This post was originally published in Masalamommas
I put the car window up the moment the vehicle jolted to a halt; drowning out the chaos of blaring horns and persistent pan-handlers. We were stuck in rush hour traffic. As the dust settled, I glanced about realizing we would be in the car for ages. I looked at my daughter, comfortable in her bright red car-seat having accepted our inevitable delay to get to Nana & Nani’s house. Our visit to Pakistan was coming to an end and I marvelled at how quick my picky daughter had adjusted to the stark difference in environment as that of Toronto.
There was a knock on the window by my daughter’s side. I looked up to lock eyes with a little boy who couldn’t have been more than a couple of years older than my 4-year-old. His face covered in dust, his clothes tattered he peered into the car.
“Baji..kuch madad karo” (sister, help me out)
With the hardened response of a true Karachiite I instinctively raised my hand to my forehead as a gesture for him to leave.
“Maaf karo” (forgive me)
I was gripped with guilt. One more second and the enormity of child-poverty that loomed outside the 4 doors of my air-conditioned, chauffeur-driven car was about to suffocate me. One more second and I wouldn’t be able to play dumb to the harsh reality that watched my daughter eat her snack as she playfully kicked her shiny Nike adorned feet. She glanced up at the boy gazing at her and responded with her signature ‘angry-frown’ face. Displeased, she turned her head away.