With noth­ing to call home, fam­ily of 5 has its dreams

HASHIM, WHO IS AF­FLICTED WITH PO­LIO, SENDS THREE KIDS TO SCHOOL

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - Live - - FRONT PAGE - Nee­lam chdlivedesk@hin­dus­tan­times.com

■ 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.

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