Shaukat : Our very Own
Meet Shaukat: an eight year old who comes all the way from Rawat to Islamabad, to sell some flowers and to win bread for his family. Going to school is not an option for him “I have to work 8 hours a day to earn some money, so do not have the time for school” he says. Asked if he would like to go to school to study “Sure, I would love to” was his reply with sparkle in his eyes.
We see a lot of these children around in the streets of Islamabad, with ragged clothes, sometimes without proper shoes, selling flowers, books, stationary and toys. Fate has not been too kind to them, but neither are the Islooites. “I am usually chased off by guards, and am used to verbal abuse by people” he says with a smile, that is insufficient to hide the pain and misery whose effects are visible on his beautiful round face. They have to endure a tough 60+ hour work week. They usually start off at 8 am in the morning and have to go on till 8 pm in the evening. Sometime they have to go home without a penny’s earning. You can see them shivering with cold at night, without proper warm clothes or even jumpers.
“Do you want to continue like this?” I asked, to which he replied “Well, I would love to go to school as well, if it can be managed and someday become a pilot”. At least he has his dreams to savor freely. Thank God he created dreams, I said to myself. Standing there I just got lost in thoughts that spiraled me into deep contemplation. We could at least lend them some vain jumpers that we have at home; some warm socks would be handy, especially with the winter approaching. Or at least be polite and kind to them if nothing more. It’s not his fault that this guy was born to the “other side” of the city, to poor parents. For all that we know, he might be a genius with an IQ of 150. But many of us, just by shear luck happen to enjoy all the benefits of “modern” society, never realizing how much we take for granted.
I heard a loud roar that brought me back into reality from wonderland. The first thing I saw was a guard with a big cane running behind these kids, and they dispersed like little scared sheep. I kept shouting to Shaukat to come back, but he had disappeared somewhere ” I am used to abuse” were the words reverberating in my head when I finally took weary steps away from that place.