Hope against hope

Hope Against Hope

Faris Ali

I once visited the slums of Lahore with some of my leftist friends. I was not astonished to see that people living there have nothing – they survive on one meal a day, maybe two when they are lucky.

I was astonished when I offered food to a little girl and she asked me, “Has God sent this?” I looked into the eyes of her father standing next to her, holding a bag of food in my hands, wondering what was I supposed to say.

I replied, “Yes, indeed. Who else is our caretaker?” When we were getting ready to leave, her father told me that every night when he brought food for his little girl, he told her it was God who had sent it. “This is why she asked you that question.”

This was the moment I realised that all these poor people had was God. God provides them hope which keeps them alive.

I turned to the friend sitting next to me and asked, “What just happened?”

To this, he replied with a famous quote by Karl Marx, “Religion is the sigh of oppressed people; it is the heart of heartless world and soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the masses.”

I had no choice but to agree. Indeed, Marx was right.

“God is dead, Marx is dead and I myself am not feeling so well.” These are historic words by Eugene Lonesco.

Hope is the anchor of life – or at least this is what one has been told. Never lose hope. It is through hope you can conquer the universe – these are some stereotype narratives which we hear daily. The answer about questions concerning hope can only be hoped to be answered.

Hope is a very tricky word. Those who have nothing, they do have hope. Those who have everything they don’t need hope. Man is taught to be hopeful even if he is hopeless, he is supposed to create hope in this hopelessness. Hope reminds me of Kris Kristofferson’s song, “He’s a prophet, he’s a pusher, he’s a walkin’ contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction.”

Now after a long time when I recall this story and compare it with the current world scenario in the middle of a pandemic, I realise that day it was the little girl, all she had was God alone. And now, it is the entire world and all we have is God alone.

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