Baano – With Her School Bag on a Traffic Signal

Kareem sell toys, street to street in Karachi, to make life for himself and his small family. He lives in the slums with his wife Khadija, a six year old daughter Baano, and a 2 year old son Khaleel. The roof of his house is built with tree roots which leaks water during the torrential rains. The walls are built with loose-sand that absorbs the heat from the scorching sun. It’s harder for the family to survive in the Summer. Even the Winter are not comfortable, as the family owns only one light-torn quilt.

Supportive Parents are a Blessing

With all these hardships, Kareem forces her daughter Baano to study, so that she doesn’t suffer like her father. Kareem wanted to live his dream through his children. He earns on daily wages to fulfill the needs of household. Khadija saves money to pay fees for Baano’s school. Kareem is lucky to marry Khadija. They both understands each other.

Baano need tuition to compete with other children of her class in the school. At the age of six, she understands the conditions of her family. She knows that her father is working hard to earn for her school fees. At the same point, she cannot beat her classmates without the help of a tutor. She finds it hard to disclose the need of tuition to her parents. Kareem and Khadija are illiterate. They cannot understand this scar of the society themselves. According to them, schooling is a complete package for Baano. When Baano explains her father in her low stammering voice, he promised to work extra hours to save money for the tutor. Kareem is the hero of Baano.

Kareem took another area in the vicinity of selling toys which adds extra 3 hours to his schedule. It’s tiring, but Kareem saw the dedication in the eyes of his daughter. He believes in Baano. This belief motivates Kareem to reduce his tiredness during the extra work hours. The efforts seen worthy and Kareem could save some money for Baano’s tuition fees. Baano is happy to know that she can get a tutor to help her in the studies.

Weekends are Treat

Weekends are good for Kareem to sell more toys. He normally saves more money with the extra earning to weekends. Children in the parks and streets buy more toys on weekends than usual. Kareem take extra toys with him, and he gets more money in fewer hours than a normal working day where he needs to roam street after street.

Life is beautiful for Kareem and his family. Even with lesser money, they lives in peace. One Friday, a strike and two days mourning announced at the murder of a political leader. All shops are forced-closed. People stays at home watching television. It disturbs the schedule of Kareem for that weekend. He wasn’t able to make any sales. It was the last week of the month. Kareem needs money to pay fees for Baano’s tuition. He felt helpless.

Beggar with the Bag

On the very next Monday, Khadija decided to take help from the neighbors and relatives in the locality. Everyone was the victim of strike in the slums. When all doors of hope are closed, Khadija loses her mind. While Kareem was on his schedule to sell toys, Baano took her school bag on the shoulders, tied the two little ponies, wore her light brown round-frame glasses, held the hands of Khadija & Khaleel, and came out on a traffic signal. Baano started begging with her school bag to pay her tuition fees.


Editor’s Note: This story is fiction and characters of the story are added to portray a girl wearing her school bag seen at a traffic signal in Karachi with her mother and younger brother.

Waseem Abbas

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