Pakistan is in a desperate struggle to keep its lights on and ultimately its economy rolling. With no lights in the big cities for 10-12 hours and in the rural areas for 18 hours, the economy cannot simply get off the ground. It is a scourge that has left the nation in battered spirits and deep frustration.
My trip to Pakistan was very different this time. When to cook, when to take shower, when to clean the house, when to wash clothes, every activity is set according to the new time clock i.e light aayi, light gayi (light is here, light has gone). Most hectic were the intermittent availability of light hours when the focus was getting done with the majority of housechores. The two words that most frequently came out of everybody’s lips was: loadshedding. I would find my parents planning their schedule for a meeting with someone, planning their housechores with the maids, with the gardener hovered around one thing: when will light be available to get the work done.
Some of the chores need water availability and that too would happen when there is electricity available. The municipality would release water to the households only when their electric motor is working, otherwise you would find the taps hissing and drying. I would find my parents more concerned about checking the water levels in their private water storage which they use when there is no light, about recharging their UPS so that it can work in times of power failure, charging their mobiles, ipads, kindles, laptops to remain connected virtually, my mother about keeping the doors of the fridge minimally open to avoid things getting rotten than anything else.So, all in all, the entire day was spent in a bid to succeed against the scourge of loadshedding. The mechanics of living had changed altogether, I wondered. The entire house is now dotted with these white energy saving bulbs, which I could never grow fond of as they were not as bright as the old fashioned kind and made me look henious in the mirror with makeup on.
While this is the story of my household, what about the not so priviledged ones. What about the rural areas where ther just have their piece of land and their livestock as their main source of livelihood. How are they surviving? I was in Pakistan during cool season when the heatwave hadent really started but the thought that made me shudder was how the not so priviledged ones survive when the heatwave punishes them ruthlessly at 48 degree celsius. When diseases begin to multiply, dehydration, heatstroke cases occur more frequently, their livestock is already dying due to unbearable heat. Maybe its no the heatwave but the lack of power that is the real killer.