The other day I was waiting for my turn at the books shop in Gulberg when something disturbing happened. It didn’t happen to me personally, but it has an affect on me. Thinking about it now, I am disappointed with myself for not voicing my opinion on the matter when the incident occurred. Rudeness and arrogance is very common in our society. Our beloved Prophet (S) had stated to remain humble in our dealings and in our behavior, and that arrogance would just lead to life in misery in the here after.
As a mother, I felt humiliated because this is something we have to teach our children daily. It was a slap in the face that maybe we aren’t doing a good job as we had thought. My sons go to an esteemed school and they have picked up some bad habits. When they show this arrogance, I reprimand them on the spot. I also make it a point to remind them what they did was wrong a few more times, hopefully it will sit in their heads for future reference.
This girl must have been 16 years old, give or take a year. She was waiting at the counter for the salesman to attend to her. It is true that I wasn’t there when the girl arrived. And I have no clue how long she had been waiting for someone to assist her. It was chaos at the bookshop as many adults and children were trying to get their school supplies. These last few weeks are crazy everywhere, if not in bookshops or uniform shops, it’s on the roads in front and around these places. Usually we are in a bad mood, or short tempered because of the chaos. Yes it is annoying to have to wait for someone to help you. But everyone else there is in the same boat as you. So give some leeway. So as I was saying, this girl was waiting at the counter, and I was standing behind the woman who was being helped by the salesman. When he finally gave the lady her bill and freed himself from serving her, he turned to the girl. He knew who was to be served next. I moved up to the counter with my slip. She spoke very rudely to this man who must have been her father’s age. She said that she had been waiting for a long time and he wasn’t helping her. He kindly stated that he had to finish with the other customer and give her the bill before he could help someone else. She looked at him and rudely said, “Whatever!” I just looked at her gaping. The salesman looked at her and was hurt and after a little while his mood turned bitter. But yet, he still was kind and helped her.
My mind started to wonder at thoughts that really shook me up. I will tell you honestly, that if it that was my child and he/she responded in that manner, I’d just smack them upside the head, and scold them repeatedly. “You can’t be rude to him. Who told you you could be rude to anyone let alone your elder?!” These are the things that would have come out of my mouth at the given time. I realize the lifestyle in Pakistan is different than what I was accustomed to growing up with. In the U.S., you don’t have servants waiting on you at all times, unless you are rich. If one can, a cleaner comes in once or twice a week and does your cleaning. The rest is up to you. Here, we have help for every chore, and for everyday of the week. People come in to clean our houses, do our laundry, cook for us, and help watch our children. We can hire gardeners, drivers and guards. Someone is always there to clean whatever dishes we just dirtied, or pick up the clothes we have thrown on the floor. Most people take advantage of these people. They are after all people. I feel some of us have taught our children to talk down to the help. That includes salesmen and women. I have heard children talk rudely to their drivers and maids, and when they are in the shops, they are quite rude there too. I personally don’t like this behavior. We are all equal, and we all should treat each other with respect. I don’t allow my children to talk disrespectfully to any of our servants. They always get a scolding from me if I hear them doing so. But how do I stop this from happening again and again, inside or outside the home.
As a nation, we need to correct this problem because it happens everywhere and all the time, I am sad to admit. Yes, there are times when I am angry or very upset with my domestic help. But most of the time, I speak to them nicely but firmly. I can actually say that I have yelled 5 times in the past 15 years to my help. That is also not good of me.
Respect is earned, it is given, it is supposed to be an automatic response when dealing with anyone. If we as adults, and as mothers, show respect to others even when it is hard because they have messed something up, or spoken rudely to us, we show this response to our children and it will make a difference. Slowly, but surely, we can make Pakistan a country people will want to live in. Everyone is usually in a bad mood here. Heat, blackouts, water shortages, and unruly traffic are some things that add to our daily hardships. So when we go out to run errands, our dyer, or the traffic police, the salesman or vendor, or just a random person on the road does something to us which makes us angry, we respond. We respond with gestures, we respond with name calling. We sometimes respond but cutting them off, or beeping our horns repeatedly. We can do the worst bit by demeaning them, and that makes us feel better. Well, it shouldn’t. We should feel horrible at even thinking about this stuff. Living in this world is not easy. Being a constant role model is even harder I think. But, we need to change ourselves, can’t we?
Show some respect to one another and our children will do the same. Show some leniency and our children will follow our lead. We are human, we will mess up, and we will continue to do this. Inshallah, we will not repeat our same mistakes. But respect is key.
By Maasi Saba