Drowning, yet thirsty


In 1994, who was worried about water?

In school, we as kids had several different homework to take care of. There was one called sentences. The teachers would give us a certain word and ask us to create a sentence in which to include the said word. I was in 4th grade. One of the words was: gift. We came to school the next morning. Before the teacher came to class, all of our friends started comparing their sentences. I realised that I had not made any sentence on that word. I started to panic. I asked one of my friends what sentence he had used and if he could suggest one for me. His was “eyes are a great gift from God.” He suggested that I use the same, except I use the word water instead of eyes. I went ahead and did it for the sake of finishing the homework but I felt inferior because eyes surely fit the idea of a great gift, much more than water.

In 1994, who was worried about water? We drank directly from the hose whenever we were thirsty during cricket. Didn’t sound much like a gift to me at the time. Fast forward to the world of today dominated by the devastating impacts of climate change, which we can no longer ignore or hide from. I feel like reaching out to that friend and telling him that he had unknowingly given me a better sentence than the one he had written in that homework assignment. Sure, eyes are one of the best organs in a human body and without vision, we are not capable of doing a lot of things. Well, here are some facts for you: the world has seen successful blind people and as ironic as it may sound, some of the most iconic visionaries were actually blind. Some of the leading names include Ray Charles, Helen Keller, and so forth. However, humanity may not survive, let alone make iconic achievements in various fields in the absence of water. Speaking of which, with the devastating impacts of climate change, the world may have ever more water for all of us to drown in, but ever fewer amounts for all of us to drink. Wars will happen over water.

Every now and then our realisation is updated with water tables going further down. So, we have to dig deeper in order to find the water we can use. While the fossil fuel corporations have already made it worse for all of life on earth to keep surviving, the other corporations that are in the business of selling clean water are consuming ever more resources. They basically gain rights to these sources of pure water and what these companies actually manufacture are plastic bottles. They fill these bottles with purified water for us to buy and consume. Almost nobody trusts the water that is available to us from the same sources that had been providing us water directly when I and many others used to drink directly from the hose.

We will very soon sleepwalk into a world where clean water would be available only to those who can afford to buy it and in the case of Pakistan, it would be only for those who have access to people in high places, because there is no reason to believe that the national mindset would change with dwindling water sources. Corruption would still be the national driver. And in that horrible world where clean drinking water becomes a luxury, what would be the fate of the poor people is a horror story that takes away my sleep at night. While that thought is scary, what is perhaps scarier is the lack of thought given to this problem at the national level right now. Climate change is not even a topic we hear in Pakistan.

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