All of us are acquainted with the word "mother." It is not just a word. It is in fact a sea of blessings, conveyed by the millions of books and trillions of sentences that extol the greatness of "mother." Because she cares for, protects and nurtures her children, "mother" is a symbol of kindness, love, peace and affection. But there is also another face of mother, as shown horrifically by an incident in Pakistan.
One rainy night, Chand Bibi hobbled with a bottle of petrol in her hand into the house of a middle-class family. She made her way to a room where a husband and wife were sleeping. She locked the door of the room from the outside and very quietly started pouring petrol into it from beneath the door. When she felt the petrol had had enough time to reach the bed where the husband and wife were sleeping, she lit a match and threw it under the door. Fire erupted, and both the husband and wife were engulfed in flames. Hearing their cries, people gathered and the police and an ambulance were called. When they arrived, however, both the husband and wife were dead. Chand Bibi was still sitting outside the room, giving every appearance of a mentally disturbed person. Police then arrested her for purposes of investigation.
Following the investigation, police revealed some shocking facts about the case. It turned out that the couple burned to death were the son and daughter-in-law of Chand Bibi. Chand Bibi's husband had died only a year into their marriage, leaving her alone with her son. Because she had a high regard for self-respect, she preferred to work as a servant rather than resort to begging or to unethical means to earn a livelihood. Although she herself remained hungry, she worked long hours seven days a week to provide her son with food, shelter, books and love. She avoided a second marriage, because she thought it would divide the full attention she owed her son to make sure all his needs were met.
In time, Chand Bibi's efforts were crowned with success. Her son became an engineer, got a decent job in a reputable industry, and married a pretty girl with whom he lived a luxurious life.
With the passage of time, however, the son and his wife were no longer willing to live with Chand Bibi, as they had become socially embarrassed by her backwardness (which was not actually backward). The modern son had apparently completely forgotten that his mother was the only credit holder for his luxurious life.
Eventually, the generational breakdown became so severe that the son and his wife took to beating Chand Bibi on a daily basis. Attempting to get rid of her, they first locked her in the basement and tied her down with chains. But after some time they got her admitted to a mental hospital, making the separation complete.
So the situation remained, until, one night, Chand Bibi got the chance to break out of the mental hospital. That was the night she went straight to her son's house and burned her son and daughter-in-law alive.
The Lesson We Can Learn from This Grim Tale
Nature is also our mother. It gives us filtered oxygen from trees, beautiful flowers and fruits, and fertile land on which we can grow wheat, rice and other necessary crops. In short, it can be said that nature provides us with countless blessings.
But what have we given nature back? In truth, we are neglecting her and relegating her to an old folks' home, because we want to get more and more money. Yes, we have abandoned nature, because we have joined the modern scientific path of progress that never allows us to show her any kindness. Nuclear tests, industrial expansion, smoke-exhaling cars, construction of buildings on agricultural lands, and our butchered forests all make clear to Mother Nature that we are fed up with her and want to live our lives without showing her any concern.
Because of our attitude, Mother Nature has now become mentally disturbed. She is angry and desirous of taking revenge. Her retaliation will not only have a disastrous impact on our health, but also on economies in every part of the world. She is already taking revenge in the form of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods, among which the recent earthquake in the Philippines is only the latest and most dramatic event. Casualties from these disasters are already sky-high in number, and the after-effects include new diseases, such as Dengue Fever, which have emerged in the era of climate change.
Climate change has already affected the growth of crops, since the resulting weather disasters undermine agricultural systems and damage thousands of crops. Nowadays, crops are yielding only half their former harvests. This is very bad both for the economies of every country and for the health of people, since many people are now earning and eating only half of what they used to.
We still have time to rehabilitate our mother, Nature, but doing so requires from us love, peace and care. If we do not take that mission seriously at this stage, nature is sure to attack us with a loud cry and end this world forever, burning us alive as Chand Bibi burned her son and daughter-in-law.
Beware. Mother Nature has now become as dangerous as Chand Bibi. We must therefore reconsider our modern behavior and become more considerate to Mother Nature.
If we are honest with Mother Nature, she will never disturb us and our modern way of life. All it will take to put her at peace is love, care and consideration.
The Author is an Islamabad-based freelance writer.