KARACHI: “Inflation has risen to intolerable levels now; if we don’t take to the streets now, what other option do we have?” asked an elderly lady during a recent political show and protest against spiralling prices of everyday items.

A resident of Paposh Nagar, she stood on the road for three hours, wiping sweat from her face as the humidity increased. “I have arthritis and my knees hurt. I can’t sit down for long,” she said every time someone offered her a chair. “My son was reluctant to bring me here as the price of petrol had gone up, but I insisted. I even managed to convince the rickshaw driver to attend the protest,” she said, keeping a watchful eye on her young grandchildren.

She was one of the hundreds of elderly ladies — “political late bloomers” who spent their entire lives taking care of their families —who passionately chanted slogans against inflation.

Many women Dawn spoke to shared stories of how inflation and rising fuel prices were hitting their families hard; from cutting down on meat and fruits to drastically slashing expenses and using less electricity, each had a story to share about sons, daughters, and grandsons losing jobs or suffering pay cuts in recent times.

The most heart-wrenching stories were told by those who are having to compromise on medical treatment, drugs and — in some cases — cutting down on the use of adult diapers for their bed-ridden parents or themselves.

“There is hardly any energy left at our age. This inflation is robbing us of dignity,” said Mrs M, a woman in her 60s, accompanied by her frail husband.

“We don’t have children. Whatever little savings we have are in National Savings. With this rising inflation, it is impossible to run the house and manage our medical bills,” the former school teacher said.

“The way things are at this point, the destruction of the country is imminent and we cannot and must not be silent witnesses of this downward spiral,” said Dr S*, a senior specialist at a private hospital.

“More and more [apolitical] people now want to join protests,” says Rasha Tarek, a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf supporter.

“With rising prices, it’s impossible for most people. We felt Khan was doing a good job. People have to come out of their drawing rooms and express themselves, not just complain. Unless they do that, there won’t be any change.”

Gajri Jamal, a cheerful transwoman who was begging for alms near a neon-lit ThaCola stall, told Dawn: how, since the cost of living was going up, people were less and less inclined to give money, and the government was not helping trans-people either.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2022

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