September 23, 2010

This is not the first time that I've been accused of being cold, callous and unnaturally flippant about other people's misery. My humor, which is admittedly dark, has been declared to be indicative of a want of compassion. I submit to these allegations with perfect equanimity. The truth is, I know I'm flippant. I was, after all, the person who had a long public debate with J on whose terrorists were better: hers or mine. And I still maintain and even though her guys (the Tamil tigers, darlings) may have invented the suicide jacket, our guys (the Taliban, don't-you-know) perfected the use of it, and so we win. The point is: I have it in me to laugh at misery, both my own and of those around me. It may be a cynical, deprecating kind of laughter, but you're absolutely right, laughter it is. However, as much as I feel for your sensibilities, I don't think I can bring myself to apologize for my temperament. And certainly not to you.

Tell me something, oh-worthy-person, when was the last time you stopped at a traffic light to be besieged with beggars intent on scratching whatever surface of your car they can get their hands on? When was the last time you gave out a well-intentioned handout only to see it frittered away on drugs and other social nuisances? Have you ever sat face to face with the poor, looked into their eyes and come to a slow-numbing realization that they don't WANT anything else from you aside from your money? That even if you handed out a fortune in this minute they will not change anything about their life-style? Have you ever borne the burdensome guilt of being born privileged in a society steeped in penury? Have you ever realized that as much as you may want to you 'cannot' trust the people around you? Have you ever smiled at a stranger on the street and had it interpreted as an invitation for molestation, or worse, rape? Have you ever opened your home to a stranger only to be held at gunpoint and robbed? Do you ever have a feeling, when you're driving alone in the night, that the motorcycle behind you is going to pull a gun on you? Have you been woken up because of a sharp sound and run to the window to see if it was a bomb blast? Do you still get fazed - and think it out of the ordinary - when you hear volleys of gunshots? Do you still believe that humanity, when left to its own devices, is ultimately good?

I'm sorry you feel like I trivialize important issues. But the truth is, it's different when you're on the outside looking in. When you don't have to answer - or think about - any of these questions, it's very easy to sympathize. When you're living in this strange cauldron of political instability, pervasive violence and all-around distrust a sense of humor which is somewhat dark becomes inherent to survival. In many ways you're lucky - as you meander in and out of the doors of your local Walmart, Starbucks and Trader Joes - that you cannot understand that. But you have no right to sit back on your self-righteous armchair and denigrate our perspective on our life. Yes, we are callous. Yes, we are cold. Yes, we actually have a whole bunch of bomb blasts jokes at our disposal. Yes, we have no real faith in democracy. Yes, we exploit our privilege (some of us more than others). But I defy you to come here, live with what we live, know what we know, and be any different.

Thank you for your opinions on my sense of humor. Strangely enough, I don't find 'them' very funny.


doc said...

right on sista!

Anonymous said...

Maybe this person does not know and/or understand you and your way of dealing with the unique situation in Pakistan. I so wish that foreigners could come and meet with the Pakistanis (who come in all shapes and colors) and live the life they live.. Firsthand experience is such an eye-opener.

P.S. All the best for your assignment at work. Hope it went well :)


Alpha Za said...

damn, that poor girl is going to feel soooo bitch slapped.

Well said btw.

dud said...

i salute u! very very very well said! :)))