The other day, while enjoying a day off from work, our hired domestic help, who is a widow with two dependant male children, walked up to me with tears streaming down her poverty lined face. It appeared that she had been denied her share of Zakat because she was unable to go through the complicated formalities and personal appearances that provided access to this elusive pittance. While I took it upon myself to get the poor woman her rights, the episode set me off on a journey through the Land of the Pure, with my three travelling companions - Frustration, Anger and Shame. Needing to quench our thirst, we stopped at a facility thoughtfully provided by the authorities and became part of a throng of citizens fighting amongst themselves to fill containers from a leaking pipeline that spewed water on a round the clock basis. Glancing around us, we spotted a nearby store where other good citizens were blissfully buying chilled bottled mineral water unaware of the activity taking place just a few hundred meters away. The sun being at its zenith and directing its full wrath on the hot and weary, we decided to rest awhile in the house of a friend. Unable to find his abode, we halted at dilapidated dwelling to seek assistance. Stepping into the one roomed structure was like crossing the threshold into hell - we had arrived in the middle of a 12-hour loadshedding exercise. We were lucky that the old woman knew where our host lived and offered to guide us there. Soaked to the skin in sweat and almost at the end of our tether due to heat, we were greeted at the front door by a blast of cold air that swept our discomfort away as if it had never existed. I watched the old woman standing behind us in the doorway, eyes closed in ecstasy trying to soak in as much of the coolness in the few seconds allowed to her before she returned to the oven she called home. As we entered the lavish home I heard the muted sound of a large generator somewhere in the back. Afternoon found us walking through a fashionable area with broad streets lined with shops selling groceries, designer clothes and restaurants. As we stood in front of an ice cream parlour, intimidated by the pricelist, we saw a family happily emerge from the enticing interior, holding large sundaes in their hands. A movement behind a nearby trash can caught our eye and we spied a small figure, unwashed and dressed in tatters, staring longingly at the frozen desserts. Suddenly one of the children tripped and dropped his sundae on the pavement. The family trooped right back and emerged with a bigger treat, cast a disdaining glance at the urchin. The young lad from behind the trash can cautiously approached the half melted mess on the pavement and began scooping up the remains into his mouth. A citizen had found his piece of cake while searching for a few crumbs of bread. Entering a thoroughbred Pakistani bank we were greeted by some empty seats whose incumbents were busy chatting and having tea with their colleagues. Since I am a senior citizen by all counts, I walked over to a window facilitating the likes of me and found that there was nobody on the other side. Having failed to locate the missing bank employee, we trooped into the managers office and complained to him. We were horrified when we were told that the sign was just a decoration and that I with my white hair and bad knees should get into the long queue of jostling and irate individuals and await my turn. This was dj vu as just a day earlier I had been denied parking space reserved for the elderly by a young man whose sole character attribute appeared to be arrogance. At this point in our journey we were joined by another old but lately elusive friend - Hope. He brought tidings that at least two of our institutions were alive and well. The judges were fearlessly righting wrongs and the armed forces were busy securing our inner and outer frontiers, without any other ambitions. With a prayer on our lips for the continued well being of our judiciary and soldiers, we returned home saying farewell to our friends. And as I lay my head on the pillow, a voice seemed to say: Sleep well my friend and fear not, for as long as there is one honest citizen committed to turn Jinnahs dream into reality, there is hope. The writer is a freelance columnist.