When we came back to Pakistan we started clearing some old stuff out of our house. We’re hoping to move soon so it’s a good opportunity to get rid of the clutter which, despite our best efforts, always seems to find a way into our store cupboards. It’s almost a law of physics: just as things fall to earth when you drop them, just as paper burns when you set a match to it, it is similarly inevitable that clutter will find its way into a house: rickety old tables, bags of broken toys, a sack of Urdu teaching material that I won’t be using again.
And our old pushchair. Bought from Tesco in a sale, it’s served us well. It’s travelled to several countries, has been stuffed into cars and thrown on the top of jeeps, and, as you can see above, has accommodated each of our three children at different stages. It’s also broken. We bought a replacement off eBay while we were in the UK, rendering our faithful servant null and void.
I tried to throw it out. I took it downstairs, folded it up, and placed it tenderly in the rubbish bin, before saying a few gentle words of remembrance. The rubbish collector, a friendly Christian man called Zafar, comes by each morning to take away our rubbish, sorting through it to remove anything of value and disposing of the rest. I left it there and thought no more of it.
Until the next morning, that is, when I found the pushchair neatly folded and placed on our doorstep. Zafar simply couldn’t believe that we would want to throw such a valuable thing away. It might be worth a couple of hundred rupees to the scrap metal dealer, and for a guy living on the poverty line, the thought of simply throwing that kind of money away is illogical.
No matter that we are doing it to help him, knowing that he will sell it for himself and use the money to feed his family. He’s so scrupulously honest that he keeps returning it, folded and cleaned, to our doorstep, like some kind of sacrificial offering to the wealthy Westerners who are blessed with such unthinkable wealth.