Asking For The Moon

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By Shama Mir 

As a child I remember sitting and watching my parents playing scrabble. The winner didn’t matter much to me, but the loser always seemed to awaken my loyalty and faith. The similar situation would arise in the game of carom. The friendly teasing somehow always built up my courage to side with the defender or evident loser. I knew that my vote did not have the power to turn tables but would at least prove comforting and create an air of solidarity in loss.

In school and college, I would hold faith in the most utterly hopeless situations and believed that if I could envision a victory, despite all odds, there was a possibility that it could come through. The Cricket World Cup Semi-Final in 1992 and many such tournaments where the verdict was almost in, the heart kept on believing in the inevitable to happen. The Miandad sixer at the Sharjah Stadium had all of us in frenzy for a really long time. The true believers were always in a minority whilst the majority were always run by facts and figures and what the score board read.

The same pattern of thought continued when I started teaching. Of all the children in my class, the one with a lack of faith, poor self-esteem or a turbulent childhood always came to become my area of focus and attention. It was a challenge to bring about some change in the relatively accepted situation. I found it hard to accept facts and set arguments on the reality of the situation. It was a gruelling process to encounter some truths and make others aware of certain possibilities.

Today, when I am driving the car with my husband and sons, there is typical teasing about women and their driving skills! And even though I understand their unintentional mocking, it’s infuriating to be a target or a joke. That’s when I really miss having a daughter to stand up to their nonsensical logic with me.

About two years ago, my children were watching a cricket match between Australia and Pakistan. We were in Lahore and the room was filled with adults and children. My younger son was just 5. He stood up and said, “I hope Australia wins!” My dear child did not realize that sitting in Pakistan and hoping for the Australians to win would instigate the entire room! The children started with their cruel comments, “You are from Pakistan or Australia?”, “Pakistan will destroy your team!” His grandfather asked him, “Why do you want Australia to win?” He answered very calmly, “Because they have better players!” I was informed by my father-in-law that he had stood up to his statement and had fought all the people in the room challenging their faith with logic and reason. Australia won the match and while everyone sat down to blame the Pakistani players for their poor performance, he enjoyed the victory that according to him was well deserved!

People are run by their loyalties and beliefs. Some are inherited while some come through interaction with life. The fiercely emotional, fight for them and some desire to spread them beyond their horizons. They are shaken when met with a conflicting view. They then resort to numbers. A majority wins them the battle, but in case of being a minority, it corners them to either join the bigger number or stop propagating their views. My doubts have always emerged from the understanding that my thoughts or beliefs are only limited to my horizon or exposure to life. Does that mean that there is no other belief or life beyond my familiar surroundings? Does that give me the right to reject or ridicule any differences I might encounter? Faith, views and beliefs need space and accommodation.

The most difficult task in all of the above situations is really being a ‘minority’. When everybody is rejoicing in the name of the apparent winner, the most familiar name or the most convenient path to follow, you stand up to speak your mind. There is immediate reaction which ridicules your blind faith, idealistic mind and foolish heart.

In every generation, we have a teacher who speaks of wisdom that comes through following the truth. The truth hear by is met with the forces of good and evil who divide the human race into majority and minority. As much as I would like to believe the truth to lie in a majority, it might not be the desired answer to my question. Many times, a minority of thought may hold the answers to the much sought after solutions to our existence.

Today, we see activists fighting for the rights of minorities around the globe. Racial and ethnic, gender, age and religious discrimination is common. We watch the news and wonder how these small numbers are going to be able to bring about a change.

I, for one, always cast my vote with the task labelled as “unachievable”. Even if my oath does not hold the power to turn tables, I would like to raise my voice in solidarity with those, “Asking for the moon!”

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