An entrepreneur in the making at Sunday bazaar

Published: December 13, 2011

Dressed in rags and selling bags for a living, the young boy was one of the happiest people I have ever met PHOTO: BANARAS KHAN/EXPRESS FILE

For as long as I can remember I have been a regular visitor at Sunday bazaar. I love to see the interesting mix of people, some haggling, some in awe of the vast variety of goods on offer, some merely strolling through.This Sunday was no different. I woke up bright and early and decided to hit the bazaar.

I think I was a little too eager – stalls were being set up when I arrived.

“No problem,” I thought to myself. “I’ll just observe as they set up.”

As I was walking though the aisles, I saw a merry young boy, no older than nine or 10 years old, counting his shopping bags and arranging them according to colour and type. So meticulous was he, that I found myself gravitated towards his movements. I decided to stop and have a chat with him.

I greeted him with an “Assalam-o-Alaikum” and he started. I guess he wasn’t used to people paying much attention to him, so he stared at me curiously, eyes darting, like he thought I was totally out of my mind.  He warmed up to me after I smiled and asked what he was doing. The chatty young boy proceeded to tell me about his life. Such were his struggles, and such was his happy and positive countenance, that I felt compelled to share his story. So below, in his words, is the story of Ahmed, the boy with the bags.

“My name is Ahmed, and I live in the slums near the Islamic University. It has been two years since we moved there. I have never been to school and have no intentions of ever going – I am very smart and happy the way I am. I have two younger brothers. My baba is a push-cart vendor while my mother stays home and cooks food for us. My other brothers work with my father and I work alone here.”

When I asked: “Why don’t you work with your baba?”

He stated with a puffed chest: “I’m much smarter than them, and I can make more money alone without them pestering me.”

He continued: “I started working at Sunday bazaar some time ago. Before this I was helping my father. I purchase bags from an uncle and sell them here. On average I make around Rs1,000 on Sundays and Rs700 on Tuesdays and Fridays. Sometimes people pay me extra and I readily accept their tips. I generally spend this money on cold drinks or chaatMai chaat boht shooq se khaata hoon  (I love eating chaat).”

“Money is good in this business. I am my own boss and work only three days a week. Other days I play cricket in the slums. I recently purchased my own bat from the bazaar thanks to an aunty who gave me a Rs500 note for no reason. Maybe she thought I was good-looking, many people say that,” he said, grinning and winking at me.

“Now I can bat for longer periods because the bat is mine and if someone tries to act bossy, I run away with it.”

He proceeded to tell a darker story: “Some people try to take advantage of me especially when I am on my way home. This is why I go home with six boys now. One of them went missing on a Sunday and came back with Rs2,000. He doesn’t want to talk about it though,” said Ahmed with a shrug, and a subtle glance around him to make sure nobody was looking.

He told me how one day he wants to have his own stall in this bazaar and make big money. The mischievous boy, a salesman to the core, went on to persuade me to buy bags from him to help him accomplish his dreams.

After I purchased some of his bags and wished him well, I went away in admiration of the young boy. While much of our poverty-stricken youth can be seen on the streets begging, this boy works hard and plays hard. He has some sort of goals and ambitions, which cannot be said for some  educated children.

His outlook to life was so positive that it left me with the satisfying feeling of hope. People can be happy with so little – it just makes you wonder.


Muhammad Abbas Hassan

A post-grad student studying International Relations, who is an entrepreneur by profession and a part-time writer/blogger

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

More by this writer

  • Zag

    This is what ET blogs should be like…… what a moving story… especially when all around that boy are examples of other kids doing nothing and begging for living, he is doing the right thing by working hard for his living.Recommend

  • The Reader

    Excellent read. Loved reading you man. You started and ended on such a happy note. As for the little cutie, he is too samajhdar for his age. I feel like cuddling this small shalwar-qameez clad boy! So cute!Recommend

  • Atif Nawaz

    Wonderful experience you are sharing. Such people are my inspiration.Recommend

  • Salman

    Thank you for writing something positive in present times… thanks a lot!. cheers…Recommend

  • amin

    thats what i call a blogRecommend

  • Ahmed

    Great Article…. These are the kind of articles one needs to read… Thanks Recommend

  • Mohsin

    it is one of the best blog.. thanks for sharing your experience…Recommend

  • Murtaza Ali Jafri

    Very nice pieceRecommend

  • uzma ausaf

    Thinking about the little salesman brought an instant smile ……how many of you can do that? It is a ray of hope in this traumatised world which is full of good for nothing fraudulent cheats.Please keep on publishing such articles for us to know our future is not bleak & let’s do some thing to save such wonders.Recommend

  • waqas

    Very nice.. loved it. :)Recommend

  • Red

    Loved the post. Thank you! =)Recommend

  • Saad

    “One of them went missing on a Sunday and came back with Rs2,000. He doesn’t want to talk about it though”
    this line sends a chill down my spine. My biggest problem while going home is the traffic jam on Jail Road bridge.Recommend

  • Saniya

    beautifully written, great Job abbas :)Recommend

  • Saniya

    Well written!
    great jobRecommend

  • Syed Hussein El-Edroos

    Just shows what a positive attitude can do. Good “feel good” article. Keep them coming.Recommend

  • danish

    This is such a wonderful blog and lovely inspiring story. Kudos to Abbas for digging it for us. thanks.Recommend

  • sb

    what a waste of time! This is normal in our country.Recommend

  • Yasir Mehmood

    It is a person like this child who prevents his progeny from cruel circle of poverty. I hope his childern will setup even higher goals and their hardships will be lesser than that of Ahmeds. It is good to see there is hope in life around.Recommend

  • Amir

    Much Better than the artciles published in tribune daily

    Really loved the articleRecommend

  • Asad

    awesome writing…..true pic of our societyRecommend

  • Adnan

    I cant see any bagsRecommend

  • Aisha

    Good job Abbas hope to read your more
    stuff soon :)

  • Tania Sultan

    very nice…..n truth

    Keep it up Recommend

  • Tania Sultan

    Very nice n good work Abbas keep it up! :-)Recommend

  • Muhammad Abbas Hassan

    Thank you so much guys. Highly appreciate your comments… Recommend

  • rubina riaz

    even i have met many very young and very old hard working but happy conteded souls,this story should be an eye opener for people who blame fate or any govt forTHEIR inability to face life and leave their loved ones in deeper misery by committing suicide,imagine if life was hard with you being with them but without you…………….Recommend

  • Girl

    A very nice share, wish the young boy good luck!Recommend

  • urooj minhaj

    very nice ..Recommend

  • Rashid Gujjar

    So it is tried to encourage child labor here??? The Sunday Bazaar authority (DHA) should look into this matter if vendors hire young kids to work for their stalls!!!Recommend

  • Adeel Ur Rehman

    “He has some sort of goals and ambitions, which cannot be said for some educated children.”
    This is the plight of our generation. Over-generalistaion and not being targeted enough.
    Well written abbas!!… keep posting!Recommend

  • nisar ahmed mahar

    wonderful blog. Very good piece of work. This shows how u see the world. Atleast a positive read. Among all others published daily in ET.Most of them create tension and negativity(specially the one with heading” wht happens inside a madarsah”) totally based on false allegations. Any way keep it up we expect such more blogs.Recommend

  • Ali

    @Rashid Gujjar:
    Dear Rashid,

    Yes you are right, child labour should NOT be encouraged. But, in this particular scenario, a poor boy from the slums is living the life of a good and sensible person. Isn’t that what education teaches us (formal and informal)? Aren’t we taught to be respectable and responsible citizens in schools and at home?

    If neither his parents or the government can afford to provide him that, wouldn’t you think it’s better for him to use us wit and actually earn a good and respectable living?Recommend

  • Kanishka

    This kid talks like a Hindu Baniya…the creed you hate most…. Be careful what you wish for… Businessmen tend to be SELFISH to the core..Recommend

  • Parvez

    I liked how you told the story. The spirit and determination of the boy has to be appreciated but one can not ignore the bigger picture that tells a sad story.Recommend

  • Hifza Shah Jillani

    Muhammad Abbass, how considerate. If only we had more people like you.
    Really appreciate it, MashaAllah. :)Recommend

  • Hasnain Iqbal

    very nice share . Inspiring story for all the peoples who are worry for nothing instead of having everything. Look at this small boy with courage and his efforts and the main thing his positive attitude towards life. Hats off to you writer.Keep writing on.Recommend

  • Wafa

    Good share.

    Abbas can you recall his stall number or something? would be great if we can actually go buy stuff form him and say we read about you in paper. Might just encourage him more and other disheartened boys around him can hear his story and make a respecteful living too.

    He should know his outlook to life and aims brought smile to my face !Recommend

  • Aisha Gulzar

    I just loved your article :) its amazing how keenly you observed a turned a small encounter into an inspiring story……. Recommend

  • Wasim

    I wish there is some way I can help these children in Pakistan.Recommend

  • sadia

    excellent blog.great have covered the whole story in such a nice way.keep it up….Recommend

  • Safire

    Aww. Made me all teary. :) May Allah protect him and make his dreams come true. Ameen.Recommend

  • ashok sai

    Inspirational stuff, a deep breath coming out of me. Thanks author.Recommend

  • http://India IndianMuslim

    Thank you for sharing your experience, bro !

    Convey my salaam to this little boy when you meet him next time, in’sha allah..Recommend

  • usman rasheed

    Thank-you Abbas for this wonderful piece. The story is very uplifting and the boy is just inspiration for us all. Recommend

  • Tabish

    Wow… Finally read something good. Good going author and ET. Thumbs upRecommend

  • I am a responsible and civilized citizen of Paksitan

    Nice Blog Ahmad Hassan. We need to share such motivational stories, unlike our TV channels who don’t focus on all colours of PakistanRecommend

  • amna

    great job we often overlook such people who really deserves our help.a must read artcle as it als highlghts chld labour in a soft tone….Recommend

  • Hamza A Khan

    What an admirable example for all of our young generation, who are wasting their lives after being being graduation or having their masters done and begging around in different organizations for jobs without knowing their interpersonal skills and qualities, and if somebody ask about the reason of the reason that why don’t they do something by their own?
    They simply reply with the same answer” Bhai Pakistan hai yaha kuch nahi ho sakta”
    I’m totally disagree with those people and i must say here that our country have lots of opportunities here to do any business and I understand doing any business money always matters but some time it really doesn’t believe me or not!
    I have started my carrier in same struggling circumstances about 7 and half years back, seeking jobs in different firms, most of the time in sales and marking companies, most of them were commission based means if you achieved the target you can take some money otherwise all in vain.
    Almost eight years i have been to the same situation and i had alot of responsibilities on my shoulders too during that period.
    One day as i was sitting in my room’ i decided to that why don’t i start my own company?
    I know its sounds crazy but to you people, but anyhow i decided to go ahead without caring the outputs and results.
    I was nothing in my pocket nor any investor to help me out in starting it, the only thing which i had was a computer, internet & yes my experience which i have gained during that period, so on that basis i decided to start my journey.
    I decided to open a online business consultancy firm well know as BPO or Business Process Outsourcing firm which is now very popular in Pakistan, India and Philippines it actually deals with telesales and marketing.
    So after starting this business i have gone through many ups and downs like every businessman faces these situations.
    So after 2 years of non stop struggle and hard work finally i got a place in market and interact with many entrepreneurs in USA, Canada, UK Australia, Pakistan, India and Philippines, and and also got some tender from U.S and Australian clients which were Telecom and medical marketing campaigns.
    Now with the grace of Almighty ALLAH i’m a successful businessman and not only this a businessman who started his journey without any investment, you can say that “Zero investment and maximum profit”
    Now my annual turnover is more than $100000 and also i have no partners because i don’t feel comfortable in partnership business. :)
    So dear friends please try to be self motivated, don’t be a dependent on any one, please try to find the inner person in yourself because everyone can do this all you need is to realize and that YES I CAN DO! and should have a strong believe on Almighty ALLAH.
    Wishing a successful and prosperit life to all of you!Recommend

  • GAM

    Not sure if the boy in the picture is 10 years old, he looks younger. Also, he seems to be selling shoes, not bags.
    Is this a cooked up story?Recommend

  • Ahmer

    Excellent Read!!! Thanks for sharing your experience…:)Recommend

  • Zaheer

    nice post,nice guy in the story..Recommend

  • Rizvi

    Finally something worthwhile on Express Tribune. I think the boy will make a great middle order batsman for Pakistan Cricket Team, Inshallah.Recommend

  • zahra.mohammed

    @GAM the author did not send in a picture of the boy he spoke to, since at the time he did not intend to send in a blog entry. This is just a generic picture of a boy from Sunday Bazaar. The author has promised to send in some pictures when he visits Sunday Bazaar this weekend.


  • AA

    Awesome writing AbbassRecommend

  • A

    Absolutely. THIS IS WHAT WE NEED TO SHOW TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD. CHANGE OUR PERCEPTION, AND THE WORLD’s. Agar Pakistan sahi hota to koi bahar naa jata…Recommend

  • Rashid Gujjar

    @Ali…Well this is very sad that our youth is forced to work in the age when they should only care for their school tests and favorite cartoons!!! In this particular scenario, the majority of kids that we see in such bazaars are basically Afghan refugees and UN agencies, USAID, and other such organizations should work to assure the education and well being of such displaced kids living in sprawled slums around the country in very adverse circumstances….

    What message writer is trying to deliver in the following lines Ali?
    “He has some sort of goals and ambitions, which cannot be said for some educated children.”

    Why we want our kids to live an extraordinary life…atleast they have a right to live carefree childhood!!!!Recommend

  • Shumaila

    I was actually slightly disappointed by this. While the child is truly courageous and an inspiration to be working so bravely, it is a shame that he should have to do so at such a young age, instead of gaining an education and more opportunities and a safe, carefree childhood. So while I love the boy for his courage, I hate the society that’s put him in such a position.Recommend

  • Tariq

    If you read the caption, it says it is a file picture

    Nice read though. Bravo Recommend

  • Muhammad Abbas Hassan

    Thank you for the love guys.
    InshAllah will be sharing some more stories in future.

    Abbas Recommend

  • Nafeel

    Beautiful Article, we need more no nonsense writers like this.
    Clearly shows both sides of the coin.Recommend

  • sadiq nagri

    An inspiring story. It was really great to see the world thorugh the eyes of Ahmed. It took me litrally into his world.kudos for writing such an excellent article.Recommend

  • Atif

    Very nice and motivating…………..When some people are stuck in any trouble they star blaming others but no one is happy in the way he is living……… body wants his successors to be like him……This boy however was happy the way he was living and I think all of us should be like this boy and live on day at a time leave the future to AllahRecommend

  • Bilal Aslam

    Abbas Hassan, very good article, I must say..keep it up brother… Recommend

  • Ahmed Mufti

    Very well articulated. I am so in love with this boy named AHMED Recommend

  • Ali

    @Rashid Gujjar:
    I am not the writer and I certainly do not speak for whatever he may have written. Please direct your question to him.

    Thank you.Recommend

  • simplify

    @Hamza A Khan:
    Wow – thats a great storyRecommend

  • http://[email protected] Dr.a.g.Dawood

    Simply beautiful!Recommend

  • Zehra

    Zabardast.. i never knew about this news blog and paper ..
    all the writers are soo good
    hats off to you guys Recommend