As I glided through today’s newspaper, a section caught my attention and urged me to read it completely… And believe me you, it was really distressing.
It was about Madaya, a small mountainous town in Syria where up to 40,000 people are living on leaves and flower petals to stay alive, after having eaten all of town’s stray dogs and cats. It has resulted as an outcome of a six months long siege that the Syrian government has imposed on the town. The city has been cut off from fresh supplies of food and drink and the government could not uglify the situation more by laying landmines in the surrounding countryside preventing the residents to escape anywhere.
Many men, women and children have already died of starvation; some are still fighting the combat. As the Syrian winters are settling in, electricity and food sources have reduced from small to non-existent supply. As per a local resident, there are no more dogs or cats alive in the town and even the tress they have been living on, have become scarce. The situation is so alarming that the starving residents try not to move an inch from their place to conserve as much energy as they can. With dripping temperatures, the locals have been forced to burn plastics to keep warm, exposing themselves to life threatening fumes.
With a total of 40000 inhabitants, people are consuming the remaining animals, plants, flowers, leaves and grass. Although the adults are somehow enduring this calamity; many children and elderly are dying on a daily basis. The price of the staple food rice has risen to as much as $250/kg, far beyond the reach of even the wealthiest residents in Madaya.
How inhuman is this and who deserves a life like that?
This news brought out the attitude of gratitude in me to feel all that I have been blessed with. There is a part of the world where people are living on leaves, a mere thought of which shakes me completely. And there are plenty among us who waste chunks of food without a second thought. Not that the food we save will reach them, but the very thought of respecting the blessings we have been bestowed with makes a difference. And ironically, it’s us, who are still running in a never ending race to achieve what – A bigger flat, a more lavish car or a superior lifestyle? I just realized there is so much more to worry about. If we hadn’t had the basics, who on earth would have compelled us to fight for the luxuries? How often do we feel gratified when we wake up in the morning, next to our loves one with our health and body in sound reunion. Are we not lucky to have choices in our menu for breakfast? Don’t you think spending several thousand in a fancy restaurant on a single meal is sheer superfluity? What we have started defining as necessity is a luxury for many. Take out a moment to envisage that you are in Madaya right now, holding in your hands the same portion of food you left in your plate today, for either it didn’t taste well or you were too full to finish it. Will it be any less than the happiness we derive from buying diamonds or lavish apartments, for the one who has been living on tree leaves and flowers for days?
Having said this, I don’t want to be misunderstood at all. Being ambitious and being grateful are two sides of a coin. Talking about myself, yes, there are days when I do demand materialistic things. In all honesty, there are also days when I only think of belongings I don’t possess. The fact is that in this daily scuffle to maintain a certain standard of living, I tend to overlook the basics that my Lord has consecrated for me. So, in succinct, my prayers will now be more centric towards the simplicities of life like regular supply of meals, good health of the family, a shelter to live in, and a non-violent environment. I am sure these weigh far more than what we keep striving for. It also appalls me to think where is mankind heading to and where will all this end?
Will this ever conclude? If yes, then how?
Am I doing anything about it? No.
Can I do anything about it? Maybe.
How? I am not sure.
There is still so much to be figured out to make this life more meaningful.
And these thoughts are now interrupted by the routine calls as I look outside the window. The setting sun reminds me to get back to my duties and welcome the night with full enthusiasm. Another day is about to end, another morning will soon ascend. There is so much to thank life for, so much to look for. With thoughts this heavy, I finally sign off.