With nothing to call home, family of 5 has its dreams
HASHIM, WHO IS AFFLICTED WITH POLIO, SENDS THREE KIDS TO SCHOOL
■ CHANDIGARH: On a pavement, a few yards from Nehru Park at Sector 22, nineyear-old Kalim is busy combing his hair. By his side are his younger siblings — Salim, 8, and Sakeena, 7, — getting their bags in shape to attend school, just a walk away.
After taking a last-minute stock, the three set off, waving at their parents - Mohammad Hashim and Munni.
Watching his children enter the school, Hashim calls himself a happy man. “What else can I expect? My wife and I are illiterate, but our children go to school,” says Hashim, his eyes filled with contentment.
Hashim, who is afflicted with polio and cannot walk, has been living on the pavement with his wife and children at Sector 22 for eight years. “Life has not been easy since I came to the city from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh,” Hashim says.
Nine years ago, Hashim and Munni arrived in Chandigarh with their eightmonth-old baby, Kalim. The couple had few belongings. They only carried a bag full of clothes, a little money and lots of hope.
Aiming for a better life in Chandigarh, Hashim and Munni struggled for months to find work. With a family to feed and no job in sight, Hashim took to begging. Later, Munni started working as a domestic help in the neighbourhood.
“I saw Munni with a small baby in rags while going to the temple one day. I asked her if she would work in my house. She gladly accepted the offer. Since that day, I have adopted them and it gives me satisfaction to share with them whatever I have,” said Nirmal Kaur, a resident of Sector 22.
With the children in school, Hashim has now given up begging. He sells used garments on the roadside at the Sector-22 market.
“It is difficult to make ends meet. We don’t earn much to have a proper shelter to live in. Our only aim is to educate our children well and make them able citizens,” says Munni.
“Didi (Nirmal Kaur) started giving us ration and clothes and she continues to help us to this day. We will always be grateful to her.”
But, as the family continues to live on the pavement with no roof overhead, changing weather is the biggest hurdle.
Hashim says rain brings misery. “We hang polythene sheets and tie them to the ends of the tree. That way some portion stays dry. At times, when the weather is at its extreme, we pack the house and go somewhere else.”
Meanwhile, at the government high school in the sector, the three children are happy attending classes.
“The children are doing reasonably well in studies. We take proper care and ensure that they have books. Given their background, the children and their parents have shown resolve,” says Seema Sharma, a teacher in the school.