A Wonderful Encounter with just another Stranger

Today coming back from work, I decided to take the much talked about walking route but which I had always dismissed as being too long. I usually take a rickshaw back home, and as I was coming down the alley towards the main road, I heard a rickshaw and I so hoped that it would be free, because the walk was proving too much for me in my heels ( No I don’t wear heels to work, Yes today was the first time I wore them to work)

Just another Stranger in this crowd of a City

The rickshaw that I heard already had a person inside it, so I asked another one parked in a corner but he refused to take me. And it was then that I approached this rickshaw, with this cute Pathan Baba driving it. As soon as I sat in, he started telling me stories about his life. And this are excerpts from the conversation that we had and the bits of it that I can remember

My forefather lived a very nice life, but I have not been that fortunate. You see I got married 40 years ago and for 20 years me and my wife couldn’t get a child. So then my wife decided to get me married to another girl, and she was young, and thanks to Allah, I have a daughter now. It wasn’t me who wanted to marry, but my wife insisted that if I can’t give you a child, then maybe another girl will be able to. She has been very happy about the marriage. She says that now she not only has a sister, but also a daughter.

At this point I asked him where he lives;

Orangi, and the conditions aren’t there at all good. Things are getting very bad there

How do you think is doing this

Kanjar’s (an abuse in Urdu – don’t know what it becomes in English) are doing this. If it is Muslims that are doing this, then they don’t deserve to be called Muslims. Muslims were made to help people, not to kill them. So who ever is doing it is not Muslim.

Beti, I cant see much in the dark since I got sugar. Two months ago it was 420, everyone thought I would die. But I made it through. If I had a son, then we would have driven the rickshaw for me. But since God wanted something else for me, so I am still working. So I am just going to drop you and go back home, or I wont be able to see at all.I didn’t want to turn you down too like the other rickshaw wala, because you I see as my beti(daughter)

My daughter is now 17 years old – No she doesn’t go to school, but she has read the entire Quran. In our family a person who hasn’t read the Quran is cut out from the family. And it is this that will help her in the after life.

(He was beaming like hell- from ear to ear- when he was talking about his daughter)

Rs. 200 of my earnings go to the man who lets me drive this rickshaw, and the rest is too little too feed that many mouth. But still Allah is good to us.

I just hate these people who keep looking at girls, and I always stop my rickshaw and ask them if they don’t have any family, mother or sisters that they do such disgusting acts.

I told him that he shouldn’t. These things are far too common and at least I am so used to them that I don’t even notice them any more.

At Johar Mor, the azan happened, and maybe the way he took me as his daughter and how he felt about his own daughter, but something prompted me to cover my head ( I am a strict self-proclaimed atheist).

When we were almost home, he asked me if I lived at Karsaz or here.

“Here. I work there” He asked me what I did.

“I design buildings(I didn’t know if he would understand what an architect is, so I gave a simple description of my job)

“Oh  so you are going to be an engineer. May God bless you in whatever you do. Are you married?”

” No baba”

“So you live with your parents” I nodded.

“Beti you should always listen to them, because God appreciates it. I always say that Beti’s are better than ssons. They always stick with their parents. Even our Prophet said that that house is blessed that has daughter in it. So I consider myself a very lucky man”

As he parked in front of my house, he said that he is going to remember me for a few days and he is going to tell people how he had met an Engineer (my dad had also told everyone the day I got my admission about how his daughter is going to be an Engineer)daughter  of his and how proud he was of it.

I told him that I would remember him too, and thus this is my attempt to keep him immortal in my memory. I wish I could have done something more for you. But I couldn’t and I am sorry. But this talk would always be with me. His simplicity, his believes, his faith all inspired me. The love that he showed towards me touched me deeply. You will always be remembered. My sweet Stranger!

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