resistance, a quieter shade of

We worked closely during the lawyers’ movement, he radicalised me, as well as a whole group of “mummy-daddy” kids, set precedents we could not shirk away from. He even went to jail, got beaten up by the police. We learned together to deal with tear gas in protests, with terrified parents, with setbacks during mobilisation efforts. He taught us courage on so many different levels and he practised his belief in his fallibility – which, again, forced us to confront ours.
Then, he went quiet, seemed to retreat from the public sphere.
A few days ago, he finally let me in on a small initiative he’s taken and sustained for the last several years: preventing wastage of water. If he sees leaky taps in a bazaar, he has them replaced. If in a mosque, he talks to the in-charge to have it fixed, offering to pay for it. At his workplace as well as within the extended family, he has quietly worked to remind people of the criticality of saving water, and when someone becomes interested, it gives him the opportunity to talk about other non-renewable resources and the naked plunder that our “created needs” have led to.
He knows that Lahore’s main aquafer is of the non-replenishing kind, so he knows we’re sitting on a time-bomb. He doesn’t have the resources to launch a massive media campaign on the issue, he’s too wary of potential pitfalls to set up a bureaucracy (a trust or an NGO) to work on this issue, but he’s found ways to make a solid contribution.
This is my way of making his effort known. His identity is not so important, but this cause and his bottom-up pedagogy are critical.
My hope is that readers will reflect and be inspired to engage with the “small issues” that our frustration with ineffectiveness at grander scales leads us to ignore.

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