Heatwave and the working animal
KARACHI: The number of people affected by the deadly heatwave in Sindh in general and Karachi in particular has crossed the 100,000 mark. It is a figure that is alarming in the sense that many of those who have lived all their lives in Karachi say that they have never experienced such a stifling summer before.
More than 1,000 people have died in Karachi alone. Hundreds are still being attended to in different hospitals and clinics. Although the heatwave seems to have relented a bit, the summer season is here with most of its torrid attributes.
While the media have been highlighting, perhaps justifiably so, the horror stories related to the victims as well as regarding the unpreparedness of the authorities concerned to handle such a situation, not much is being talked about the heroic deeds of a few who have been lending a helping hand to the affected, particularly those who belong to the underprivileged segment of society.
There are people, and let’s not name them, who, with their teams of young kind-hearted enthusiasts, can be seen working at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre and the Civil Hospital, providing the patients with sufficient amounts of water and ORS bottles. Let’s pray for them.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are some who not only care for their fellow beings but also for animals. Before an example is given to illustrate this point, let’s recall the June 20 lethal hot spell. On that afternoon this writer was on Sharea Faisal heading towards the airport. The suffocating climate had caused people to stay in their homes and offices. But it was heart-wrenching to see on the thoroughfare a man-driven donkey-cart laden with at least 12-foot-long 10 steel pipes. You could tell that the donkey was not immune to heat. And yet, somehow the animal was able to pull the extremely heavy cart as slowly as it could. It’s not that owners or ‘working animals’ (a term used by encyclopaedias) don’t give a damn about their well-being; it’s just that they have to do what they have to do!
There’s a famous dhobi ghaat near Lyari. The washermen there are a kind lot. They make sure (unless it’s imperative to go out for work) that their donkeys remain sheltered and protected from the heat. This picture is a fine example of how a donkey is being saved from the harmful effects of the scorching sun. And the animal is looking pretty relaxed too.