By: Javeria Qazi
“Mom why is everyone crying at Abdul Sattar Edhi’s death? He was just an ordinary man,” I questioned my mom. She turned back to look at me and then said with a smile, “Beta he was not an ordinary man, no one can match his efforts in saving thousands of lives. He was the sole operator of one of the largest charity networks in the country. He worked tirelessly for the sick, the needy, the orphans, the widows in spite of his ill health,” my mom replied but I was still confused. I opened my mouth to ask her another question but as I tried to speak my elder sister, Amna, broke in, “Oh mom, she keeps asking silly questions all the time and nothing gets into her fat brain.” She took a bite of her snack. I gave her a furious look but she started laughing. My mom tried to control her smile and then pretending to be angry said, “Amna, you shouldn’t say that. What is wrong if she is trying to seek some knowledge? And I like answering her questions.” My mom scolded her and she became silent. “Ok, so what were you asking me about Abdul Sattar Edhi?” Mom asked me. “Mom, there are several other charity organizations and donors who are working for the betterment of the poor and sick, but they do not enjoy the same love and respect that Edhi had. Why Edhi mom? It may be because he is dead and people get more respect after they die, but even when he was alive, the level of respect and status he got was tremendous,” I said looking at my mom’s face. She was listening to me with complete attention. I thought if it had been my sister she would have been quite irritated by now but my mom was so calm, even though she had to leave her house chores to answer my queries. Mom cleared her throat and said, “Beta let me tell you all about Edhi, right from his early life and then you can decide whether he was worthy of this respect or not.” “That’s great,” I replied. “Ok then,” she continued. “He was born in 1928 in a small village, Bantva, near Joonagarh, (Gujrat). When he was eleven years old, his mother became paralyzed and later became mentally ill. Her terrible condition left a lasting impression on young Edhi. His studies got affected and at this point he decided to take the responsibility of all those in pain, on his weak shoulders. His whole life he stuck to that decision. Because only the person who has been inflicted with pain can understand the feelings of those who suffer. His mother’s condition made him think of thousands of those people who had no one to look after them. He thought of the inhuman treatment meted out to the mentally ill, the senseless and the disabled persons. Even at an early age, he felt personally guilty and took on the challenge of establishing a system of services to cut human troubles. Only few people exist in the world who think in this way and have so much determination and dedication for a cause. But he had nothing to start from. He started with the little money he had and finally opened the Edhi Center. He worked day and night and gave all his energies for the cause and ended up with his network expanding all over the country. His ambulance service was what this huge city of Karachi desperately needed. Young men volunteered as drivers and soon you could hear the sirens as the ambulances raced to hospitals carrying the sick and wounded. It was the greatest thing anyone could have done. His ambulance service was gradually extended to all the cities of Pakistan. For that alone the people of our country are highly indebted to him,” Mom fell silent and things made sense now. My Mom looked at me and continued, “Beta this is the reason why he was called Angel of Mercy and was the most respected man in Pakistan and even in the world. Let me tell you about an incident concerning your father. Your father told me that once he had to go to the hospital. There he saw Edhi sahib coming down from the stairs even though the lifts were there and were working properly. Your dad’s friend asked him why he was not using the lift even when he had pain in his legs. His answer left him amazed. He said, ‘The lifts are for patients. Why should I use them when I am not a patient?’ This clearly defines his character. He loved the people and was loved in return,” she finished. By this time my elder sister had finished her snack and was also listening with full concentration. “He was a real hero of our nation,” she said, admiringly. I looked at my sister and it was my turn to laugh because she had classified my questions as being senseless.
“He spend all his life serving others
and his burial was that of a king.”