“ICE-CREAM; we will pick you in fifteen- your treat” as soon as I read the message I started waiting for my friends. As planned we got to the ice-cream parlor and they got themselves the most expensive flavor. With each bite of the delicious swiss toblerone ice cream came an even yummier treat in form of gossips. From engagements to break ups, fights to make ups, classes to bunks we had discussed it all. There was silence for about five minutes in which we paid attention around; the waiter was flipping TV channels. One glimpse of the ‘Imran Khan’s tsunami’, as some newspaper named it, was sufficient to resume our chaffering. And not just us the 30th October Imran Khan jalsa did get everyone’s attention for at least a few minutes, if not more.
Now it was turn of politics in Pakistan to be canvassed.
A friend: You know what our nation needs is a dictator, and an honest one. Not the one with a uniform. Everyone in our country has a god damn opinion. You ask twelve people even a simple yes-no question like ‘Do you want ice cream?’ you will get at least five different responses. ‘Is it plain or with topping?’, ‘Only if there is a pastry with it’, ‘How many scoops?’…
Another friend: (laughs) funny how you put it. I wish changing a country’s ‘system’, if I may say, was this simple by effort from one side only. One prince comes, and rescues the princess. Mind you the princess wanted to be rescued which reflected in her actions. But not in Pakistan, you want to change everything around you but yourself. You ‘call a friend’ when the police warden stops you on violating traffic laws and you call others corrupt. You ‘seek help from influential acquaintances’ when you need a job but accuse others of using connections. You ‘copy your classmate’s exam’ whenever you get a chance and you call others cheaters. I can go on and on… Like nation, like leader.
Yet another friend: Errm.. so that means we are not voting?
Another friend: Oh shut up! This isn’t funny- that’s the dilemma with our nation. We tend to ignore things, or blame them on someone. And when we cannot find ‘someone’, we blame it on fate.
The chattering, unpredictably, actually led us into healthy discussion. We all took something that touched us most and left for homes. On getting home, I found out that we had left the ice-cream parlor without paying the bill. For a second I thought I should go back and make the payment but it didn’t take long before the thought went away. Shortly after, I was celebrating the fact that we had managed to eat free ice-cream that too without making any effort.
Two days later, I found myself walking into the ice-cream parlor paying the bill I had forgotten to pay (AND THEY HAD FORGOTTEN TO COLLECT). What made me pay the bill were some very powerful words I read typed and pressed under the glass on a table at a professor’s office, “Be the change, you want to see in others”.
I felt very proud, guilt-free and relieved. Partly because the lady at the counter remembered we hadn’t paid the bill and majorly because I had taken the first step in effort to improve my surroundings. I will be the change I want to see in others.