Stories about beggar

I didn’t choose to be poor

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 ...

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Two toffees a day – enough to feed this seven-year-old

My friend and I were eating a burger on a Saturday evening, when a seven-year-old boy interrupted us. Boy: Bhai I’m hungry, please buy me something to eat. Me: Allah ke hawalay!  Khaaney do! (For God’s sake! Let us eat!) Boy: Bhai, I’m hungry! Ameer: How do we buy you food? We are students, we don’t have extra money! Boy: Bhai, at least buy me a burger? Ameer: Haven’t you heard what we said? Go away. Me: Ameer, wait! I took out a Rs5 coin from my pocket and handed it to the boy. Me: Take this and go! Boy: Will this be enough to buy a burger? I ...

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Eid from across the street

Piercing sounds of obnoxiously loud honking cars and shrill screams of overly excited children poured into my ears. Bright lights blinded me as I tried to make my way into the crowd. Nudging and elbowing fat elderly ladies, I found my spot. My eyes glistered as I stood there aloof from the crowd, yet close enough to enjoy the carnival. It was my favourite time of the year; it was chaand raat, the night before Bakra Eid. Although Eid for me was not any different from the other days that I spent in this city, I felt happy. Usually my typical ...

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I followed him to his home, the slum

Bearing the insignia of your destitution, You smile at me innocently, in awe, with measured restraint, As you collect fruit from the garbage, Searching through the mess, your eyes down, your face composed, You bend with deliberation, patiently shifting through the boxes, Every minute counts, dusk is setting in and patience is running thin.   Brown hair, hazel blue eyes, a sharp nose, Ragged clothes, messy hair, a broken sandal. You could have been my cousin, my niece, If only fate had been more magnanimous, If poverty had not tainted your childhood.   The owner kicks you, abuses, threatens, Yet you continue collecting food from the stinking pile. Your eyes flare up in protest, ...

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I am ashamed

I moved to Hyderabad  Deccan about a year ago, but somehow Hyderabad’s suffering doesn’t register with me. Its people still don’t seem to be my people, and their misery doesn’t seem to be my misery, or even misery at all. This is probably because I’m a Karachiite. Being a Karachiite means you’ve lived through bombings, target killings and the city going up in flames over and over again; it means there have been times when your father hasn’t come home for the night because it was safer to stay put wherever he was; it means there is a high probability that you ...

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The cleverest trick

How often it is that we end up taking things for granted; from having a blessed existence to having a lovely home; being loved by our loved ones and the overwhelming feeling of belonging while reconnecting with family and friends on Eid. But rarely do we pause to think of the unfortunate souls who are devoid of our blessings – those who live on the streets of this megalopolis. A few days before Eid, I was walking down Gulfway Shopping Mall in Clifton, when I saw a boy, no more than 10 years of age, begging from a woman. Brushing ...

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Riaz wanted to learn English

It was almost 11 years ago when I stopped my car at the Teen Talwar traffic light to be greeted by the usual herd of beggars, windscreen cleaners and newspaper sellers. One of the newspaper sellers, Riaz, a total of four feet in height, asked me for a lift to the Marriot signal. Irritated by the commotion around me, I chose to ignore him. Rather than moving on, he boldly walked in front of my car, locked eyes with me, stuck his teeth out like President Asif Zardari would, if he stared at the sun, and performed a mini-break dance ...

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The man who taught me how to give

I was not too surprised when I saw the elderly man on the side of the Islamabad highway. Beggars are a common sight on the road and drivers are used to ignoring them. But as I waited at the traffic signal, I noticed the man stepping onto the road. The light had just turned red and the timer had started. He only had a few seconds to get someone’s attention. Watching him from the car, I assumed he was asking for money, but his movements suggested otherwise. There was no weariness, no weakness in his movements, which is usually associated ...

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Me and the vagabond

I befriended a vagabond. I must admit it was not a natural act, but well, I did. One late evening I was going home and saw a beggar, in dirty tatters of cloth, sitting all by himself and crying bitterly. But there was a reason to his tears. The children standing a little further down were hitting him with pebbles and stones that I could see would fall directly on his shaven head. The scene was really upsetting. It was then that I took the step. Inquired from him, about why was he crying and why the children were throwing ...

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Bringing street children into the fold

After I wrote a blog for The Express Tribune and I Own Pakistan, I got so many positive and negative comments that I decided to work further on the project and come up with a successful model for educating beggars in Karachi. The gist of my idea was that: On each and every signal we should install a small box for water with surf or any other cleaning material and a few wipers. Two to three kids should be assigned to each signal with one official to collect money. All these kids should be provided uniforms and they should have standardised times for ...

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