Monthly Archives: September 2009

Children for sale – Five Daughters and Two Sons!

A few days ago, I happened to pass by the Press Club, where I was attracted by a commotion gathered outside it. Of course, curiosity compelled me to go and check out what had drawn such a crowd. I could also see news reporters hurtling through the tight knot of people and furiously clicking photographs. This further gave leverage to my curiosity, and pushing aside people, I looked upon on the object of people’s interest.

What I saw saddened me greatly.

A man and a child stood in the centre. The man was bearded, and seemed quite healthy, while the child besides him was a girl of about fourteen or so. The man smiled, whereas the girl seemed lost elsewhere in her thoughts.

But a bearded man and a girl in tattered sandals are common sight these days. What attraction did these two ordinary father and daughter exude that had fascinated so much people?

That attraction was the poster the girl held in her hands.

Scribed in blue and black, it read:

“Bache baraye farokht … paanch bachiyaan aur do bete.” [Children for sale – five daughters and two sons]

I was shocked that our country and its population had stooped to such a fell state that parents were being forced to sell their own seed, so that they could feed themselves!

However, once the shock ebbed away, I didn’t appreciate what I beheld.

 a) If they were really as destitute as they posed to be, then why did the man smirk while he looked into the cameras? He was neither doing something great or accomplished.

 b) When the man was aware of his abject poverty, then why did he have 7 children? When he knew he couldn’t provide for them, then why produce 7 children?

c) If he was so indigent, then why didn’t he go and do some work? If he had so much time to brandish a banner to sell his children outside the Press Club all day long, he certainly must have had a lot of time to work and provide for his family.

d) The man actually seemed to enjoy the attention, which our “free media” was more than ready to give. They furiously clicked pictures and videoed the man about what had forced him to sell his children. I was outraged. Hell! This man is not some Katrina Kaif, nor is he doing some ramp show. It was pretty obvious that the man was a fraud and he only wanted to arouse the sympathy of the people so that they could donate him money. A clever ruse in which our media happily got into, so that they could further get a chance to discredit the already-in-shambles government.

Ha! To actually think that such a country could ever progress, whose people are so inherently corrupt and the media so exceedingly scandalous.

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“Nankurunaisa!”

“There’s so much to do. And there’s never enough time. I feel pressured and hassled all day, everyday, seven days a week….” complained Anwer Baig, as he flipped the pages of a diary frivolously.

8th August … where is it? I’d written in it myself! Where has it gone now!? For once, I’m running late for office and I can’t find the stupid things-to-do list! Where had I written it … Ahan!

Anwer Baig let out a cry of joy as he finally stumbled upon the 8th August list, though groaning as he glanced at the long list:

–          OFFICE WORK.

–         APPOINTMENT WITH MR. GHULAM MUSTAFA.

–          MEETING IN THE OLD CITY HALL.

–          SITE WORK.

–          BUY SHIRTS, SALE “CAMBRIDGE SHOP” 50% OFF, LAST DAY OF SALE.

–          BUY 3 KILO FISH, 2 KILO CHICKEN

–          BUY ITEMS FOR DOMESTIC USE, LIST ENCLOSED BEHIND.

–          APPOINTMENT WITH GHAURI ESTATE SERVICES’ DIRECTOR.

–          WEDDING OF SON OF MR HABIB, DEAL TO BE FINALIZED WITH HIM LATER, SO IMPORTANT.

–          BACK TO HOME.

Anwer snapped the black leather-bound diary shut, and flung it away, thinking that this was not to be one of his better days. Resolutely, and with great effort, he compelled himself to leave his relatively cool room, to bear the scorching heat outside.

Taking long strides in the torrid weather, he finally reached the bus stand, and joined the long queue, which patiently waited for the bus to arrive.

He marveled at his life.

He: who had secured straight A’s, who had procured a first-division MBA degree from SZABIST, now practically rotted in the battered office of a dilapidated airline?

“What did I do to deserve such a fate?” 

Perhaps I had lost the four-leaved clover when I stepped into the farce that we christen as the “real world?” … he thought ironically.

————#————#————

Anwer sat on the footpath.

Rain poured in torrents: the stifling heat preceding the storm had quite dissipated. The world was being washed, and so were the ambitions, hopes, dreams that Anwar Baig had ever cherished in his life.

He had been fired on the account of economic recession.

Though, he was an excellent worker, the authorities had told him, he lacked experience in comparison to his other colleagues and hence, he was being fired.

Bunkum! He who had been working for 2 years in the company, was slighted by a person who had just joined the airline a month back?

But then … he thought bitterly … I didn’t have an influential source behind my back.

———–#————–#———–

He had abandoned the footpath, and now strolled in the park that adjoined it.

The joyful cries of the children playing in the rain had shaken him out of his reverie. His attention diverted, he walked towards the children.

Particularly, his attention was fixated on a little girl who he had earlier espied watching him when he had established himself on the footpath, enshrouded in misery.

The little girl had been happily splashing in a puddle, whence her glance found him walking towards her.

She went rigid, her gaze frozen on him. Shades of hesitation crept up across her face.

She took a few steps back.

And, then a cheeky smile unfurled on her face and she cried out:

“It’ll work out, uncle!”

 “What did you say?” Anwer shouted back.

The girl laughed loudly, and cried again,” I said it’ll work out!”

And saying this, she turned and ran to join her friends who had attacked the swings.

A smile spread across Anwer’s countenance.

He’d wrongly believed that it was his fate that had landed him into the employment of a decrepit airline, that due to it he had lost his job … but, no, in truth his fate had had other thoughts for him.

Yes, he had to traverse a difficult path. Yes, he had to suffer through the humiliation of getting fired.

But he had learned a lot on this road: perseverance, value of hard work, tolerance to minor issues of life.

And, now fate had taught him his last lesson by the words of a little girl: how to get up when you fall down.

————#———-#————-

Note:  “Nankurunaisa!” is Japanese, meaning “It’ll work out!”

Home is not home without you …

“Amijaan, Papa is home! He is home!” shouted the child, as he flung himself on the newcomer, standing stolidly on the threshold of the door.

Upon hearing the child’s shout, an elderly woman bustled out of the kitchen, saying,” Ali, how many times do I have to tell you that Papa won’t —-“ She stopped in mid-sentence, frozen, as her shrewd glance found the new-comer.

“Ibrahim?” She uttered unbelievingly.

“Ami, Your son is back,” said the new-comer weakly, his eyes glinting in the shimmering moonlight, creeping in through the door, as tears welled in them.

The elderly woman, hurled herself into the arms of the new-comer, scolding shrilly her son now and then amidst sobs and cries: “O Ibrahim! Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you since ages! Why did you ever leave me alone, you naughty, naughty boy! You didn’t think how much anxious I’d been! No, you’d to go and leave your Ami and your child! O Ibrahim, why? Why? Why did you do so?”

The newcomer bent his face towards his mother, and pleaded softly, trying to reason with his mother,” I’m sorry, Ami, but I’d too. Prices are soaring high, Ali’s school has swelled its fees, the landlord has doubled the rent … I don’t know how I could have paid for Food, Education and Shelter from just 10,000 Rupees? It had become imperative for me to find a job in the city … or else we would have starved and you know I would never let it be so. Had the inflation not escalated so alarmingly, I’d have never left you … still, Ami I’m really very sorry,” and then added imploringly,” I hope you understand me, Ami.”

“I do understand you, my dearest,” returned his mother, as tears flowed steadily down her wizened cheeks, adding impulsively,” But, home is never home without you …”

————#—————-#————-

“Banwara mann dekhne chala ek sapna …” crooned the radio somewhere and I wondered:

 “Can we ever stop dreaming?” Dreams stab in the heart. Dreams wound the soul. Dreams puncture hopes. Yet we dream. Yet we hurt ourselves … But no … we don’t stop dreaming … we can never stop dreaming … never stop clinging to optimism … never losing hope till the last moment … never stop dreaming!

Thoughts after thought whirled through the failing mind of the shriveled lady, reclined in a couch. Beside her slept a child tranquilly, evidently unaware of the calamity that had struck his beloved father.

The withered woman clutched to a piece of paper tightly in her one hand, while the other hand clasped the remote of the television.

 The television had been switched to a news channel, which flashed consistently,” BREAKING NEWS!” blaring the following headline:

“BOMB BLAST IN KARACHI. GREAT POLITICAL LEADER HANIF DANDI ASSASSINATED. 37 REPORTED DEAD, 19 INJURED. THE CHIEF-INSPECTOR HAS CONFIRMED THE BLAST TO BE SUICIDAL.”

The piece of paper slipped from the woman’s hand, as she drifted to sleep, exhausted by her own train of thoughts, falling lightly on the matted, moldy carpet. The glass lantern cast its intermittent light on the paper, which read:

 Dear Ami, You are aware of our poverty-stricken conditions. It is our destitute state that has forced me to take this step. Do pray for my clemency, for the step I’m going to is unforgivable in the eyes of the Providence. I shall miss Ali. I love you, Ami.

Yours affectionately, Ibrahim

PS. Inside is enclosed a cheque of 5 Lakhs, the price of the step I’m going to take. Use it well.

———-#————#———

As the mobile beeped, Mr. Asghar looked at the caller id and swore loudly.

He received the call and asked gauntly,” Report me?’

“The work has been done, sir. Open your television,” returned the caller in calm tones, his calmness most agitating to Mr. Asghar.

Consequentially, Mr. Asghar did as the caller bid him to do, his face beaded with drops of perspiration. With fumbling hands, he opened the television. Every sign of apprehension, agitation, impatience and annoyance vanished from his face, as he read the headline.

“Congratulations. You have done your work well,” said Mr. Asghar joyously, as he settled himself in a comfy pouf, his face bearing a triumphant smile, as he had finally got rid of his worst political rival.

“The entire work went remarkably smooth. You see, I’d got hold of an agile one this time.” replied the caller callously.

“How much did he cost?” asked Mr. Asghar, inclined to pay as much as the caller asked, as his most precarious obstacle to the Seat of President had been removed, and so made his way to the Presidential House more unproblematic then ever.

 “5 Lakhs. He came off cheap,” replied the caller, further adding with a nefarious laugh,” He seemed desperate for money.”

“Isn’t that too less? I mean he was giving away his life, you should have paid him more,” said Mr. Asghar, ill at ease.

“Boon for boon. He gave away his life, I paid him 5 lakhs … and that is enough,” said the caller cruelly, adding cold-heartedly,” I didn’t force him. He volunteered himself. Anyhow, population growth has been troubling our country since few years. One person less, does count. Therefore, we should celebrate as we’re trying to solve our blasphemed country’s problems and fighting against overpopulation.”

Mr. Asghar laughed and said,” Your reasons are always so sound. Let us celebrate tonight.”

———–#———–#———–