After taking a refreshing shower I stood in the air-conditioned environment of my room, looking into the full length mirror & admiring the newly bought dress donning my body. The white lawn kameez matched with white trousers was perfect for the typical hot and humid Karachi
summer. With the curtains drawn I had made certain no sign of the scorching sun got inside my room to remind me of the sweltering heat outside. Sunscreen, shades, cap, deodorant, I tossed everything inside my bag triple checking to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. It is not easy getting out in the sun. Forgetting a single thing can make one darker, smellier and unbearable.
Finally tying my hair into the highest ponytail possible and popping my feet into soft comfortable flats, I ran downstairs. The TV was turned on in the lounge and I could hear the weather forecast. Today was to be a really hot and sunny day with an estimated temperature of forty-five degrees whereas the temperature recorded yesterday was a degree or two lower, which meant the summer heat showed no signs of abating.
Sighing, I reluctantly stepped out of the moderate atmosphere of my house into the boiling surroundings outside and immediately ran back inside as I had forgotten my very prized possession My water flask. As I took out my flask filled with iced water I envied the items resting in the refrigerator wishing I could somehow become a tub of ice cream & spend my day in there.
At last, armed with my proper summer gear, I finally stepped outside. My car had developed some internal problem a few days ago and was at the mechanic’s, which meant I had to take the roller coaster aka the public bus. Luckily the bus stop is not very far from my home. In less than five minutes I was standing there with no sign of a bus for miles.
For the first few minutes the recently taken shower and the lately applied deodorant helped to ease the effect of forty five centigrade but as the minutes ticked away I gradually started to feel the burning ground below me and the flaming sky above. At last, all barriers broke and I flinched as the first drop of sweat finally slid down my spine.
The sunshine was falling directly over my cap and I could feel the small space of my hair inside the cap getting wet. My special summer clothes were also starting to cling to me when finally I spotted the glowing front of a multi colored bus coming towards me. Thanks to my sunglasses I was shielded from all the sunrays its shining front was reflecting.
The bus slowed down as the driver noticed me but it never came to a complete stop and half stumbling, half wobbling I climbed into the crammed foul smelling interior of the bus cursing all anti perspirant companies for insufficient advertising. The half an hour bus ride reeking with fetid smells, crammed with continuously perspiring dehydrating people including myself is nothing to talk about. The occasional yells of “Thanda Thanda Pani” by the singer the driver was playing didn’t help either. At last shouting at the driver over the blaring music to stop the bus, pushing and shoving the sweaty mass of people, I descended. One look at the glassy exterior of my office building and all my previous tensions melted away because I knew inside, an air-conditioned office with a host of deodorant using people was awaiting me. But as I turned to cross the road an eye opening scene stopped me.
The road adjacent to my office was being excavated and the entire traffic was unsuccessfully trying to pass through whatever space was available. What caught my eye was that there were a dozen or so workers on the site shoveling through the earth. Drenched with sweat, soaked with perspiration they labored mechanically, their hands moving up and down in quick successive movements. Most of them were dressed in vests and a few wore turbans. The rest were simply working without any thing covering their heads. It is really hard to imagine how they could still work in this temperature. I looked around and found there was no shade nearby. This was the class of people who could not afford sunscreens or sunglasses. A car passed by. I heard the same weather forecast. The temperature was Forty-five and increasing yet there they were, oblivious to the scorching sun, the roasting temperature, all toiling to put food on the table. And here I was, in my exclusive summer wear, cap covered, sunglasses protected, ready to go inside a twenty-centigrade office but still complaining about the hot weather. Standing there that day, I realized there was so much I took for granted.
That evening when I went home the first thing I did was to draw back the curtains of my bedroom. I had finally realized that the view outside was not there to remind me of the sweltering heat outside but to let me know that I had so much to thank God for. A thing we all usually forget to do.