We consumers are masters of confusion
by, Naseer Ahmed
I am a consumer. You seem a bit worried seeing me in a bad shape. You do not know, but my strong desire to be ignorant has caused my poverty.
You know, poverty is double-edged sword. It is both a personal decision and a collective effort.
This attachment to ignorance has freed me from many hard choices. I could suffer all kind of inconveniences, but the inconvenience of thinking up solutions to my problem is the toughest of all. I would prefer suffering torture over facing up my troubles.
I need some wine and some drug to run away from life. And ignorance is best of beverages. I take this heavenly Soma in big quantity.
We consumers love to see with blindness of ignorance. Our messiahs teach us that smelling, tasting, touching, seeing, hearing and thinking are not good for our health and moral well being. We are so obedient that we follow the commandments of our messiahs to the full.
We consumers have been taught to hate reason, experiment and truth so much that we get quite violent when somebody mentions these words to us. You are lucky that I decided to listen to you. We use every tactic in the torture book to silence the ones who dare to speak truth. So please do not insult our ignorance with your foreign fancy talk.
We consumers behave like a peasant husband who hates his wise city wife because she is smarter than him. We keep, the wise sods, like you, quite busy in counting their bruises and injuries when their wisdom cause headache to us. We believe ignorance is the home of wisdom where wisdom being a just chattel has no right to question the ignorance.
The product and service sellers know our sentimental weaknesses too much. They keep bombarding us with explicit images of girls and boys who do not eat well. They know how to grab our attention in order to entice us in pursuing all kinds of illusions of beauty and wealth.
We worship these sensations and we pay them tribute by spending money to buy their illusions. We do not care that we buy bad health and miserable life but these illusions are so sexed up that we forget to see things clearly very willingly.
This sensational cheap theatre kills so many people. Journalists make lots of money by selling these dead bodies. We consumers enjoy the pleasure of value added sentimentality attached with death.
You seem quite a wise guy but your wisdom could also be a cheap theatre like many other in our town. But, you are right, saying stuff does not take anything away.
We are characters of the Arabian Nights of our rights. I think you remember those lizards that guarded the treasures and you do not know how to open that gate too.
Whenever we want to tell our sufferings to our wise leader, he starts his own tale of sorrow, but his story of sorrow is too long and too boring. We have heard that story in town square too often.
Sadly, our consumer rights are mere stories. We could not transform these stories into every day realities.
We are the ones who ran away like chickens when the sacred put the light off to save us from embarrassment of deserting our best friend.
We loved the bravery and beautiful sermon of that courageous woman who stood up against the tyrant but we went to congratulate the tyrant who killed her noble family.
You know, we hate forming lines but when it comes to pay homage to a tyrant we love to form lines.
See I am losing the track of what I really want to say. The worst thing about ignorance is that you cannot speak straight-forwardly, truthfully and precisely. Verily, we are prisoners of speeches.
We consumer suffer bright, clear and right in the face kind of injustice without protesting, but we decline to speak truth bright, clear and right in the face.
We have learnt the great hypocrisy from the Mullah of the city, the faithless tyrant and a delusional poet. Your wisdom cannot sort out our hypocrisy. It seems your wisdom would spend rest of her life fawning over our great hypocrisy.
So do not pretend to be too wise, and do not object the length of this sermon. This is fruit of long songs of praises for officers who dismiss me from their presence in some short words.
This sermon is fruit of false vows and wrong promises I made to the girl I loved most. She knew the falsehood of my vows and promises but we cannot help prologues to our monologues. So cut copy and paste as best as you can and do not moan too much because I cannot change these lifelong habits for you.
You want to educate me about my rights. Yes; education about products and services is my right. Access to safe and healthy products is my right. The information about products and services is my right. Justice and redress is my right. Safe environment is my right. Access to basic necessities of life is my right and to fight for these rights is my duty.
This sounds music to my ears. This is too bright and clear like Christ’s bride. But you know we consumers are masters of confusion. We are very good at complicating the simple. We could turn a service into an unendurable torture. If you do not get what I mean, just travel in and around my city, you would know it yourself.
Your education about my rights seems to me an empty lie and your fine dress seems an undeniable truth. I measure the length and breadth of your avarice.
Please forgive me for distrusting you too much. I have seen too much darkness in the hearts behind fine cloths. At times, I come across a fine person before losing them in the jungle of insecurities.
Your attempts at educating me might suffer in the hands of those who make money out of our ignorance. They would not let you waste their treasure. They would not let you rampage their garden. They would not let you break into their paradise.
You talk about morality. You know, they use morality as a tool to usurp our rights, to destroy our desires and to kill our wishes.
I am so afraid of morality, I run for cover when somebody mentions morality. I have seen morality exploding in markets, killing women and children so often that I do not trust it anymore.
This morality relishes putting some lead into the delicate body of a girl who wants to know. This heartless and loveless morality murders generosity and compassion every day.
I neither am a lover nor are you a problem solving friend of a lover. I could see wealth smiling behind your moral claims. You want to sell your products in the super-market of human rights. On the other hand I want to buy more ignorance from the big store of ignorance because it frees me from taking decisions.
But, perhaps, you are right. I should trust you. I suffer every day. I should speak up a bit now. We might locate a temple in the midst of a burning desert. We might come across some oasis where we enjoy the cool and pleasant breeze.
Let us take up responsibility of thinking and sharing, let us sit together, let us talk, let us fight for our rights.
Let us take our role on stage, it is been long suffering this cheap morality play from the stand. Let us make this play better by putting some insight into it. Freedom is always a lot better than abject slavery.
You are right that request, pleadings and kowtowing increases the confidence of decision maker. Our capacity to suffer insult and disgrace deprives us of our right to participate in the decisions about us. Let us not suffer insult anymore, let us not suffer disgrace anymore.
My city is sobbing and crying under the burden of so many diseases. We will have to raise our voice to save our city from fake medicines and quackery. We will have to protest outside offices to gain access to safe and healthy water.
We will have to fight off this violent sentimentality they teach in schools, colleges and universities. We will have to fight for reason, art and science.
We will have to fight against this corruption culture, bribe culture, incompetency culture and black marketing culture.
You know, we will have to kick poverty out of our place or otherwise she would reside in our place forever.
The one is there to provide justice must be convinced that we cannot spice up his egotistic stupidities and whimsical ignorance anymore. His job is to provide justice for justice is our right and to provide it is his job. He must stick to his job. We are not interested in his peacock show any more.
See, I met you just a while ago, but I am ready to cross the ocean of fire. This is power of big sweet dreams. This dream of seeing things better and better around me has filled me with light of hope. My heart jumps, runs and dances like a leopard. My face is sparkling with optimism and possibilities life offers.
I know this new found light of courage might dim, while facing the heartless monstrosity of power. The leopard might turn into a servile poodle licking the feet of this heartless power.
Come whatever may, I have made up my mind to defy this suffering in silence attitude. I would raise my voice, I would demand my rights and I would do everything to enjoy my rights.
The breeze intends to perfume everything
The dead are ready to embrace life once again. (Hafez)
(I wrote this monologue for Consumer Watch Pakistan)