A few years ago, after picking up a meal from my favorite restaurant in Karachi, I walked out into the dusty street to find my path obstructed by a short, five-year-old girl who looked like she had never taken a shower in her life. I stepped back. I walked around her towards our car, and the girl followed me, begging for alms. She tried to come in front of me with the futile hope that her continued presence would get her money. Suddenly, she caught sight of a bag of food in my mother's hand. She gravitated towards my mom. Glad that the beggar had moved out of my way, I opened the door of our car. I saw my mother hand the child the bag of food. My mother handed the girl my food! I turned and looked at my mother as though she had betrayed me. Unfazed, my mother sat in the car. I started to complain about the loss of my food when I caught sight of the beggar once more. Sitting near some trash, under the shade of a palm tree, she took out my burger and shared it with some other children. I saw a row of kids sitting down and savoring my burger. Watching them, I too began to feel happy. Only then did I understand that this shared contentment was what I had been after all along.
A cheeseburger with a side of fries
January 16, 2012