Amidst the rushy crowd of Kech Canteen (Turbat), walks haplessly Zameer_ a six-year old child shoelessly with torn clothes_ asking for little money to every passer by. He is spit on, dragged to feet, pushed by some and given a note of 10 rupees by the others. Surprisingly, when he is offered food instead of money, he refuses and asks for a ten rupee note instead of killing his hunger.
Begging has become a common profession in the modern era_ specifically in the Pakistani society. In fact, in Balochistan beggars come from different corners of country. They mostly come from interior Sindh and other parts of Punjab to Balochistan in different favored seasons.
Besides being a profession for many, begging is a compulsion for the others. Only in Turbat city, one can find manifold beggars of both genders with different ages. They are supervised from either their ‘fathers’ or any other influential person of the region.
“Sahib, please give me 10 rupees. My mother is seriously ill and I want to buy medicines for her or else she will die.” says Zameer.
No matter what a child speaks, truth is always visible in their eyes. He knows the other person is well aware of his lie, he has got the only excuse to make, Zameer tells.
“I am compelled to beg. Looking at the other children of my age going to school sucks me the most, but then I feel what else I can do.” says the child having eye to eye interaction with me. “And then I realize they are rich and have enough money for everything, but what do I have?” he smiles painfully pointing at his clothes.
Article 25-A of the Constitution of Pakistan speaks loudly of providing free and compulsory education to the children. Where is its enforcement in Turbat city?
“Not only me, but my younger brother (5 years), my elder sister (13 years) and my mother are also on the same boat.” he claims calling his younger brother closer. “This is our area, my mother and sister are in Sabzi Mandi. Everyone has different targets of money to achieve; me 130 rupees per day, my brother 120, my sister 170 and my mother 230. If anyone of us fails to achieve our targets, we are left hungry and tortured with burned iron by father.” cries Zameer hugging his younger brother in silent vociferations.
How come a father be so cruel to his own children? Why does not he himself bother to work and feed his family? Can fathers really be this brutal?
When a child shares his story, most of us believe he is telling lies to earn more money. When I asked him to justify, he smiled tearfully showing his and his brother’s hands which had symptoms of severe violence. He says they were tortured the very previous day when they could not make to their targets.
“Sahib, I am not telling you these all to get extra money, but because I felt you are a kind person for you asked me for food.” he laments. “And, it is written in our fate. We are now used to such violence.”
“Mulla says if God punishes in this world, He gives comforts hereafter. When I go to Allah, I will complain for everything He has done with us in this world and ask Him for a better life by then.” he finishes with innocence and maturity all at once.
Listening to the innocent child, I looked up the sky and asked God if He really means what the Mulla says. Will he and his family suffer likely till death? Do the people keep spitting on them whole their life? What if some other day they fail to get to their targets? Will they again be kept hungry and brutalized?
All in all, children are the shadows of God, legends say. If we tease the shadows of God, how would He be pleased up there? If we cannot help them out, we are not meant to enhance their worrisome. Everyone has self-respect, be it a child. How would we feel if one spits on us or drag us in front of a huge crowd?
The very little souls are stuck in a dilemmatic realm: if they beg, they are tortured by the public and if they do not beg, they are tortured by their fathers. In such difficult times, if we do not support them, then who else will do it for them?
Hence, local bodies of every district need to be very active in this regard. If any child beggar is found, there must be a whole background research on them_ specially on what compels them to beg. Beside this, all the social working communities of their respective areas should rise up to help the children out of this bad dream and get them to schools. Collectively, we can do more.