Abdul Razzaq — The Kid We Have Ignored


Abdul Razzaq

I was coming home early in the morning when I saw something that made me curious: a young Pashtun guy with a sack of trash lying at his foot was writing something on a neighborhood wall. See this I got near him. He was writing his name on the wall with this black marker “Abdul Razzaq”.

The thing that was surprising for me was that I couldn’t expect a guy of his standing to actually know how to write. But he wrote it well on the wall. You can see the pic.

As I got near him, he started smiling. I asked him if he knew how to write and he nodded with a smile. For a few moments I stood still there without uttering a single word, looking at his name that he had just written on the wall. Then I turned to him and asked him if he has actually been to school. He told me that he studied a bit on his own because he loves it but he didn’t have enough resources to actually go to school, and most of all he had to earn bread and butter for his family which he must do over the education. I asked him how much he earns to which he retorted that he earns 250 to 300 Rs daily from the thrown-away boxes and other recyclable stuff that he picks from the roadsides which he sells everyday to a junkyard that deals in such kind of recyclable trash.

It didn’t take me long to realise that the young guy was actually curious to know why I was asking this all, and my realisation came true when he blurted the request: “tum hum ko parhao gey?” (Will you teach me?). And inside heart I said to myself he has requested me something that I was actually about to offer him the next minute. And certainly I couldn’t say no to his request, could I? Could anyone else for that matter? I don’t think so.

But I think despite that we all couldn’t say no to such a request of someone of his standing who is so keen on getting educated, we still deny indirectly the thousands of requests daily. Basically, we don’t even provide young, poor kids the opportunity to even raise the request, and then obviously we don’t even offer them the right to education that they deserve.

In any case, I told the kid that I will get him enrolled in a school. But he told me that after 2 months he will leave for Quetta where his family is settled for 26 years now and so he would have to quit the school here in Karachi. As much as I wanted him to go to school, and he wanted the same thing, I could not even squeeze him to stay in Karachi for the rest of the year and the years to come and not just for the winters (according to him he spends winters in Karachi and earns in this season where he saves around 25,000 Rs in this time that he takes back to Quetta for his family where he spends the rest of the seasons). But I got this acute wish that it would have been great if he had stayed here for his complete formal education. But I promised him that I will buy books for him and come down to his home (he lives in a shanty not too far from my home; there are loads of other shanties too in his colony) and teach him there. When I actually told him that, he brought his hand forward in joy and excitement for me to shake. He was kinda thanking me. And then he actually said “shukria” (Thanks). But I told him he had nothing to thank me for, so he retorted that he will pray for me. I just smiled, and said that this is all I need.

He took me to his home and showed me around so I could come and teach him there for the rest of the two months in Karachi. Nonetheless, I will still try talk in to him the idea of getting complete formal education.

When I was leaving, he had this cute smile on his face, and he said he didn’t want to keep picking trash all his life, that he wanted to be like me, dress like me, and become a good man. I told him he is already a good man, so good and better than rest of us that he doesn’t know it all. He probably was too simple to understand it so he didn’t answer me; but it is important for me — and the rest of us — to understand him and the ilks. There is too much to understand, empathise and act. But to act quick. We are losing it badly in our country now.

28 Years


28 years have passed now. And sometimes I wonder what exactly I have done in all these years. I am not sure how to answer. If anything, I haven’t been able to achieve so much of what I wished to achieve. But this does not mean that I am unhappy with what I am now or how things are around me. I have to say that I am very much happy and contented; I am better than millions of people; or maybe billions? Quite different are the feelings of being incomplete and these feelings originate from the unaccomplished or half-accomplished objectives I planned sometime somewhere in life. I think having these feelings are still natural and not relevant to materialistic desires and cannot be tantamount to being unthankful.