This is a story of a girl named Zainab and through this story, I want her to be remembered because no one else would keep her memory otherwise.
I am sorry that your story shall be remembered only after your death, I wish I was able to do anything more than writing about it.
As the story goes, she breathed in a poor family. Life had already figured out the difficult track for her even before she decided one for herself, something that makes you question the realities of life, of how long can we go in our choices in deciding about our life? Or just when we get to think that we are about to decide something, life leaves us alone in the hands of death.
I remember the day I visited her in the hospital. It was just another day in October. Something about October afternoons makes it very gloomy. The effect was added by shutter down shops and a shutdown city because of Muharram holidays, the city, in general, was a picture of some war trodden premises. The initial impact of the building was somewhat a relief for it had a better building in comparison to everything around.
We were received by her brother at the entrance of the hospital. The initial impact soon blurred as we entered the hospital, the inside of the building was another story all in all as if we had entered some old, abandoned castle; as if we are shifted from one-time zone of the life outside to another time that is receding. The main entrance was closed and the make-shift entrance door had a counter in the shape of a room with a man sitting in all idleness behind a desk that looked like a piece of the antique collection, few patients were roaming here and there.
The story was so obvious yet some silent corner in my heart prayed it to be not true. But every step I took, it carried me further into a state of hopelessness. There was no hospital staff in sight, no patients in its waiting area and for the first time, I disliked the quietness of the hospital.
The whole building was deserted, rooms empty, and without any equipment. There were beds in few of the rooms but without any bedsheets and unattended half-emptied IV bottles added to the horror of the place. As we entered the hall where Zainab occupied a bed with few other patients. All of them had questions in their eyes and unsung songs of suffering at their lips. We reached her bed, we greeted and prayed for her health and sat down. I was removed from the present state of affairs as long as I was in the hospital, I still can’t forget the expressions on her face; she could almost see her death approaching.
Something that I learned that day, rather a life lesson: the feeling of hopelessness and the feeling of your helplessness when combined are the worst kind of feeling to ever experience in your life. I saw that in Zainab’s eyes, I saw that she knew that there is no way this hospital could save her, I saw that she knew that she can’t afford a better hospital. I saw it all and I felt helpless, because whenever I would talk about doing something about the scenario the same people who were crying for her life would make fun of me. I saw and I silently cried.
It was a government hospital, a project by the last government regime and it started with all the hype and equipment, but as soon as the government changed so did the condition of the hospital. The equipment and machinery from the hospital were taken to another hospital project started by the present government. The staff or members appointed for the hospital never cared enough to visit it very often and handed it all over to few people with poor knowledge and practice of nursing. The elite or professional of the area, well they were mostly busy in running their personal clinics and hospitals, or never cared about what happens to people of slums.
The result? Thousand such unnoticed stories like the one I mentioned above. No one was ready to do anything about it, no hopes from the government or people. There is no reasonable hospital between Rawalpindi and Mianwali area, and people mostly get admitted to such hospitals and wait for their death to arrive or if they finally decide to go to either city after paying high rents for the conveyance, mostly they go back home with a dead body and a loan at their hand; and long before the deceased reaches their grave, the family members are already thinking about how to deal with the amount of loan.
Zainab died te next day, but she left many stories unfolded this time. She left many questions hung in the thick air of our inhumane daily living. Do you belong to any such area? Are you doing something to save the life of Zainab living in that premises? I don’t remember when did this shift happen, but I don’t like the shift where its all about money and ourselves. I am not sure if I have delivered my sentiments in this short piece of writing but I’ll end the story with prayers for her soul, and prayers that no more Zainabs would have to pay the sacrifice of life for being poor.