It is late at night, and I am awake, wondering about you.
Yes, me — the one you think of as perhaps belonging to the privileged and educated class. It is true that I can dress up and act as if I belong to their world, but I apologize for the deception. One can say I originated from your world, the working class. Though, I dare not disrespect you and say I can compare our plights. I, after all, can buy myself into another class, even though I don’t really belong. You, however, have no opportunity to move up the social ladder. Though I blend into their world, that does not make me a better being at all. It is pompous for me to express this, but let me admit, you haven’t left my mind.
Who asks about you? Who gives you hope? Who tells you to keep striving in a cruel world? Who tells you there is something to look forward too? Who prays for you? Who rewards you for hard work? Who tries to understand you when you lose hope and no longer want to put on a crooked smile?
You stand among many. Maybe, at times, you feel like a statistic rather than a human being. Maybe, perhaps, nobody has ever noticed you as a soul, a soul with dreams (broken or still in-tact).
If our paths cross, even for a brief moment, I will feel honored to know you. And if given such an honor, I desire to know about your life and dreams. I think of you as a human soul, not just another exploited body that toils under the intense heat of this earth.
It is my sincere apology if ever I acted as they did to you. You may have cleaned after me, greeted me, ……..stood for hours on patrol for me, ruined your body and stifled your innocence…. all this you did, for people who appear like me. You simply exist to give ease to people with privileged — and somehow I found myself in that privileged class, as an outsider. My public persona, however, is only a mask — I learnt only to appear like them (the privileged) as a tactic of survival. Once again, I am sorry for the deception.
And what a world we live in! Why is it you are not thanked and celebrated? Why is the most ugly and immoral people are told to us to be beautiful and wise whilst you are silenced?
Yes, ignorant people judge you in shallow ways. They makes jokes and dehumanize you and say you talk ‘unsophisticated’ or ‘smell’ or you dress tacky. Even the seemingly nice ones discriminate in subtle ways–such as acknowledging you, but deep down considering you inferior. Such minds are elite conformists, who lack empathy. They don’t see why you couldn’t afford their fancy education, nor understand why you cannot afford to dress as a pompous elite prat. Trust me, you are not missing out from the artificial lives they live. I have seen it: there is no soul, the big ‘promise’ they exude is pure deception.
Let them have the world, the duniya. Thats all they have. Their money, so-called ‘beauty’, and prestige cannot buy true love or genuine human bonds, nor does their material existence make them more desirable to our Maker.
Yes, many people in our debauched world are obsessed over and celebrate the so-called ‘amazing’ people (you know, those rich ‘beautiful’ pompous elite who are apparently examples of lovely beings). I am not interested at all to see the lives of the privileged– how utterly mediocre and predictable they are–they all desperately want to be heard and seen. It is the silence that captivates me, it is the things that society tells us to shun that I want to know.
I embrace you (the silenced souls), I celebrate you. But forget about me and my concern, I am nobody. It is our Creator who places you higher than those upper crust villains. Who am I to tell you this? It is I, perhaps, that should learn from you. It is I that needs to be silent and listen to you. Stop me at anytime. Who am I to explain your plight? Teach me.
Tell me yours dreams. I will listen. Believe me, I wish I could begin to understand your isolation, your exploitation, your voiceless existence and how you silently blend into a background that ignores you. Tell me the most intense or mundane thing, and let it be appreciated. I just only hope I can understand, even though there are billions of dreams/stories/thoughts that have been bottled up. Someone, somewhere, is listening.
The House Keeper
I came back to my hotel early to rest for a few hours. Upon entering my room, the housekeeping maid was in the midst of tidying my room. I sat on my bed and rested while a male maid was tidying my room. He was a small, older man with brown skin and a cheerful face. I asked him if he had restocked the water bottles in the room, as I was thirsty from just coming out of the humidity from outside. He quickly went and got me multiple bottles of water, and then asked me, “Where are you from Ma’am?”
I explained to him my mixed origins, which then I turned the question to him, knowing he was from a similar region as my Mother’s origins. We were both Muslims, also. I quickly made a mental note of his scenario without him telling me: he was a migrant worker and this underpaid job was the best he could find, tragically — he also likely left his entire family in order to find whatever work he could. My observation was almost accurate, until I asked him “Do you miss your family back home?” He then told me, ” I don’t have much family left back home.” Then upon further discovery, I learnt that he had never married at all, nor had children. And given his cultural origins, I was shocked. “Why not?” I asked, very immaturely. He then said: “I am poor. I have nothing. I am old now. Nobody wants someone like me.” I instantly refuted this statement and said, “No, don’t say that. That is not true, there is somebody for everyone. Insha’allah, you will find someone one day.” But then he said to me, “Ma’am, you are rich, you don’t understand.” I almost wanted to explain to him that I have not always been ‘rich’ or that I am not rich back in my home country. But then I realized my privilege at that moment — even though I am a prostitute, I bought my way out of a lower economic class. Given the reality that I was staying at a luxury hotel, I could not insult him by comparing my plight to his. He acknowledged me kindly and then went back to his work. As soon as he left, I felt tears brimming in my eyes. I could not forget his words, nor his situation. Perhaps his imaan (faith) was so strong that he accepted the lonely reality of his life? Perhaps he accepted that he was basically going to do slave labour for the rest of this life? Or did he accept it? Was the kindness and cheerful expression that he exuded masking a deep sadness? Or did he find some way to cope with this reality? These questions boggled my mind. He was such a nice person — yet he considered himself unworthy for love and marriage — why is he not ‘worth’ anything in today’s society? Why are the good souls left dejected and silenced?
My mind reassured itself when thinking of him, and the numerous others I met in a similar situation: “A man, alone, is the neighbour of God” — an Eastern Proverb
They might be maids, labourers, sex workers or sex slaves, cleaners, doormen, and many more —never forget to acknowledge those who are unappreciated in today’s world. Never lose touch with the earth, stay humble.