-years-old when he sold me to my husband. You know how old he was?” she asked, her voice rising. “He must have been 40 at the time.”
“Why?” I quickly asked.
“Money, bacho, money.”
“And then what happened? I asked.
“Then, bacho, the same. He was married already and had four children. The youngest one was six years older than me. He used to physically abuse me. I realised it at a late stage.”
She laughed again. Unable to understand if she was in a stable state of mind, I patted her back asking if she was well.
“I am fine, bacho. I used to clean the entire house and take care of all the family members, you know. Still, I received constant beatings on petty issues,” she told me, smiling.
I pointed at her fake eye which my mother had paid for last week. I asked her how she lost her eye.
“Bacho, one day I was very ill. I was pregnant with my third child when I had a lot of pain in my eye. I asked my husband to take me to the doctor but he constantly refused. It lasted for 20 days and then one night my eye started bleeding and the eye ball fell out. I lost my baby too after a few days then. The doctor in the village told me I was about to die, but then my brother finally came to my rescue and brought the kids and myself to Karachi. Here the doctors saved me. Farishtay (angels) they were, I tell you.”
“You have a daughter and a son? What about your brother? Why do you live with us then?” surprised, I questioned her.
"He threw me out after we came to Karachi. He said he couldn’t afford to keep us three together. It’s been five years now, I haven’t seen my brother. My daughter and son are working in a house three streets from here. Very good people, I tell you. They send my children to school and in return, my children do all the house chores for them. The only thing is the lady only lets me meet my children once in two months. Zeenat is ten and Rizqullah is six.” she told me, the smile still affixed on her face.
Wiping my tears, I asked her “Fatima, how can you live alone?”
In one sentence she gave me all answers.
“Munjhay pas Allah ahay bacho”
(I have God with me, kid.)
And then she laughed again, loudly.
That night I realised how stupid I was, how stupid we are, to cry about our petty issues. We get depressed over the smallest discomforts that life brings to us, but we don’t value what we have. Instead, we get worked up over things that just don't matter.
Kant rightly said “We are not rich by what we possess but by what we can do without.”
So laugh through all your tribulations and know that it could be worse. Cherish what you have because there are many out there who can’t afford the happiness that you take for granted.
Follow Ramsha on Twitter @RamshaKohati