Life in Tatters: A Story of the Oppressed

Author:    Saeed Ahmad Sandhu

Pattoki tehsil Kasur district is ethnically and linguistically diverse. People of different sects, creeds and identity live here. It has several villages in it. The diversity occurred especially after the blood-stained division of the Indian Subcontinent. People from the different parts of India migrated to the town and villages of Pattoki. We have a real life story to narrate.
The village of Gharyala Chak 28 is situated about 6 kilometers in the north of Pattoki city. The majority of the village comes from the Sandhu clan of the Jats, the Indo-Aryan race. They speak in a unique dialect of the Punjabi language which makes them distinctive from the rest of the Punjabi speakers of the area. They are full of exuberance of life which makes this village a lively place. Islamic and regional festivals are celebrated with zest. Shrine fairs are a characteristic feature of the village.
In the year 1962, Bashir was a born in a poor lower caste family of Gharyala. Bashir’s father Malik Boota was a traditional peasant of a Punjabi village. He owned half an acre fertile land with some cattle. Bashir had four elder sisters named Anam, Maryam, Alisha and Eiman.
The birth of a boy is considered enormously important in the Punjabi culture. When Bashir was born Boota was so excited that he distributed sweets in his neighborhood. As time was passing Boota was bearing the burden of four daughters his son and wife Skina.
Boota’s earnings were meagre as he had a half acre land. As the family was growing, the difficulties were going towards the critical stage. Bashir was only five years now but his eldest sister Anam was of sixteen years. Boota was worried about his daughter`s marriage. Boota did not send any of his daughters to school although there was a primary school in the village. Boota sent Bashir to school for his primary education.
In 1970 Boota had a sigh of relief when had his two daughters Anam and Maryam got married. They were married in the simplest wedding festival. They were gifted with simple formal dowry. Now Boota was very much hassle-free as two daughters were gone to their in laws peacefully. Now he was saving money for his daughters Alisha and Eiman.
After the 1971 war between India and Pakistan, things started to worsen in Pakistan. It effected the entire Pakistani nation badly. Pakistani economy suffered a huge set back after the creation of Bangladesh from East Pakistan. After the Partition of India there was another genocide of the Muslims of the Indian sub-continent. Language and power dilemma strrped Pakistan its major wing.
In a war-ridden country, the rich was becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer day by day. Bashir passed his fifth standard exam. For further studies there was no facility in the village. If he had wished to carry on his studies, he had to go to the city of Pattoki. Boota was unable to bear his expenses. He asked him to put an end to his educational career.
Now he was working along with his father in fields. His sisters Alisha and Eiman were of 12 and 14 years of age. They started doing embroidery work in their house to fund their father. In 1981 both daughters and son were to be married. A girl Ayesha from their brotherhood was a teacher in Govt. school. Ayesha’s family wanted that marriage of Bashir and Ayesha must take place and the couple was also agreed to marry. But Bashir’s family wanted a Watta Satta marriage. It’s a kind of wedding in which the brother and sister of a family marry the brother and sister of the other family. Ayesha’s parents were not agreed to do so.
Malik Boota decided that the marriage of Bashir and his daughters must be done with grandeur. He vouchsafed his half acre land and married Bashir and his daughters. Bashir was married in city Pattoki Mohalla Raza Abad. Bashir jointed Army after one year of his marriage in 1986. Boota was relying upon the income of cattle and salary of Bashir which was insufficient compared with the ever increasing inflation in the country.
Completing his life circle, Boota died in 1989. The entire burden of his family came upon Bashir’s shoulders. In 1990 Bashir decided to leave the Army and came home. Now he started working as a laborer in the vegetable market of the city of Pattoki. He loaded and unloaded the fruits and vegetables on his shoulders.
Another migration occurred in their family following the bloody migration from India. He decided to migrate to the Pattoki city. He sold his land and house from village Gharyala and settled in Raza Abad locality of Pattoki.
Now a day’s Bashir has three daughters but unfortunately he has no son. He has turned 54. He is a patient of Asthma. He is unable to walk along smoothly. He still comes to vegetable market, as where he spent his youth as a Paly Dar (the manual worker) but now he cannot carry his own body. His wife Sobia also carrying his body with trouble. She is suffering from a knee disease also. Bashir has no money for his medicine. How he can marry his three young daughters Amna, Naila and Khadija. He is not a bagger but his plight is heart-rending. Every passing moment is hard pill to swallow for the poor man.
Man tries to find solace by satisfying himself in various ways. He has stopped thinking but some questions keep on striking his mind. Some of the decisions which are done on the basis of rituals and emotions hit back badly. He thinks if he had married Ayesha, the school teacher, they would have been in comfort. Secondly if he had continued the Army job, he would have been getting the pension and other benefits. Then there is another issue. He does not have a son. He could have shared his burden of existence.

Intro: Mr Saeed Ahmad Sandhu is an Assistant Sub Inspector in the Punjab Police conducted by PCS. He has done masters in English. He has a taste for literature and is a sound reader of fiction. He will contribute regularly as a writer.

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