By Fareeha Qayoom
We got the electricity bill two days before deadline for August. Nothing unusual in that. We always do.
The (electricity) bills didn’t make sense. They never do.
Excessive units were charged on them. Nothing odd about that either. They always do.
The rates charged were PKR 18.00 per unit. That’s normal as well. They increase the rates arbitrarily every three months – the more units, the higher electricity rates charge, more money in the government’s kitty. Nothing odd about that either.
The only strange thing this time around was the number of units marked on the bills –which had been tripled (or may be quadrupled?); usually, they sneak in two hundred or three hundred units per bill – this time, they had sneaked in a good hefty 1858 units extra…(about 40Kworth extra in monetary terms).
At this point, you would think – Why me God? We have been selected because we live in DHA. (Running the same amount of appliances in other areas of Lahore can cost you about 20K max in electricity bills – I know because I did an informal survey once – we get that kind of bill in the winter months!) Classic Robin Hood syndrome – DHA is fair game as popular perception has it that only rich folk live here. Unfortunately, stereotypes and perceptions are not facts. We are not rich – electricity bills always make us uncomfortable. Our income might not match the bills charged but we have to pay them regardless. Beg, borrow or steal – not their problem. Successive change of governments doesn’t change this reality either.
Nothing odd about that either. Somebody has to pay for the inefficiencies, lines losses, mistakes, corruption, negligence, and God knows what.
LESCO refuses to allow installments, reduce the number of units (even if you can prove that they are cheating) which you can never do because they are a monopoly. They refuse to even check their equipment or reprimand their personnel for shoddy billing or check the line losses. They might make you write applications to register your complaints but nothing ever happens in response to them. It’s all an act to appease you and get you out of their face.
Load shedding doesn’t help – energy saver bulbs don’t help. Running one air conditioner (per bill) doesn’t help. Nothing helps. My brother thinks the only option left open to us is to invest in equipment that can help generate our own indigenous electricity no matter what it costs. In the long run, it will be cheaper than buying electricity from the government…
Why am I writing this rant anyway if all this is an exercise in futility? Because today my eldest sister said something really funny – after we returned from the LESCO office in yet another abject failure; she said, “Fareeha, pray, Khan (and Qadri) succeed. At least Imran Khan is not corrupt.” I found her statement beyond hilarious.
I subscribe to the point of view that “Shareef admi wo hai jisay moka nahi mila” ‘Laga rah!’ by Shahzad Roy. (Translation – “morally upright person is the one who has not yet got an opportunity”).
Put any person with any kind of ‘moral’ backbone in a position of power – chances are he will bend out of shape in no time flat. Scale doesn’t matter.
People like to wield power, no matter how minor, (yes, from peons to chief executives, everyone likes power) which leads to wide scale corruption, anarchy and chaos. Take our roads and traffic behavior as an example – what’s true for micro scale is true for macro scale as well.
We live in capitalistic times. The only religion is acquiring capital by any means necessary, by hook or by crook. Instant Self- gratification is the winner’s mantra. Wealth equals power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. History is littered with stories of folk who let power go to their head.
There is no such thing as a morally upright ‘man’ in our times anyway.
And we know for a fact that Angel Gabriel will not be visiting this earth again bringing another message from God. The process ended with the last prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H). God will not be sending another savior or ‘Messiah’ to save the faithful/believers. Please.
Imran Khan and Qadri are not the answer. They are only human and fallible and subject to the same human frailties as the rest of us including stupidity and arrogance. When the dust settles, history will record that they were only rabble rousers.
So no, next election I will not be changing my vote. I will abstain. I am done.