By Imane Babar Wahedi
June 28, 2016
This year, Ramazan has been anything but blessed and peaceful, considering we have witnessed the heart wrenching death of Amjad Sabri, the unfortunate kidnapping of Awais Ali Shah, and not to forget, the increase in mugging and theft throughout the city. Sure, we’re fasting, but is that really all there is to Ramazan in Pakistan?
Amidst this chaos, I came across a Pakistani advertisement on television, directed by Vasan Bala. It’s a heart touching ad that depicts a little boy who wears new clothes for the festival and runs out to meet his friends. They spot an old sweet vendor whose cart is stuck in a groove and, hence, is unable to sell his products.
What the children did next is what took my breath away. They scooped up some Samosas and Jalebis in their Kurtas and rushed into the market to sell them just before Iftar, while the grateful vendor stared at them in surprise.
Towards the end, we see the boy panic as his new Kurta became greasy. But his proud, tear struck mother reassures him that since those stains resulted from a good cause, they are ‘good stains’.
The advertisement touched many hearts. The director of the box office hit Lunchbox (2013) has put together this two minute masterpiece that so easily endears the heart and invokes feelings that hit straight home.
It’s a reminder of what Ramazan truly means. We’ve seen other strong advertisements this year too, including a mobile phone advertisement promoting women’s empowerment. While it received mix reviews; some absolutely loved it and others offered their share of criticism, I personally felt pretty indifferent towards it.
But the same cannot be said about this particular ad – it moved me. In fact, for the first time in a long time, social media didn’t have anything negative to say about an advertisement; everyone has loved it:
Mawi An @mawi_an
Sweet sweet advert from #SurfExcel
"Helping someone is also an act of faith"#madadekibadat #Ramadan #Pakistan https://youtu.be/I5_XH1ikNsw
10:12 PM - 19 Jun 2016
Start to a beautiful day with the thought #madadekibadat. What's more interesting that watching lil kids teaching us the lessons of life
Harsh Hingorani @HarshEffect
Great campaign #madadekibadat @MLLintasGroup
5:32 PM - 25 Jun 2016
Okay i just saw the Surf Excel #madadekibadat TVC. Call me a sodtie but it was a tear jerker!
With all that has been happening in this holy month, this was the perfect fit for Ramazan. It highlighted the spirit of togetherness, charity, patience and tolerance, something we, as a society, seem to have forgotten. But it spoke to me beyond just that. Not only did it manage to promote the true essence of Ramazan, it taught us to learn how to be human from the real humans out there, the ones that have not been tainted by disillusionment, cynicism, intolerance or violence – the kids.
After all, how many of us would put our pride aside, help a poor man in need and let our new clothes be stained just to help make his day slightly brighter? How many of us have tried to practice patience this month? If you want an honest answer to that, try driving out on the streets during your Roza and you won’t be surprised with the answers you get. And the fact that we are no longer surprised by this behaviour goes to show just how indifferent we have become to everything; the holy month, etiquettes, Adaab, Tameez and even humanity. We expect people to be rude and intolerant in Ramazan – in fact we use our Rozas as an excuse for our irrational and bigoted behaviour. We’d rather beat an old man because he was found eating rice 40 minutes before Iftar time– let alone stain our clothes to help an elderly on the street.
If we were compassionate human beings, selflessly helping others in Ramazan wouldn’t be an unrealistic option. And right now, it is.
I don’t know about you, but for the rest of Ramazan, I intend on making sure that my family and I spend the rest of this month (and perhaps, the rest of our year) keeping in mind the humanity that lies hidden beneath all our disenchantment.
Imane Babar Wahedi is a Social Sciences graduate; her interests include writing, poetry, learning about different cultures and social issues.