I didn’t choose to be poor

Published: February 26, 2013

She questioned,did the rich work hard and the poor didn’t? PHOTO: AFP

A small hand knocks at the car window, gazing inside with hungry yet penetrating grey eyes.

Her round face is overshadowed by her tousled dusty mane, the paleness of the skin now brown with dirt and dust. Her fragile body moves in a huge shabby sweater twice her size. She stands on her toes as the ground is too cold for her naked feet.

The December fog has covered her, the wind piercing into her skin. She scratches her head and knocks again staring at the faces in the car.

Three faces of little girls glare back at her, as they sit cosily in the car, windows sealed, huddled up in thick coats and mufflers. Their vacant eyes gaze at her cold, numb body but they stay still as if they are staring into white mist.

She opens her mouth, spilling several words at the same time, narrating the story of her dead father and a sick mother.

The three faces now turn away staring at the other side as if something marvellous is happening there.

Her frostbitten cold feet run quickly to the other side, knocking on the other window intensely.

They move their hands swiftly and her frown vanishes as she raises her hand, spreading her palm for money but instead they lock their car doors quickly.

Her grey eyes lose their colour as, she stares at these little girls, she moans but no voice comes out. Breathing heavily, her small feet go some paces forward on the main road.

Settling on the frozen ground, she looks around and sees many like her standing at the cars, waiting, knocking, and trying and in the end crying.

She moves to the other side of the road, settling herself on the cold ground. Her mind is boggled as she thinks of her life and the life of the rich.

Did the rich work hard and the poor didn’t?

But, what about the kids who are born in the rich families, surely they didn’t work hard for that.

So is it just fate then?

Suddenly, the clouds disperse and a ray of sunshine gleams through the clouds.

Her cold, numb body softens as she feels the warmth of the sun. Her mouth curves into a smile as she knows that God has heard her plea and it’s a sign that tomorrow would be a better day.

Shahla Hameed

Shahla Hameed

A Mass Communication from NUST Islamabad, Shahla loves to read and has a passion for sketching and drawing.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Talha

    Excellent article Shahla. The only issue I have is that undue transition you have made from a utmost realism to a wishful idealism in the last two paras. The sad part is, her plea is never always listened too – and her feet remain cold as long as the winter thrives. Recommend

  • Ali Gul

    very well written may God Bless us all !!! Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    The poor breed the fastest, cannot look after their kids or educate them either. In India even free condoms and incentives for sterilization have not really worked. A system of disincentives has to be introduced because unlike China no other country has been able to show the big stick.Recommend

  • gv


    So what would you propose Feroz Sahib ? Shall we organise compulsory vasectomies ala Indira Gandhi next door or would you rather line them up in rows and gas them?

    Pray enlighten us ? Recommend

  • Parvez

    Nicely done.
    Answer I feel is ‘ Do bachae hi achae ‘…………….inject it into our education system and educate / coerce those who command the pulpit to spread the word.Recommend

  • Amer

    @Feroz: So, your argument is that these children who knock on your window while at a traffic light should never have been born in the first place? What a pathetic way to look at society! Why don’t you consider the root causes first and why does everything have to be solved with population control? Would you like to have less number of poor in the country? would decreasing the number of poor resolve the problem of poverty?
    Has China controled poverty with it’s one child policy? Only idiots come up with solutions like yours! Recommend

  • Turbo Lover

    Very emotional article, loved it.Recommend

  • http://TheExpressTribuneBlogs DESMOND CARLTON

    A very emotional piece. God Bless us all !!!Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    Since I am not a politician I will not try to be politically correct. I presume all are educated enough to understand that uncontrolled population growth is not sustainable with the current finite resources on Earth. We have over exploited all available resources, polluted the planet and made thousands of animal species extinct. While the population of most species keep falling, we keep producing.
    Come on guys, this is not some stud competition going on. The human species seems to be the only one having sex for pleasure not merely procreation, which is fine but we have the means to control population. Education is the key to control it When I called for disincentives what I meant was to limit social welfare benefits to families having two kids, cut off the incentive tap in every way for those exceeding the limit. Instead of holding grand conferences on population control, simply cut the freebies. Sure many countries still give incentives for sterilization which must continue alongside distribution of free condoms, pills etc — but this may not be enough.
    I feel really sorry to see kids begging or working instead of being in school studying and playing. Why do these kids have a lost childhood when the fault is of the parents who simply are not capable or responsible. It is not a crime to be poor and their is dignity even in the most menial labour, however humans have been given the intelligence to make choices and we need to make those choices responsibly. Recommend

  • Stranger

    I think instead of emotions , we should focus on practicality. Recommend

  • Sunny Sidhu

    No, Please do not give money to these kids, instead give your vote to the real leaders who can make better polices and give these kids same opportunities as the girls in the car have.You have Imran Khan but we Indians do not ave any. Please vote carefully!Recommend

  • Ayla khattak

    This touched my heart! and let me tell you i officially love you<3Recommend

  • Bakhtawar Salik

    Beautiful piece of writing Shahla!!
    I so agree with you Feroze!!! You should have kids when you can provide for them!!Recommend

  • Muhammad Hassan

    Nice article.
    There are symbols or signs for those who think.
    This article expresses the feelings of poor very well and motivates others to help them.Recommend

  • Saba

    Very well written blog however the ending bout ‘hope’ is really hopeless. The little girl is goin to grow up as a beggar n eventually die as a beggar cz that’s what fate n her parents have chosen for her. The parents r pathetic who not only choose this disrespectful path.for themselves but also massacre the childhood and selfrespect of their little ones by using them for this malignant profession. There are a number of Jobs a person can do even if he/she is uneducated. Poverty is not a flaw but begging is!Recommend

  • kinza

    Nice Read, well done! (Y)Recommend

  • ismail ansari

    very well written i often write songs about same kind of topics but my friends doesn’t like it because my style is RAP/HIP HOP.Recommend

  • Deepak

    Nice written and really touchyRecommend