The Wretched Of The Earth.

The recent spell of monsoon rains has literally wreaked havoc in more than half of the country. It has destroyed almost entire Balochistan, lower Punjab, parts of KPK and Upper Sindh. While the devastation may be more gruesome in other parts of the country, this piece focuses on Sindh and discusses how the rains have unleashed huge destruction, thereby creating an environment of panic and fear.

When the 8th spell of rains entered Sindh, I was in Matoo, a historical village 20 km in the east of Larkana. The people of my area became worried sick because they had already witnessed 7 spells of the monsoon rains in the past 2 months. The houses they were living in had weakened to the extent that they were collapsing on their own. They could no longer withstand the next spell. I remember how houses were caving in when it was raining on the night of 24 August. Dozens of cemented houses fell down in my village that night. The situation was no different in the other parts of upper Sindh, which includes Sukkur, Khairpur, Shikarpur and Kashmor.

Out of fear and harassment, most of the people of these areas had started moving to lower Sindh even before the onset of the 8th spell. The attractive destinations for them were Hyderabad and Karachi, as these are the biggest cities in Sindh, and as almost each household has a family member living there.

As a result of people's attempts to flee the upper Sindh, the vehicles who could help them move became short in supply. As happens in every emergency, the fares shot through the roof. The vehicle owners and drivers started charging extortionate amounts. Normally, it costs Rs. 6,000-7,000 to book a 1.3 CC car from Larkana to Hyderabad. However, it cost more than Rs. 20,000 to hire a cab. The people who had their own conveyances or were well-off had little difficulty travelling. But the wretched of the earth, the poor, had no cash to finance their travel. So, they had had to sell their cattle and jewellery for very little amount just to make it to safer places. Some of villagers sold their cattle heads for dime a dozen, and vacated the village with that meagre amount, not knowing how would they get their next meal.


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