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Aik Rupiya

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

If you are a frequent visitor of the 6th-Road-chowk of Rawalpindi’s Murree Road, then you must have seen him at least once.

“I have known him for a long period of time,” Imran was telling me, when he saw my face filled with a curious surprise on his act of giving a rupee-coin to an almost bald, old man. “He always asks for a rupee, and takes nothing else you would like to give him.”

That was my first encounter with that old man… about two years back when I got admission in the university. Imran told me that he and his ex-classmates of his ex-college had been giving that old man 1-rupee coins quite regularly. I don’t know why but I liked that old fellow — almost nil hair on his head, round and chubby face, few bruised teeth, slightly short stature, and wearing shalwar qamiz. And that aura of energy which radiated from his active body. I couldn’t notice it when I met him for the first time… I was too surprised by his frank tone in which he had greeted us and then demanded a rupee.

6th-road chowk is always full of beggars. Professional beggars, I should say. Some would pretend to have a half-cut arm, some would just come and ask you to help them in their own style. “Allah tujhay kamyab karay, Allah teri muradan poori karay, Allah chaand si dulhan de” (“May Allah award you with success, may Allah fulfil your dreams, may Allah bless you with a beautiful bride!”) and etc etc. I once heard a beggar calling out loud outside a mosque, “Allah parrha likha qabool karay!” Help me with the translation here, I couldn’t find such words which could translate this sentence with all its flavour.

Anyway, today we three (Wse, Imran and I) were walking towards the university when we heard a familiar call, “Aik rupiya, baccha!” (“A rupee, kid!”)

We smiled, seeing the old man again. Imran took out a coin and handed it over to the old man. We were about to pass when he stopped me, “Tu bhi de na aik rupiya!” (“A rupee from you too”).

I took out my wallet and scanned it for a rupee-coin, only to find none. I pulled a Rs. 5 note.

“Take it, baba ji,” said Imran, “and return 4 rupees!”

Baba ji peeped into my wallet, noticed a Rs. 50 note, and then snatched those five rupees from my hand. “Chal, tu ameer aadmi hai!” (“Well, you are a rich fellow!”)

We laughed. What else could we do?


old man

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chic farpoint

Jul 15, 2003 at 11:41 pm

nice post.. relayed such a heavy topic so light heartedly.. my first visit to india was soo eye-opening– its not until you’re in that environment that you realize what sheer poverty and begging entails.

aala hazrat

Jul 16, 2003 at 1:31 am

i never give money to anyone … it is better to let them stand on their own feet … than to give then crutches … very hard to stop yourself … but you have to do it …


Jul 16, 2003 at 2:18 am

what came first, the chicken or the egg?


Jul 16, 2003 at 2:48 am

i agree with arshe; very well-written post, bro. some of my mother’s family live in Rawalpindi, in Pirwadhaee to be exact, and even their lifestyle is soo bare by my standards. and then going out to the street, whether in pindi or in the surrounding villages of the area where i live, and it’s soo difficult to reconcile the poverty and hopelessness with the relative wealth we ourselves have. Allahu alim.


Jul 16, 2003 at 11:44 am

Well, the worst part of all this is, that a real needy person gets nothing. People have stopped believing in anybody’s story (no matter how real that may be), only because of those ‘professionals’ wandering around … after all, you can’t look inside a man’s heart to see what the truth is …


Jul 16, 2003 at 2:13 pm

Which university do you study in?


Jul 16, 2003 at 6:08 pm

i think ive seen that baba ji! but im not sure, i used to go to my univ. on six road also, BIIT, what about you?? i wonder if you have seen the fat kid in dubai plaza who also begs and keeps following you.


Jul 16, 2003 at 7:22 pm

Did you say BIIT? I study there! :D

They have shifted the campus now, although it’s still a minute’s walk away from Dubai plaza. And that fat kid: I was followed by a kid once, but he wasn’t fat … may be all that running around made him go less on his weight.


Jul 16, 2003 at 7:24 pm

And Hala, BIIT = Barani Institute of Information Technology…


Jul 16, 2003 at 10:34 pm

yeah i know the building has changed n its much better,i was one of the pioneers of biit, the first batch.!!!
Mr. khattak teaching u anything?? hahaha.


Jul 16, 2003 at 10:42 pm

this is why i love the online world. six degrees of separation and all. haha. =)

chic farpoint

Jul 17, 2003 at 11:43 am

its a small world afterall


Jul 17, 2003 at 8:15 pm

Yeah, a real small world …

And eXcalibur, we haven’t had Mr. Khattak as our teacher yet! But I’m looking forward to when it happens!


Jul 24, 2003 at 8:56 am

Haven’t lived in Satellite Town for 19 years now, but I did visit Commercial Center and 6th Rd last December when I was in Pakistan.

Obviously I don’t remember this babaji but beggars have been common in that area for a long time.


Oct 28, 2003 at 2:28 pm

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