A Day in the Life of a Child in Poverty

 In News

Naushad Mitha uses a story of a single child to convey the hardships of many underprivileged lives in Pakistan. ‘It doesn’t cover an actual person’s story, but many,’ says Naushad. ‘Here in Pakistan and many developing countries, this is a very common problem, and I hope I am able to deliver the message through this small piece of work.’

It’s Monday, the first day of the week. I wake up with the rest of the world around me rushing to prepare for the day. Gazing at my wall clock, I decide not to waste any more time.

I head out of my room and walk to the next room, where I try my luck in finding a small box. It takes me twelve minutes to find the box but then, my luck expires. It is empty. With saddened eyes and a broken heart, I do not let my spirits fall and quickly make a run towards the fields.

On my way, I encounter many people who know me mostly because of my daily routine. I greet half of them while sprinting towards the fields so that I don’t miss my ride. I keep up my pace and cover a mile on foot. Then I stop.

There he is, with a sack of rice, a pair of worn-out boots, a calf leather coat, a darkened beard, a hunched back and eyes full of hopes, looking at the horizon and trying to make a reach for it. I stop by him and glance at him with sorrowed eyes while I long to hear his deep voice ask me how I am doing? I would not be able to pluck up the courage to answer him – just to grab his hands and tell him to take care while I am away.

Once again, I break into a run so that I arrive on time. Fifteen minutes later, I reach to the location. Fortunately, I am five minutes early, and with a sigh of relief, I decide to take a rest. There are around thirty other men waiting for the same ride that I want to take. Unfortunately, it is a 25-seater, so a few of us have to manage on our own.

Within a few minutes, it is here, and as I expected, I have to climb on top and ride along to save myself 40 minutes until the next ride comes. I feel the fresh breeze all around me, touching my face and gently drifting my hair. I see the clear sky and the sun, shining in full glory. A 90-minute ride, and then the ride decelerates, and I know I have to step down.

I walk towards the north while everyone else goes east. I make a run for it so that I can join them later. Just another 10 minute walk so I can see it – and there it is. A massive structure with walls, as high as 15 feet. A metal gate polished jet black, shining in the sun. The structure is white, as clear as crystal. I can’t stop myself from gazing at it.

Adding to the beauty, I can see little beings jumping out of their cars, waving their parents and making a run towards the black gate. Their energy lights up the structure even more. Filling my eyes for some time, I then know it is time to go back.

I quickly rush east where the other fellows were going. The tall guy has already started the briefing, and I can only hear his loud voice echoing in my ears. Within minutes, the entire crowd scatters and so do I. Everyone is busy collecting their tools to start off with the work. I pick up a hammer too and head out to join my team.

It is a battle between us and the mighty sun. Shining right on top of our heads, soaking every last drop of sweat in our bodies. After eight hours of an intense and continuous fight, it fails to beat us, yet again.

It is time for all of us to take a rest. We all line up in the cues waiting for our turn. After waiting for 20 minutes, I face the tall guy all by myself. He writes something on the paper and then pulls out a bunch of notes from his pockets and hands over five of them to me, all of different colours.

I grab them and go out to join the people heading towards the bus stop. Another 90-minute ride on the bus, a 45-minute brisk walk in the fields to the most beautiful place on earth with the most beautiful woman alive: my mother.

I rush inside, and it’s all dark. I assume everybody has gone to sleep, but to my surprise, I hear my mom calling my name, and I quickly go to see her. She is sitting beside a small candle with a small plate, asking me to sit down and join her for food.

Before I start, I pull out those multi-coloured notes that I was given by the tall guy and gave them to her. Not to my surprise, she holds my hand and bursts into tears. I feel the warmth of her tears in my palm.

After the meal, I lay my head in her lap while she massages my head. I could spend my entire life having this moment last forever.

I slowly begin to doze off with the thoughts of waking up again in the morning, hoping to find that box and being lucky enough to find a loaf of bread inside, walking through the fields and seeing that old man who is my father and handing him the loaf of bread. Then rushing to catch my ride, getting off to walk to that beautiful structure and watching everything all over again – with hope filling my heart. Then heading back to work, battling the sun to get some colourful notes and then coming back here in my mother’s comfort.

Within seconds, I will fall into a much deep sleep with the hopes of achieving it all, for myself and for them, someday. Goodnight to the world, and goodnight to you all. My name is Shehbaz, and I turned 11 today.

Submitted by Naushad Mitha, a 26 year-old from Pakistan pursuing an ACCA and eager to get a Masters and/or start an NGO. Naushad wrote this blog to promote education and equality.

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