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Austerity as it is seen from the other end

Hamid Ismailov Hamid Ismailov | 15:52 UK time, Friday, 11 May 2012

My mother died quite early on in my life. I was brought up by my Grandmother in a family where butter was a monthly bonus and sweets were a rare treat. My school boy uncles, who were like my brothers, would share the same pair of shoes. One uncle studied in the morning and another in the afternoon. I had the same routine with regards to a pioneer’s tie which belonged to our neighbour's boy. He used to hand it over to me when he returned from school in the morning.

My Grandmother was a funny, life-loving character and she loved to tell us jokes about a folk hero, Mullah Nasreddin. In the middle of the night, Mullah was once woken up by thieves rummaging around in his house. He asked them: 'Are you looking for something valuable in this darkness? Then you should know that we can't find it even in daylight!'

When I read about so called austerity in the Western world, I think about my Grandmother and her joke. I wrote a poem some time ago which has a connection with the theme of austerity.

One can’t lose what isn’t there.

I hammered in the stake and tied up the cow.
Perhaps I equated the rope to life
with the written words.

There is a hole at the bottom of my heart.
However many words I compressed and hurled out
this mouth of the hole never closes.

One can’t lose what isn’t there.

Before my eyes are the clouds of grass.
This too will one day disperse.
That’s all, enough now, I say.

We sucked the unboiled milk of a pure dream.
Clamping the heart we smeared blood.
Flying up into the blue we fell to earth.

The tongue grinds and the ears don’t hear.

One can’t lose what isn’t there.
One can’t lose what isn’t there.

What I was saying was not something extraordinary or exclusive. I could have written another 'Gavroch' or 'Oliver Twist'. I know that at least half of the world’s population live the same kind of life, where a slice of bread and a glass of water is their daily menu. I'm not promoting universal poverty but trying to look at so called austerity from a different perspective.

Something must be wrong with the world when we are obsessed with wealth, where the top individuals in the Forbes Rich Lists have bigger assets than entire nations, where media attention is disproportionately skewed to bonuses and pay-offs for bankers rather than to those for whom austerity is a normal way of life.

As my Grandmother would say: It's the world built up from the roof rather than from the foundations.

She would tell another parable about a man who thought that a room, where he lived, was too small for him. The same Mullah Nasreddin advised him: 'Throw a party and invite your relatives for a day. Then call your neighbours and their children and get a couple of passers-by to pop in. When all of them leave your house, you will see how big your room really is.'

While attending a fair, Socrates once said: 'So many things, which I don't need'.
The world of exponential growth is rather like an enticing and indulging fair. Maybe it is time to follow suit in the footsteps of wise men and come back to basics by trying to rebuild ourselves in this world on the basis of what we really need.


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