“Meet Yanis Clement. He is from France on a project in interior Sindh so he is in Karachi these days.” Rabail introduced me to this blonde young man in a casual attire.
He seemed bizarre yet smiled courteously upon my greetings. I being subconsciously attentive of his foreign identity smiled back brightly giving him a very warm welcome to our country.
I thought of it as a great opportunity to have a foreign opinion on our social setup which I am a strong ambassador of and I am frequently found arguing in support of “OUR” values, family set up and respect for adults in our culture.
Usually I speak of West as “Others” neglecting the worth of parents, family ties and other social strengths which I proudly claim to possess.
Hence, I initiated with pride, “So Yanis, what do you say of our hospitality?”
Yanis looked a little shocked this time and he started quite straightforwardly. “People in Pakistan are apparently very much interested in foreigners and they pose welcomingly when you meet them at first.
They show as if they are genuinely keen to serve you and most of them do offer you the best of Pakistani dishes and any foreigner at this point may feel special, honored and welcomed.
Then they ask you questions with the same level of interest and it seems they are really interested in your answers but you know what?
THEY NEVER LISTEN!
It took me a while to understand his statement so I interrupted and requested him to explain. To my utter dismay, he really meant what I perceived but was not ready to accept.
“Yes”, he repeated, “People here do not listen. They show interest in you but they do not pay attention when you speak”.
I never knew that this nominal meeting would actually turn out to be an eye opener. I started observing and reflecting upon how ignorant are we in our attitudes?
And it is so unfortunate to accept that “WE DO NOT LISTEN”. Yanis actually persuaded me to state that we as a society are wired that way and it is pretty usual for majority of us to ignore all verbal and non-verbal responses, replies, expressions, opinions, explanations etc. in our routine.
And this is one of the major reasons that we are becoming violent.
The rant doesn’t end here rather it starts here. We do not listen to our kids thus we produce frustrated adults who do not know how to express themselves and later they turn out to be violent grownups becoming vulnerable to their surroundings.
Similarly, we do not listen to our teenagers, consequently we produce rebellious adults who do not know where to channelize their energies becoming delinquents.
Likewise, we do not listen to our adults thus we produce chronic complainers who do not know how to pacify people in violent situations therefore becoming a source of negativity for others.
This may not apply to all situations but the debate is not about generalizability rather it is about how our little attentiveness and an expression with “I AM LISTENING” can spread serenity.
For I believe, if we listen to each other then there will be lesser noise and more meanings in the world.