Nasim Ahmed, a journalist, philanthropist and social worker from Pakistan has seen everything from the India-Pakistan partition to the takeover of technology. His opinion on the coronavirus pandemic is reflective of his experience throughout life, whether that be in terms of socialising or in the context of the economy. We, at Redefy, interviewed him to understand how this pandemic has impacted him, his work and his life in general.
Living in Lahore, one of the most densely populated cities in Pakistan, Ahmed said that he had “never experienced anything like the coronavirus before” and that it had completely changed his perspective on life. The uncertainty that surrounds pretty much each and every aspect of our lives is something we have all been struggling with and despite having experienced civil wars, communal riots and migration, Ahmed agreed that this situation is beyond all others. He described how throughout his fifty years of work-life, he has never spent more than a day at home. Keeping busy had always been his way of life and now, he finds himself searching for things to do.
Despite this change in his life routine, Ahmed noted that he has found “ample time to think, introspect, recall past memories and ruminate about the future.” Recently, he spent time with his family, scattered across the world, on a massive video call. He recalls telling his grandchildren stories of their childhood, a time when everyone could meet, travel, work. He also discussed how we have learned to make the best of the situation; we don’t spend time unnecessarily in malls, lingering around shops and wasting money on things we don’t really need. The lockdown, he mentioned, is a blessing in disguise and a way nature has employed to slow our fast-paced lives down.
Having seen life in its most intense forms, Ahmed still said that there is nothing at all that he can compare with the coronavirus pandemic. In his words: “Suddenly, everything appears to be fragile, illusory and empty. You are not sure about the next moment.” Over this time, many of us have found new hobbies, acquired new skills and made way for things we used to neglect, like mental health. Ahmed has also caught up on his study, writing two books and working on his magazine, The Consul. His involvement in human rights work and other social causes has always been extensive, and his two books focus on the same. He has also spent much time working with NGOs and putting together schools in Pakistan. While the world is at a standstill, he refuses to let such pivotal issues see pause. He continues to work remotely, like the rest of us, making sure that jobs that need to be done, are done.