Tell Tale Earth

June 5, 2020 Shahroze Ali Khan and Mashal Khan

Too much. It’s too much. Whispered Earth’s core. Digging. Sowing. Mining. Even fracking. Worst is killing. Oh my children till when will you keep playing good cop and bad cop. To me you are all equal. Although you have quite forgotten your Mother Earth as you pollute land, water and air with not only trash but also hate. The violence. The abuse. The mistreatment. The racism. The discrimination. The inequality. There is hole in my ozone layer. Oh, my beautiful ice glaciers are melting. Weathers are changing drastically. Winters come late. Rainy during summer harvest. I’m sick with what the experts call ‘global warming.’ If that wasn’t enough come 2020, I have a spreading virus within me.

Flowers in the gardens are dying faster than they grow and slowly as they wither, you’re reaping the seeds you sow. One country, one nation blaming another country and another region for all the havocs that people themselves have been wreaking regardless of the geological locations and religions they were born into. I see from up there an airplane meeting it’s unfortunate destiny, I see masses staying indoors for the sole reason of staying safe from the virus that has unleashed a series of misfortunate events and then I see masses going out for the right of a whole community and people all over the world gathering for a cause.

Come. There is much you don’t know. Much you still need to see, to experience and to learn. You think you own whatever land you land on. The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim. Every stone, leaf and creature has a life, has a spirit, has a name.

I have been swallowing what I think was air, but over the course of many years, it was all just pollutants that the residents have unleashed in the atmosphere, in the rivers and in my core. I feel weak in my bones and the noise of the current riots are like blows to my head. But the lockdowns imposed all over the world were like a breeze to me. For the first time in many years, my air went clean and waters cleared from the garbage and waste that has been dumped in my rivers and seas over the centuries.

And although this virus is wreaking havoc on my children, the enforced lockdown has offered them an unasked gift of reflection – the pause on everyday life and taking refuge at home – unveiled many deeply rooted systemic problems that the unchecked dehumanizing behavior constructed to support racism, patriarchy and xenophobia. Though it breaks my earthy core to see so many of my children dying because of this virus. But seeing my bickering children learning to empathize more and coming together also strengthens my earthy mantle. Forced to confront their own prejudices and biases. With time to process it and reflect I believe this is a great awakening.

I’d like to share a cute story with all of you here. The empathy meter I have, turns on a white light every time it detects acts of kindness however small they may be. I was once analyzing the Covid situation in different regions and this girl, Shazia, caught my attention. In the suburbs of central Punjab in Pakistan, empty eyes and a child in her lap. Husband laying in the courtyard, not able to go out due to the lockdown. I could smell the frustration of the mother for she was not able to feed her child proper food, the frustration of the man, for he was not able to get any work outside and the child —ah the innocent eyes reflecting the traces of the lingering poverty. The family needed help but was too shy to ask for it. I saw it was lunch time and the neighbors had cooked green beans and some chicken for lunch and the aroma was getting around. Shazia burst intotears and hugged her child, she prayed to Allah —for they will rather die of hunger then ask for help. Just then, I saw the phone buzzing. The girl says hello in a sad tone. “Hi. I am from Kaarvan Crafts Foundation. You have been associated with us for the past few years”, says a female voice. “G baji”, said Shazia considering it a usual call from the organization she has been working with. “We are disbursing some funds to all of our artisans so I am going to need your ID number Shazia bajiso you can just collect the amount from a nearby EasyPaisa shop”.

Shazia was so overwhelmed and grateful at the same time. She gave her ID number in a broken voice and conveyed her gratitude.

“Who is sending us poor people money Shazia?”, asked her husband.

“The same organization, you were too reluctant to let me work with,” Shazia replied in a confident tone and left her husband thinking if all men were to support their women, how much better the world would be.

The light turned bright white and has been blipping ever since the outbreak and I hope this whisper reaches you. To overcome this virus, I need you my children to set aside your differences and present a united front. Rise to the occasion. We can no longer be silent passive observers watching injustices unfold before us and do nothing about it. All the evils are peeling away and presenting itself in all its gory galore from racial prejudices, income disparity to gender inequality. This is the time to step up and amplify voice, aid, make resources more accessible to marginalized communities. 2020 is surely a test and cleansing. Rise. Red as the dawn.