Stories about poor

Why don’t beggars quit being so gross?

The following is a graphic description of my traumatic ordeal last week, when I was forced to cruise through a bazaar full of beggars in my handsome new Corolla. I emerged from it with a greater understanding of their sordid ways, of which I shall gladly inform you. It was an ordinary afternoon that transformed into a grotesque nightmare. I made a fatal mistake of passing through Saddar which was teeming with excited Eid shoppers, and found myself stuck in a gridlock. That’s when it began. They came at me from every direction; tapping on my window with their yellow, misshapen ...

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Bulbulay: When a poor man’s distress is funny

The TV-show ‘Bulbulay’ enjoys a sizable fan-following in Pakistan, but I’ve never really been a part of that base. On watching its most recent episode, my face appears to have been restructured to bear a permanent grimace. The story went something like this (needless to say, you’ll find spoilers here!): A penniless man arrives at the family’s doorstep begging for food. He stays at the door for several hours, sobbing uncontrollably about his woeful condition. The fact that the show’s writers managed to squeeze jokes into the episode with such a background story, is a remarkable feat. But wait, it gets funnier! ...

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Ship-breaking at Gadani: Unsafe and unfair for ordinary workers

Ship-breaking, the process in which defunct ships are broken up to obtain reusable steel and other materials, is a major industry in Pakistan. Reviving from a slump that almost forced it to shut down, the industry is once again seeing its fortunes perk up. Pakistan’s sole ship-breaking yard is situated at Gadani, about 50 kilometres northwest of Karachi. Once the largest ship-breaking yard in the world, it now ranks number three after the Alang Ship Breaking Yard in India and the Chittagong Ship Breaking Yard in Bangladesh. Stretched along a 10-km long beachfront, it consists of 132 ship-breaking plots. Currently, ...

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Myth busting: The truth about Pakistan’s energy crisis

With the electronic media barely in its teens and social media barely out of pre-school, information is reaching us in all shapes: substantiated and unsubstantiated, actual and distorted. The media process needs the kind of maturity only the slow and gradual process of evolution can bring. So, in the absence of an effective information editing mechanism at the origination end, a need for filtering at the consumption end becomes imperative. Of course, it is unfair to expect everyone to be a domain expert on everything. A basic level of understanding on key issues helps distinguishing facts from fiction, hope from hype, ...

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When a mother has a son like you

He was 37; she was 18. They had known each other for just one year. She was a nurse in the dispensary run by him. Today, they are getting married in a simple ceremony. Rejected by seven girls a decade earlier, he had given up on the idea of marriage. But couples are made in heaven and this young nurse was the perfect bride for him. A fateful wedding night: After the function was over, they were heading home. I was somehow able to go along, invisible. They were near their dispensary just to check if anyone was waiting for medical ...

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International Day for Street Children: Make a child smile today

“So, what are you doing on the International Day for Street Children?” A simple question I asked around to get to know the opinion of people in my city. To my dismay, none of them knew about the existence of the day! When I told them about it, hardly any responded that they would be doing something nice for the improvised. A few even argued over the point of having such a day. They believed that it was a ‘lame’ concept of the modern day and found it ridiculous to attribute one day to one person. The difference of opinion and unawareness about ...

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Out of sight, out of mind

Arsalan’s mother had cooked his favourite dish today: kalool (red beans) with lamb mutton. The beans were from the mountains of Dir, and were special, the reason being that the archaic methods of agriculture are still in practice there. These methods resulted in a low yield, but the taste of the produce was unrivaled. The mutton was from Namak Maandi – Charsi Tikka Shop made sure that the lambs that they slaughtered were young and their meat was left in the freezer for a week or two. They wouldn’t sell raw meat to anyone, but then Arsalan was one of their regular ...

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What a street boy taught me

I blinked hard and tried to concentrate on the report I had to submit shortly. Blood rushed to my head, making it pound fiercely. I am 26 years old, a research medical officer working day and night to meet the expectations of my boss. I wonder as I gaze at the fading computer screen; the arduous struggle, the moral strife, my turmoil for a little breath… was I stressed out? All these thoughts flickered through my mind; I shook my head as if trying to exorcise such thoughts away and stepped into my boss’ room to deliver the scientific report ...

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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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What it means to be human

With God’s choice, you’re matched with a life, A simple lottery number, you are born into the very rich, The very poor, The simple middle.   You ask questions, But the answers are endless. Tiny prayer offered before a scarce meal, Gluttony at it’s finest and greed sky high.   Our world becomes demoralised, By the second we hope. I pray, She withers away,   He needs a casket, But who can afford one? One human race, Divided into many useless groups.   Who do you follow? Your mosque, Your solitude. Your mosque, my fear.   We are simply animals, No better than mere animals. Why bark, When we can think?   An explosive made, You’re a martyr. A gun shining, In the rays of the sun.   What will you prove, To your god today? Minutes, hours, Days ...

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