A TOY SELLER IN BHAATI GATE
HEROISM AT ITS BEST
Menace of beggars in Lahore
My uncle Abdur Raheem Chughtai used to discuss things with me. Analysis of his long life. He said he had never seen a Pathan beg for his living anywhere. A Pathan never raises his hand in front of anybody. Stuck with the most menial of jobs, he still serves himself with dignity. Today we see HATA KATAS, full bodied men and women, begging at every cross roads, and realize the shame of the Nation, which has learnt to extend its hand as beggars.
But why blame them? Our leaders are even worst beggars, raising their shameless hands in front of everyone the world, and hoarding their wealth, so that it may burn them in hell itself. A shameless lot of politicians surround us. We wait for the day when they will be brought to task. If not here, surely in the next world.
But there have always been men of dignity. In the Mohalla Chamala, inside Bhatti Gate, in front of a small house, was the shop (a mere wood board on a thara) of a man, who was POLIO stricken to the core. Perhaps by birth abnormality or anything else, only his face was normal. Bearded with pleasant countenance, he would lie there on the stairs of his house, selling small toys. His whole body was twisted, mangled legs, mangled hands, mangled torso, it was even frightening to look at his body. He was not able to stand, or even sit. He could only lie down and twist some half movements. And instead of begging, he sold toys in his house.
We used to buy toys from him. Not expensive toys, all toys, for two and a half annas at that time. Probably he made half an anna on sale of one toy. In today’s terms, that is not even peanuts for anyone. But what he sold, made him eat a dignified meal every day. I never knew his name, nor I ever asked him. We were actually somewhat afraid of him too. But his face was so radiant, so full of life. Dignity unexplainable. He also used to sell sweets (golis). One anna for perhaps six or eight of them. Such minor businessman, with a giant of a dignity. May Allah rest his soul in peace! I think he was a beacon light for any and could be a beacon light for our wretched leaders of today.
Halal or haram are concepts we had in our life. My father never let GREED invade his life. He earned with dignity. Most people took advantage of him, particularly his so called best friends. Interestingly that my father never carried money. He never put money in his pocket. He hated to even count money and if he had caught me counting money, maybe he would have slapped me. Yes, slapped me for paying attention to money. My father gave me halal for life, and I give halal to my children. And Allah forbid that I indulge myself otherwise. I live in a house that my father built in 1938 (land bought in 1931). Previously he lived in a house built in 1758 (yes 1758). Yes, I drive a car, model 1977. Yes, 1977. I eat the best kind of food, I send my children to the best schools possible, for the best education. I wear good. I feel good. This nation has not even given me my daily bread, but I have spent crores on the nation itself, for public good. No one really cares. Yes, I am in tension most of my life, but there is a contentment that no SOB kanjar of haram can take from me. I have a happiness no haramzada can ever have.