Mine is Mine and Yours is yours
(adjective). 1.eager to dominate00 wishing to control
somebody exclusively or to be the sole object of somebody's love (disapproving)
2. selfish tending not to share possessions with
others 3. of ownership relating to ownership e.g.
Back in class
four, we had this torture of a textbook in English class. A Way to
English, as far as my memory cells can recollect. There was a story
called "A Miraculous Pitcher"; a story divided into several
It was about a
poor, old couple who once entertained some tired travellers who stopped
at their doorstep with the limited amount of what they had to offer.
I wasn't impressed. At the raw age of ten, appreciating fictional
hospitality wasn't a built-in feature. Years later, maybe my sense
of acknowledging the absence of some things I read about almost a
decade back is more acute. That story may not have been registered
as the testament of some linguistic achievement, but looking back,
I realise the old couple has left me impressed.
enough, I didn't happen to grow up in some quaint hamlet where miracles
took place. I grew up in a bustling capital, where my air-conditioned
mode of transport placed me in the better of the two worlds that existed.
The glass of my car window separated me from sunburnt kids my age
selling wilting flowers, cheap candies and colourful magazines. It
kept me away from a world of floating germs, from a world of poverty,
abusive fathers, diseased mothers, starving siblings. This side of
the glass was my world; the upholstery of the comfortable car seats
my domain. This was mine. What existed on the other side was theirs.
I grew up in a
country where people slept on the sidewalk where on rare occasions
I walked upon. Kids the age of my little brother worked for hours
in construction sites while he went to school and came home to his
GI Joe's. While I was reading books borrowed from the British Council
in a frenzied haze, girls my age who could not spell their own name
walked alone at night, harassed by men. Men and women the age of grandparents
begged with dented steel bowls in hands while music blared on Discmans.
It doesn't take
a rocket scientist to identify that there's something missing here.
That there's a gap here. A big, wide, gaping hole that separates you
and me from them. What's amazing about human nature is its power to
ignore. And ignore we do, every day, for day after day. Ignore the
gap that no one is willing to bridge; for we were brought up in a
world where, what's mine is mine and yours is yours.
Forget the fact
that our rail station plays home to so many of the homeless. Forget
the fact that the meal you consume in one day is the meal consumed
by a family of four in a week. Forget it all. Let's take a look somewhere
closer to home. The family living next door, or on the floor above
yours. You know they have a widescreen television bought only last
November. You know that Mr and Mrs X are the richest couple in the
building. But when was the last time you were neighbourly in the true
sense of the word? We barely greet our own neighbours; let alone offer
to help the family who we've known for twelve years when they're moving.
The walls separating an apartment from another apartment divide us
into two; where once again, their lives don't involve us just like
our lives don't involve them. Gone are days of sociability and hospitality;
elements existing between every neighbour. We live with them years
after years, share elevators, stairs, a common entrance, parking space
and at the end of it all, keep ourselves strangely distant. Their
grief and joy are as unfamiliar to us as the random stranger's on
the street. There's no difference between sharing a roof with a family
for ten years and a family you've been looking at for ten minutes.
The same applies
for news articles. 15 year old girl raped in the city. 12 year old
boy missing. Body parts of a schoolboy gruesomely packed in a school
bag which maybe your little cousin has a replica of. A temporary hype;
easily forgotten and lost in the blur of thousands of unsolved murder
At one point,
it has stopped mattering. It's become only another statistic, another
coffee-room topic of discussion. It hasn't happened to you or anyone
you love; it's happened to some face you've never seen before the
newspaper photograph, and therefore, by some unwritten law, a matter
that's none of your concern. News of brutalities can shock us at the
most, but deaths of innocent children don't touch us. We let go of
the grief, thinking it's only for the family to mourn; it's theirs,
not ours. It's yours, not mine.
on the wall of an honest man who's spent his life savings to build
a wall protecting a house he owns. Election graffiti with fake promises
of alleviating poverty. Littering on a street thinking it's not my
street that I should take care of it. The street belongs to you; someone
I have never seen. Blaring horns mercilessly in front of a hospital
where an old woman is giving her last breath; she's someone related
to you and not me. Highlighting library books with fluorescent colours
thinking it's not my book.
dump toxic chemicals into a river thinking it's not your river, it's
someone else's. You ignore the sight of a starving kid begging for
a dirty note that will buy him his meal and life, because the kid's
not your kid or your brother. You ignore the pleas of white-haired,
wrinkled men and women asking you to grant them another day to live
in the world, because they're not yours and I ignore them because
they're not mine.
The gap widens
every second. With every back turned. With every cry ignored. With
every thought of 'Someone else will do it, I don't need to bother'.
The gap widens as you wrap your college applications up, thinking
of flying away to a foreign land and never returning.
The gap widens
as you elect undeserving men and women to power. The gap widens as
you use what should have been your tax money to buy yourself a holiday
to Switzerland. But more than our actions that cause this gap to widen;
the gap widens mostly due to our inactions. For we are a possessive
generation and what's mine is only mine and yours is only yours.