I am an ordinary man. A very ordinary man… Not unlike the many you see everyday. I am the same man who elected you to power a few years back; I am the same man who chose you as my representative. I am the same man whom you have conveniently forgotten.
Today, I choose to remind you that I still exist.
I live a humble life. I wake up each day and brace myself to face the challenges before me. I travel through roads that are so badly maintained, it makes me wonder where all of my taxes go. As I avoid pothole after pothole, my eyes are invariably drawn to a heap of garbage which has not been attended to for over a week. I pass by a lake each day; it was once famous for the refuge it provided to over a 1,000 migratory birds; today, all that lies before me is a swamp filled with chemicals. This dangerous concoction occasionally bubbles up as froth, which is carried by the wind to a playground used by a school close by. I hear the children sing our national anthem. The putrid air does not defeat them. Nothing can ever defeat them… for they are armed with hope. Hope can be a great weapon. As I was growing up, I had a lot of hope too. But I must congratulate you. You have taken away all the hope I ever had. I am unarmed now and stand defenceless.
I wake up at sunrise and toil till it sets. I am the same man who ploughs the field. I am the same man who sweeps your street. I am the same man who drives an auto rickshaw. I am the same man who tends to patients in their illness. I am the same man who earns valuable foreign exchange. I am the same man who guards my country’s frontiers.
I am the same man who is stuck in traffic for many hours each day, only because my city is so poorly planned. I am the same man who wades through knee deep water when it rains, only because my city’s drains are clogged. I am the same man who sits beside an ailing relative in an ambulance, worrying about whether I may even reach a hospital in time. I am the same man who cannot afford food or medicines for everything is suddenly so expensive. I can only afford to send my children to a government school knowing fully well that our education system is so flawed that it will never allow them to compete in this fierce world. I am the very same man.
However, there is one thing I am sure of… I am not the same as you.
I am not the man who schemes. I am not the man who shouts meaningless slogans. I do not have the courage to divide my people. I cannot be as corrupt and neither can I be a sycophant. I cannot fight to only prove a point. And for one, I can never leave my people in despair.
As I watch you fight your petty battles in the temple of our democracy, I oft ask myself – are you my representative? How can you be, when you and I are so different? I have never heard you discuss the problems I face? I have never seen you walk the streets that I take each day. You never have to worry about where your next meal would come from. You never have to worry about the shelter over your head. You never have to worry about the water you drink. You spend your present fighting about events that took place in our past, gambling away my future without a wrinkle of worry on your brow. You make promises each time only to break them just as often. You mock my intelligence and test my resilience.
As time flies by, you push me into despair. I worry about my country and her future. I worry about the lives of the millions like me. My childhood was an age of hope… my life now is that of skepticism and I pray that my future, is not that of cynicism. I urge upon you do so something. It is not too late yet.
– In the hope of a better tomorrow.
An ordinary man.