My name is Allah Ditta and you may probably have judged me by my name already; I belong to the lowest strata of human beings in Pakistan. I know you must be quick at making opinions about me and would ironically forget a fact. I am still a human being though I have no bank balance, or any note-worthy business to brag about and sadly, no education to be any prestigious in your eyes, but I do one thing to my merit- I work hard! Yes, I work around the clock so I could make ends meet for my four children and my ailing wife. But is that enough?
I sell balloons. I bring smiles to a lot of cherubic faces. And though I only earn peanuts for money, I stay honest at all times. I don’t steal. I don’t rob; I don’t beg and never adapt any illicit means to add to my meager sum so far. But it’s not easy to carry that big, hefty rack of balloons on my hunched back under the scorching sun that shows no mercy to me as well. The point I want to make is, I work really hard but to what avail? I still starve, not just for food but the smiles of my own children. How would it hurt for a man who goes around selling smiles to other children, to have his own devoid of it.
Self-pity makes me want to believe I’m the only victim of time and conditions, but it would be grossly wrong to assume that. There are hundreds and thousands of people out there, who like me, are hunger-stricken and terribly deprived. And while all strategists and politicians are tangled in sorting out remedies for terrorism, foreign affairs, female empowerment, our only problem is a small meal two times a day. My children can only stare at other children going to school with envious eyes and gloomy hearts but I can still live with this only if I’m sure I’d manage to get them the meal for tonight.
Well-wishers ask me to get a better job. I just wish I could, for I’m not even educated enough to be hired as a clerk (even the minimum qualification for clerks is Intermediate these day). And how could I ever meet this criterion, for just like myself my father could barely afford to feed me let alone sending me to school.
Poverty has made me do things that you see as abominations. I beat my wife each time she whines about money for I can’t bear the resonance of her voice cursing me for her empty-stomach. I shrug my children off when they come to me asking for money and though I’m a father, I turn my back on them so I won’t have to see their famished faces.
And while these politicians discuss me on their plush sofas, I can hardly afford tatters to sleep on. Then you ask me to choose my vote carefully so some other big shot could win for the office, chanting the slogan of change. How do they plan to “change” my life and of my family? And how long would I have to wait for them to do something for me and for my likes? For a man who lives his life on a day-to-day basis, I can’t wait anymore. If I could, I’ll sell my vote if it gets me something to eat for tomorrow, for there is nothing you and your likes can do for me other than chanting slogans of change and revolution.