Older beyond his years: Teenage vendor dreams of a better life

Published: August 10, 2015
Ijaz has decorated his stall in Super Market with face paints, masks, ribbons and glasses, among other items. PHOTOS: SHAZIA MEHBOOB/EXPRESS

Ijaz has decorated his stall in Super Market with face paints, masks, ribbons and glasses, among other items. PHOTOS: SHAZIA MEHBOOB/EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: As August 14 draws closer, preparations for the Independence Day celebrations have begin to grip life in an otherwise quiet capital.

Small roadside stalls have mushroomed throughout the city selling various items such as the national flag, flag pins, buttons, hats, traditional clay lamps, badges and masks. These items are in hot demand especially with children and teenagers.

For 16-year-old Zain Ijaz, like many other vendors and stallholders, the fast approaching day of festivity is an opportunity to earn a little extra money as well as express his love for the country. Ijaz has decorated his roadside stall in Super Market with items such as face paints, masks, ribbons, glasses, friendship bands, caps and flags.

Like any other teenager his enthusiasm is relentless and ambitions know few bounds. Ijaz said he plans to celebrate the Independence Day by face painting and wearing a flag pin.

He said the Independence Day represented a desire on the part of our forefathers for a life of honour and dignity. “We owe this day and this country to the Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his struggle for a separate state,” Ijaz said.

Last week he set up the stall and sale has been satisfactory.  Ijaz said he was worried however, of his stall being removed or his items for sale getting confiscated by officials of the civic agency. “I will shift my stall to somewhere else in case they ask me to remove it,” he added.

The teenager with a cheeky smile on his face said that in case officials took away items from his stall he knew how to get them back.

The 9th grader lives in a rented house in Muslim Colony near Bari Imam with nine other members of his family. Ijaz, and his brothers, 18-year-old Ali and his twin Jahanzeb help their father who is a construction worker during their vacations from school in the summer. The teenager and his two brothers sell fruits and vegetables at a stall at the Sunday Market and also wash cars in various sectors of the city during gazetted school holidays. This help supplements the family’s income. Ijaz and his family hope that some day they will be able to save enough to build a house of their own.

He said he sets up his stall at eight in the morning and stays till 10 at night. Ijaz said this was how his schedule would look like till Independence Day is over.

The teenager and all his siblings are enrolled at school. He said that he wished to join the army as a commando. “One from every thousand is selected to join the SSG [army’s special force unit], and I will be the one,” Zain said innocently but confidently.

He said that majority of his sales came from people belonging to the middle-income group who purchased various items for their children. Ijaz plans to start face-painting at his stall from August 13.

Jahanzeb and Ali will also be running their own stalls in Aabpara and Rana Market.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2015.


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