Helping others ….. and the gender issue
Food for thought

Helping others ….. and the gender issue

While driving home in driving rain.

Just love driving in the rain…. I am going back home after teaching art to twin girls. It is so much fun. While I was busy with the painting work, this morning, my mother sent me a text that we are having my cousin and his family over for lunch. I quickly spoke to my domestic help who assured me he would be able to  manage a proper lunch within a couple of hours. As the class ended, around 12 pm,  I headed home, deciding to forgo the other chores I’d planned to do. So, I can have time with my sweet guests. By now it was raining heavily. This rain is so typical of the flash rains that Islamabad is used to.

As I reach F-8 area, along Margalla Road,  enjoying the sight of the pine trees and the hills on my right. In front of the Naval colony, I see a motorcycle standing right in the middle of the intersection. It is obvious that an accident has just happened a while ago.  A blue car is standing on the right side, where it shouldn’t be. I realize, that the person in this car was involved in the accident. I can see two men and two small boys standing to my left side of the road. I pass them all, thinking that there is no lady here, the men will sort things out. However, the thought of the two little boys aged 5 or 6, make me stop the car. ”How would they manage in this rain?” I think. It is around 12.30 pm now, “my guests must have arrived by now.  These men can cope? The rain is too much!” And so many other thoughts come to stop me from stopping.

But I shrug these thoughts aside, because I know, I wont be able to live with myself if I don’t check up.  I put my doputta on my head to face the torrential rain, (of course I have no umberella, as usual) and lock the car and walk out into the rain. Of course I get sopping wet within minutes. I walk over, (my thoughts had taken me quite far…) I see the two boys shivering and crying trying to get into a small police kiosk, the man obviously involved in the accident is holding his right arm which is dis-shapen, it is obviously dislocated at the wrist and probably has a fracture too. He is very upset. I notice that  the blue car has disappeared. The man tells me that the car had hit them, and now has driven off. He is very upset wondering what are they to do?

“First of all, you need to calm down, you are upsetting the boys,” I tell him. He looks at his arm pitifully. “Will it get all right?”

“It must be hurting a lot, but it will get all right, don’t worry. Be brave now.” I tell him. He calmed down.   We assess the situation. He cant drive the motorbike now. The other man, also is a stranger trying to help, and he belongs to the Navy. But we can’t enter the security bound area. (I have left my card at home, and have nothing with me.) I am in a bit of a dilemma, I want to help with the kids, but am apprehensive about helping the man.

Then, i realize, here is a genuine situation. So, I better forget about the stupid apprehensions. The other gentleman in a white shalwar and kameez, helps in securing the motorbike under a tree on the roadside,  and has put its lock on it. I offer to take the injured man and his shivering and crying boys into my car to the hospital. We bid farewell to the other gentleman.

They sit at the back, we all are fully drenched. The boys are still shivering, but have stopped crying by now.  I put on the heater of my car, though its summer. “Shall I take you to PIMS?” I ask.

“Baji, if you can take me home, then at least I can drop the kids with my wife, then, I’ll go to the hospital on my own. “ That sounds  logical. How would he take care of the kids while in hospital?  I wonder where he lives. “I live in G-11, if you can please drop me there.”  I keep driving as he gives me directions to his house. Meanwhile we are talking…

He is a police constable, and had been on sick leave due to another accident. Today was his last day of . “Where were you going?” I ask him. “I was taking my son to Bari Imam’s mazar, as there is a stream there, in which I had taken my son for a dip. He has some skin disease, and I was told that the stream has healing qualities”. A dip? In this rain? These cute little boys? No wonder they were shivering so much. Then coming in the motorbike too! I didn’t express my thoughts to him. He was too grateful. “Baji, you are a very noble lady, (the Urdu word he uses is ‘azeem’,) no one else would have stopped!” I say, “its ok, no issue. I’m glad I was of help.” Then,  I ask him, “Had I been in an accident, wouldn’t you have helped me?” he agrees that he would have, and continues to pray for my well being and health. He gives me his phone number, and offers to help me in any way he can, anytime in future. As I drop him, the little boys are  in a good mood too, and wave goodbye.

I think of the numerous occasions when strangers have gone out of their way to help me in my life.

As I am driving home, I remember other occasions when I had helped. Once it was a man who was carrying a ten year old boy, who seemed rather grown up to be carried. I just stopped to offer a ride, and the man told me that his son is handicapped, so he brings him here to Islamabad for physio- therapy in the PAF hospital. Then he carries the son all the way to the nearest bus stop, (which is around a kilometer away). So, I was glad I had offered help. Another time, it was a couple who were standing on the roadside. I gave them a lift, and it turned out the wife had had an operation last week and had come to the main hospital to meet the surgeon. Now, had to go back to Rawalpindi from Islamabad, I drove them to the Metro Station. They too, had to walk over a kilometer to get transport back to Rawalpindi. My thoughts went on and on…

Yes, I’ve given lifts to bystanders many times. – Mostly, to women and children. Occasionally, to men also, who I could see were facing some serious problem.

Because it’s not a ‘man/woman’ thing, it’s a  ‘human being in distress’ thing.  We all need to help each other.  It’s my way of saying ‘thank You’ to Someone up there, who has given me this car to drive around in.

When we ladies, need help, we take it from anyone who is there. And I’ve found that everyone in Pakistan is ready to help. But when we ladies need to help others, we  are hesitant, and start thinking about the ‘gender’ and ‘class’ issues. Why? When these issues don’t’ matter while taking help, then it shouldn’t matter while giving help also.

Of course, we have to be very careful. I only help when I’m offering  – if you know what I mean – when someone is asking for help, that is the dangerous thing. I help people randomly, like if it is very hot, or there is an unexpected problem, or when I can empathize with the person on the road…

So, keeping the security issue in mind, we all must help. Who knows, it could have happened to me or you ….

Actually, there is another very poignant story attached to this one. It happened many years ago, in Madina, when my husband and I drove to Saudi Arabia for Umra from Kuwait. – But that’s another blog another time!

Meanwhile, stay blessed, helpful and safe, my dear reader. 🙂


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