Stories about poverty

The dream that could never be – part 3: A wolf at every turn

She had woken up sweating heavily, vividly remembering his foul ragged breath on her neck and the abnormally large splinter just a step behind her. The next day, her baji had sent her to clean her late father-in-law’s old study in the formerly off-limits part of the house. The place was covered under ages of dirt and was teemed with insects. Samreena had been extremely scared to even step foot there until she found that golden brooch. “Samreena! Kiya halaat hain uper? Neechay aa kay batao jaldi. So gayi ho kiya?” (Samreena! What is the situation up there? Quickly come downstairs and ...

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Hear a mother’s heart

The sky was bathed in the flaming yellow rays of the sun. It was a bright sunny morning in Lahore. Shahbaz’s rickshaw broke down again in the middle of the road. The traffic broke into wild outbursts of car horns, and angry people growled and grumbled at him for disrupting the traffic flow. Shahbaz’s rickshaw was old now and rank with problems. If it stopped working one day, he wouldn’t even make as little money as he did now. The thought made him anxious. How would he provide for his wife and son if that happened? ‘I wish I could buy a ...

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A dark conversation in the city of lights: “If you don’t listen to your parents, you’ll end up like this (transgender)”

Wandering across the city of lights without a clue about your destination has a certain edge to it. When it comes to digging up possible stories hidden somewhere within this metropolitan, the best possible course of action is always to take a walk in this crowded coastal expanse. Carrying the burden of writer’s block, I decided to journey through this city in search of inspiration.   It took a significant part of the day for my restlessness to triumph over my determination, and with a sense of certain defeat, I paused for a cigarette at the nearest cabin I could ...

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Why do Pakistanis think Asad Umar’s claim of 10 million jobs is impossible and impractical?

While outlining the 100-day agenda shared by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) recently, Asad Umar spoke about the possibility of creating 10 million jobs in five years.  He mentioned promoting tourism and announcing new destinations in an attempt to produce thousands of employment opportunities for the youth. He also mentioned making an extra effort to attract investors in Pakistan and creating an economic link with China through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Ultimately, enhanced investments and exports would create a bulk of jobs for the unemployed youth of Pakistan. Hue and cry, sarcasm and ridicule poured in over his statement, with the consensus ...

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Heartening and poignant, ‘Hichki’ is a reminder that Rani Mukerji is one of the Bollywood ‘greats’

Rani Mukerji’s interesting new movie Hichki hit the theatres recently, and if there is one thing I’d say about her, it is that Mukerji has still got it! This is her first movie in four years, as she was last seen playing a leading role in Mardaani (2014), and yet she is the scene-stealer! If anything, the break proves that despite spending a few years away from the big screen, she still has the acumen to deliver a performance reminding us why she is one of the ‘greats’.  Directed by Sidharth P Malhotra and produced by Maneesh Sharma, Hichki focuses on Naina ...

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Did you think Kamlesh’s “soluchan” was funny?

A video went viral a while ago, which means that you have probably heard of “Kamlesh” and his “soluchan” (solution) by now. For a while, it seemed like you couldn’t go anywhere without the jokes and the memes following you. The documentary on Kamlesh was being shared everywhere, yet for all the wrong reasons. I saw this video accidentally, and could not find a single reason to laugh. In fact, this is the first time I have heard the story of a “kachra chunnay wala” child (garbage collector), the likes of which one can see in Karachi all the time, ...

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Take with you all that is yours

“What is it like migrating to another country for work?” I asked a middle-aged, growing old, worn out man. There appeared deep wrinkles on his forehead, deep like incurable scars. His eyes blinked, as if trying to capture the escaping moments, and he heaved a cold sigh. “What can I say?” He whispered in anguish. “I came here to earn just enough money, to run a home with dignity. A home with my parents, brothers, sisters, my wife, and our children, But I’ve increasingly fallen short of making that home, Let alone running it. Having spent some 15 years here, In this foreign land, Which is still foreign to me. I would say– If there’s no other ...

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The child marriage legislation is a step in the right direction, but will it be implemented?

Marriages are big business in Pakistan. It is a time of hope, happiness, faith and love. Such a memorable event can easily turn sour when the parties getting married are underage. To curb this heinous act, legislation has been passed by the National Assembly, aimed to reduce child marriages by ramping up the severity of the punishment.  Instead of being imprisoned for up to three years, individuals involved in arranging child marriages face a 10-year imprisonment with a one million rupees fine. This new change in the law seems to be a serious effort on part of the government to tackle this insidious practice. Although on ...

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“So, what’s Pakistan like?”

The old man had the most startling blue eyes, the kind that glittered in a wizard-like way. He was a contractual worker fixing some room in the building where I work, and I met him in the kitchen over my morning coffee. He asked where I’m from and widened his eyes. He didn’t comment on how good my English is, but how American my accent is (which I take no offence or pride in – it’s not the two years of Master’s in St Louis but all those American movies and TV shows I watch). And then he asked me ...

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Capitalism, the disease that breeds social injustice

A while back, a story went viral on the internet about a young girl, who worked as a house maid. Long story cut short, she asked her employer for an advance because her mother was extremely ill, but her employer refused. A few hours later, the very same employer showed the house maid the brand new lipstick she had just bought – a MAC product worth more than her salary. The house maid was naturally furious and disappointed: What happened then? Did the house maid’s mother survive? I doubt it. She didn’t have enough money for the treatment and her employer had refused to give her ...

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