God works in mysterious ways
When I went back to help them, the family was gone. I had been tested, called on and had not come up to scratch.
As you drive down the road connecting Zamzama with Khayaban-e-Shujaat, you come across a market, at the border of Defence and Clifton Cantonment. The road itself winds down into Shujaat and if you are of the ilk, it shall take you down to the Sunday Bazaar in Defence Phase VIII.
In front of this market are a set of fruit and vegetable thela walas (street vendors), lined up against the wall of Zamzama Park. That section of the road is peppered with cars buying fruits according to their purchasing power. Inside the park, oblivious to their proximity, a legion of affluent people jog daily, unaware of the economic struggle ongoing just ten yards away. For this is the place of squeezing out a marginal existence, with no room for error in the thela walas life.
Even in that tough environment, there are three thelas that lie vacant. Sometimes for periods before Eid, beggars occupy these thelas at night. Recently, on a late evening, I stopped to have a conversation with one such beggar. The story he told is related below.
“Have you ever lost a home? I had a home and land. 2010 floods washed away the house and spoilt the land. I left my family in the village and came here. Allah’s (SWT) great trial is on us; there are no jobs here even among crores of people. My money soon finished and I ate at the lunger (charity food shelter) and slept on the road. One day some good soul gave me food and that’s when it came to me that I can beg. Do you understand how low one falls, to beg? Imagine how I felt the first time I spread my hands out to another human? But even in begging there is a system. I had the protection of a Dada (beggar mafia leader) and he took my money. There’s not much you can do about it, unless you want problems... but I missed my family and had no money to go back.”
“I begged the Dada and he allowed me to bring my family, if I paid daily for them. I was desperate and they came. But the Dada wanted them to beg. I said no, so he threw us out. Saeen, I could not see my family on the road. We were respectable small farmers and never without a roof. So I went back. He said all my family will beg and if I pay him enough, he will find me space to live. In the meantime, he has deposited us here. My poor family does not understand, but every day they go out to beg. My wife cries at night and my baby boy, seven-years-old, he goes and begs at a crossing. How would you feel if your son was sent out to do this? Is dignity even not my right? You eat expensive stuff and drive big cars, yet my boy makes Rs100 a day and we give away Rs50 of that to the Dada. At the end of the day, the boy gets a roti (bread) and daal (pulses) to eat. So where is the justice in this? I cannot even pray, as I am not clean; don’t have clothes and a place to wash. So even my right of prayer to Allah (SWT) is gone! Who is going to answer for that?”
Completely distraught, I just stood there.
My mind starting thinking of what I could do to help was there anything I could do to help? There was no point in donating money because the Dada would take it and the family would be back to square one. I am ashamed to say that at the time, my mind could not work out a solution.
No place for further servants meant that I could not house them.
No immediate vacancy for a job occurred to me.
I think we have become emasculated by the norms of present day society, or maybe too absorbed in our own narrow existence! So I said,
“Wait for a day or so and I shall come back with an answer. Maybe I can get you a job so that you could move your family and once you are employed and out of the clutches of your leech, I can support you with financial aid also.”
Feeling a bit better, I went home, spoke to my family and some semblance of a plan formed in our minds. We thought of moving them back home and aiding them in setting up from scratch. Alas, our lives are full of good intentions, which never quite come to fruition.
A couple of extremely urgent deadlines meant that I could not go back till the day after. When I went back, the thela was empty and the family gone.
Such chagrin as I felt then was not comparable.
I had been tested, called on and had not come up to scratch.
How was I ever going to justify this to myself and Allah (SWT)?
I had no answers.
And so, Eid day dawned and I went for prayers.
After the Eid namaaz I saw the man, in cleaner clothes, coming out of the mosque, following a sahib. I asked about his whereabouts. He said,
“Two days ago an angel of a woman stepped out of her large jeep and asked me my story. When I told her, this woman instructed her driver to collect the family and bring them to her house.”
Now they reside in her servant quarter. His wife does cleaning work and he does gardening and the children will go to school.
Alhamdulillah, miracles never seize to amaze. God truly does work in mysterious ways, miracles do happen and good humans still exist. I wished him and his sahib an Eid Mubarak, told him to thank Allah (SWT) and gave him my contact in case he needed it.
As I walked to my car, I felt as if there is light yet in this world and that there are possibilities for everyone. Good, loving humans renew this human spirit.
May there be many such endings.
Please let’s all of us do our bit of good. This world will be a better place for it.
Read more by Sarfaraz here or follow him on Twitter @Sarehman