If you take care of others? - By: Abida Rahmani

image> This is a a very innocent short story in the back drop of poverty, illiteracy and class difference in Pakistan. Form where originally I belong too.
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> -- If you take care of others
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> Aminah was taught about this lesson just from childhood, sharing every thing with each other in their limited means. They were six siblings’ three brothers and three sisters. She was the fourth in the row. The father used to work as a construction worker from morning till evening, while the mother used to work in the nearby homes as a maid. All of them grew up in this shanty slums dwelling of only two small rooms with a tin roof. It had one small bathroom and toilet to share. They were lucky enough to have a bathroom, a water tap and an Indian commode to use. Most of their neighbors used to go in the outside fields. She was quite small, maybe six, when she started going with her mother to work. It was so common in this lower class community; they believed that a baby is born with a mouth but two hands to support the family.
> She was greatly fascinated by the life styles of those homes she worked in. They were full from all the modern luxuries, TVs, DVDs, computers, phones, a lot of toys and books. She was not allowed to touch any thing or play with any thing. When doing cleaning she would only touch them just to keep them aside. She some times looked at the pictures and writings which looked like some pictures to her too.
> She would look at all the bajis and bhaijans with envy who used to read books and sit on computers. “Could I be like one of them, to understand what is written there?” One day while coming back home, she asked her mom “Can I go to school like other kids, I want to read and write like the bajis and bhaijans.” “No, don’t ever think about it, we are poor people and none of your older brother and sisters go to school. Therefore how can you.” “But I want to read and write” Her mom just kept quiet and didn’t reply.
> Her mother sometimes used to pray and teach them kalma “La ilaha illalah Mohammadur rassolullah.” (There is no God except Allah and Mohammad is his prophet), bismillah (with the name of Allah) alhamdolillah (thanks to Allah). She used to listen to adhaans coming from nearby masjids five times a day. She knew that she was a Muslim and Muslims to go to masjid but nothing more than that.
> There only target was to earn more money to put a concrete roof on their house. Because there was a lot of noise during rains and leakage some times. One day she collected some papers from the garbage and brought that home with her. Then she took a pointed stone and started copying them on the mud floor. A lot of nice sketches were drawn. This became one of her favorite game. She didn’t like the other games played by other kids. She called this game the game of writing…. One day she realized that a lot of good papers and used pencils were thrown in trash. Aminah collected all those and brought home and then started writing and copying over them. Her mom would stealthily watch her but some how she liked her game too.
> A new family has moved in the new house. They hired them because of their good reputation in the neighbors. Aminah learned that this baji has arrived from America. She was very nice and gentle towards her. On the very first day of the job she asked her mother, “Maasi send her to school and get her educated. She should not do this work, it’s a child labor and this is not good.”Her mother understood half of the dialogue. “Baji we are poor people and I need her help. My eldest daughter takes care of small siblings and home. The second one is full time employed with a baji and the boy goes to a workshop.”
> “OK then when she is finished with work send her to me and your other daughter too and I will start teaching them a little bit.” So gleefully she looked at her mother and her mother told baji about her favorite game.
> She was so excited that it got so difficult for her to wait until evening. She took shower, wore nice clean clothes and along with her older sister went to baji. She welcomed and told them that for the first one hour she will teach them about our deen Islam the basic things and then some Urdu and English.
> First she checked that how much they knew and then started with first two ayas of Alfatiha. Alhamdolillah rabbil alameen arrahmaan irrahim. Then she taught them a few of Arabic, Urdu and English Alphabet. Aminaah was so excited to learn the sounds of all her drawings and artwork. She felt like those dumb letters have started talking. This was the happiest day of her life. At the end of the class baji gave them some candies. It was their choice to keep the books home or with baji. Aminaah brought her books home. During night for a long time she read those letters again and again what the baji had taught in the dim light. She heard her father, “Aminah turn off the light and go to sleep.” Whole night she dreamt about reading and writing. Then it became a routine going to baji for taking lessons. Aminah was doing better than her older sister. Baji taught them about the basics of Islam and how to offer salah.
> Now Aminah started gathering small sentences in Urdu and words in English. She was very good at writing and would complete her home work with great enthusiasm.
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> Baji has invited some friends for tea today and she asked the girls to help her. After the ladies seated she asked both the girls to come over. She had already introduced both of them. “Aminaah recite Al-Fatiha”. Both of them were already prepared for the presentation. She put her scarf on head and started with istiaadha and Basmallah in a nice confident voice. The other girl recited Hamd and Naat. All the ladies seemed very delighted and impressed and hugged both of them. Baji discussed about some facility with them to teach these working class kids. “Let us first do a survey in the area about the families and their kids and that how many of them wish to learn?”
> At least 10-12 kids agreed to start their learning or education process. Aminaah was the monitor of class. Now the class has started in the patio or verandah of the house. She should reach there ahead of time; organize the desk, black board and then spread the rug for the kids to sit on. Two of other bajis joined. One of them used to teach English and the other Math. They had pretty colored books, pencils crayons, sharpeners, erasers, note books and nice back packs. Aminah was so excited about all this that she some times would not believe it real. She was learning and picking up very quickly and was a girl with such a nice manners.
> One day baji called both of her parents to discuss something important with them. Aminah was a bit upset for not knowing what is going on. Her mother told her the next day, “Baji wants to put you in a regular school for studies and she will bear all the expenses.” She was startled to learn that. The next day baji took her to a nearby Government school. She took a test there and was selected for 3rd grade. Baji bought her books and uniform and directed her about going to school regularly. She could come in the evening to her house for learning Quran and doing her home work. Her sister was more interested in learning Quran, a bit of reading, writing, cooking and baking.
> The years passed by Aminaah proved to be an excellent student. She earned many prizes, awards and scholarships. With the help of baji and encouragement of her parents, this small girl is now a big woman. She has a teaching degree and she opened a school in her area with the help of baji and her friends. Baji was the torch bearer and mentor for her. She named this school after her. She is the principal of this school.
> Now her family has moved to a much decent house. Most of the siblings are married and she is soon going to be married to a nice young qualified man and that man is no one else but baji’s youngest brother.

Posted on Apr 20, 17 | 6:53 am