Yet to invent a vaccine, yet to find a cure by Gulnar Raheem Khan


The pen is mightier than the sword, or is it?  Can we take this age old adage seriously, I cannot say. But I can name a book which proved mighty enough to contribute to the causes of a civil war. This book made you cry, cry out in pain, the pain not of a flog, but of a prick, the prick of the hitherto latent and complacent conscience, a conscience that got roused on reading about the inhuman conditions of slaves, slaves who were dehumanized to endure the abysmal conditions of life, a life of subjugation inflicted upon them by their masters; while the fact was that it was these inhuman masters who had been dehumanized so as to treat fellow human beings brutally like animals or  machines. “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe contributed to the causes of a civil war between the North and the South in United States of America, and ultimately to a change in laws, thereby abolishing slavery.
But the plague of arrogance and supremacy exists to this day. The discrimination among men, leading to the subjugation of the poor by the rich, the weak by the strong, the coloured by the whites, the ‘lower caste’ by the ‘upper caste’, and on the basis of religion, continues to divide humanity. World literature is rife with books that have been written with this discrimination as the central or the incidental theme. “Beloved” by Toni Morrison, that depicts the escape and capture of a slave Sethe, won the Nobel Prize, while “Roots, the Saga of an American family” is a Pulitzer winner. Aeons earlier, it was with the support of her master that Phillis Wheatley was able to publish her book, “Hang a Thousand Trees with Ribbons” thereby becoming the first Black published poet. “Wuthering Heights”, “Gone with the Wind” and “Huckleberry Finn”, to mention a few, deal with the theme of slavery peripherally.
Hitler’s belief of Aryan supremacy, and his sense of hierarchy with Jews, Gypsies and Blacks at the bottom, is described in his ‘Mein Kempf’. In contrast to this, we see ‘The Long Road to Freedom’ by Nelson Mandela, who spent twenty seven years in jail for his crusade against discrimination.
Being thrown off a train for travelling by first class, triggered our Mahatma Gandhi’s struggle for equality and freedom as we see in his “The Story of My Experiments with Truth”.  Gandhi lived and he died for the cause of equality and unity, and for eliminating discrimination in the name of caste, colour and religion or wealth.
A master storyteller in Hindi, Munshi Prem Chand, pulls at our heart strings in his short story, ‘Sava ser Gahu’ in which a poor farmer borrows 1.163 kilos of wheat from a money lender, and ends up having to repay 46 kilos of wheat, failing which his future generations have to become bonded slaves to the money lender.
People keep dying, some in death, some in life, because of the false sense of superiority of man over man. Man fails to realize that “Golden lads and lasses must, as chimney sweeps come to dust’ as William Shakespeare observed.
Robert Burns wept that “man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn”, and that is the reason, quoting Martin Luther King Junior, “Why we can’t wait”, to end this vicious pandemic of all times.

Mrs. Gulnar Raheem Khan is a retired bank officer. She writes short stories and poetry, several of which have been published in many anthologies. She holds a Master’s in English Literature.

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