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August 18, 2019

Nothing to celebrate on Eid for a ‘Pardesi’

Karachi

August 18, 2019

Javid Ali Shah was 17 when he left his home in Kohat in 2005 for Karachi to pursue his dream. He had just passed his matriculation and got admission to a college here. Having grown up, he started feeling bad to ask his family for money to make ends meet. “I started a part time job at a company as a computer operator. I would go to the Federal Urdu University in the morning and after that I would go to the work,” he says.

“I wanted to become a banker. That’s why I chose BS economics,” he says.

“I applied for a job at many places but faced rejection. It was a hard time. But I had to do something and among the available ones, the most suitable option for me at that time was to get involved in the family business.” Now, he runs an air-conditioners repairing and maintenance shop.

Life away from home has been difficult for Shah. It has been almost 14 years since he left Kohat but at times even today, it is difficult for him to control his emotions. “Sometimes it feels like, I am just alone in this city. There’s one else because of nobody to talk to,” he says. “Even our Eid days are like ordinary days or maybe worst. Perhaps because everybody is celebrating and we are not.”

During this meaty Eid, he had to face multiple challenges: rain, immobility and unavailability of food. “I wanted to go for shopping on Chand Raat but couldn’t go because streets and roads were inundated. There was no electricity. And on Eid days, the restaurants where I usually ate were also closed. I could only find fast food which is relatively expensive and I don’t even like it.”

“There has been meat and its dishes around almost everywhere but not for us. Even the family living next door to us, which had bought a big cow to sacrifice on Eid, didn’t send us anything. Usually people tend not to interact with bachelors living in the neighbourhood. We don’t have friends either. So we keep it to ourselves and try not to think over this.”

First it is hard to find a place as a bachelor and after that it is even hard to live there, he said. “People don’t rent out spaces to a person without a family. The easily available spaces are unlivable. There is a social stereotype about bachelors which causes many problems.”

He believed that if the government or private sector provided spaces like hostels to people like him, the problem can be considerably solved. “At least we will have people with similar feelings with whom we will be more comfortable.”

“About this particular Eid, I feel that people should review their norms. They should at least care about their neighbours. People love to sacrifice animals to please God but they forget that they should not annoy people. They leave the blood and the unneeded parts of the animals out there in streets. Already the government machinery is inefficient to maintain the drainage and sanitation system in the city.”

Despite living in the city for over a decade, Shah still feels alienated. He uses the Urdu term ‘Pardesi’ for himself. The word Pardesi is usually used for people who are away from their countries, who our state recognises as aliens, but it literally means people away from their home, he says.

“I am a Pakistani, I live in the same country, but I have felt at many instances in my life that the feeling of being in your own land is a privilege that many of us don’t have.”

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