Vasant 2023 Stories - Kakar Jahangir


Be you more honored

By Kakar Jahangir


We took them for beggars but they were not because they did not beg!

The two of them, the boy and the girl, were florists. They had some red colored garlands around their wrists and were running hither and thither to make their selling. The boy aged merely eight while the girl, from her physical apparel, a little older than him-perhaps a year or two.

The boy had flattop hair and wearing a dog-eared Shalwar Qameez with his feet going longer than required into his worn out flip flops. His attire did not match to his size and this showed his mother’s inevitable compulsions superimposed by both time and space to adhere to the universal principle of helplessness: one size fits all.

The girl who aged perhaps ten or eleven had braids but unevenly interwoven that either showed her mother’s morning haste while doing her hair or simply the inexperienced innocent hands of herself who may have tried making the hair into braids since it were so much liked by her. She had the rosy cheeks and a considerably good height-taller than her age though shorter than her deserved health. A scarf went around her head covering her hair to complement the societal norm of chastity and purity. Hers was a society that demanded chastity of the women folk no matter how impure or pestilent the other gender was.

It was late night and almost everything was wet under the sea dew. The wind blew with romantic rhythm and was adding poetical sedation to the orderly night. The roads were wet enough to glimpse as if it had rained while the tree leaves waved to the wind. The aroma of the dew on the soil and the trees was scenting the ambient airs with somewhat pleasant odor.

This part of the Defense Housing Scheme of Karachi was a bustling part of the town cremated with affluence: an affluence of material fullness showing everyone had everything. Simultaneously, there was absolute absence of everything and everyone seemed having nothing. This was for the social divides amongst the common people-The Humans. Amid this paradox of haves and have nots, time was not independently ticking and life did not have the same fair pace for all. But, still, time ticked and life moved on.

As we stopped by, the boy and the girl came rushing to our vehicle. At first, we took them for child beggars and hushed them away. As we waited for the café-man to come to us to take down our orders, we found the waiter could not give audience to us due to the host of people and the visible distance. We did horn twice and thrice but could not get a load of the waiter.

‘You, boy…first go and fetch us the waiter and then I will consider giving you some money’, said one of my friends to the little boy who was buoying around us cheerfully.

He rushed to the café but was stopped by the security guard from making any further headway who was deputized, as per the standard operating procedures, to do so and keep up the equation unequal by disallowing the boy from crossing a certain line beyond which his existence was unacceptable and undesirable.
The boy, being stopped, could not stand this because he had committed with my friend to have him fetched the waiter. He had his plans and intentions to bring about. As he had his own commissioned task so at a good distance, he started yelling at the café-man, ‘waiter! Come here…you are being called here’.

Having felt that he did not convey the message audibly, he next whistled at him and it was such a fine little innocently shrieking whistle! The whistle did not either let us the waiter. He yelled again and tried to go ahead beyond the guarded line but was not being let to do so by the guard.

There was a police patrolling car parked nearby. The little boy looked at the car and then looked at the guard and all of a sudden raised alarms giving out the siren sound from his mouth like a polished ventriloquist. The guard was astonished for a while and mealy mouthed and a face paled in fun looked around. He was startled and he thought he was the guard with the gun and the police car was the myth which further actuated his fictional supremacy and all the little boy was doing was using the same myth to break him with. He was belittled and the little boy of just less than eight years had him completely capitulated. Being disgusted by the little child, he retreated from his position of protecting the fictional no-go-beyond-line with a personality in distorts.

While this brouhaha lasted for a tiny bit of time, the boy had won us the waiter’s attention. As the boy and the girl saw the waiter coming towards our vehicle, they rushed back to us being satisfied that the mission they were commissioned with was successfully, though tiresomely, accomplished.

‘I frightened the guard by making that siren sound, you noticed that’, the little boy said with gushing deep laughter, one such that erupted from within his inner most soul and one such that surfaced by so little measures like the tip of an iceberg while the leftover remained deep within his existence which he was destined to capitalize within for quite some time ahead. This happiness of triumph having won over the guard was so glaringly seen on his face.

He continued to say, ‘the guard thought he would frighten me with his gun and his roar’ and with an increasing tone of laughter continued, ‘…but i instead frightened him’.

We were now engrossing in this chit chat. He was so welcoming and we felt as if we have known each other for quite a good chunk of time.
‘Where are you from? You speak Pashto’, asked my friend.

The boy said, ‘I am from Afghanistan’.

‘Where from Afghanistan?’ asked my friend and the boy said chomping, ‘I hardly have any clue of that but my mother knows about which part of Afghanistan we are from’. He paused for a while and looked around and looking back at us with confidence said, ‘But all that I am told and all that I know and more importantly all that I need to know is that I am from Afghanistan’.

‘She is my cousin. Her mother has passed away and she dwells with us now. Her nickname is Mammie’, he looked towards her and thought he was successful having made mockery of her person by telling us her nickname.

The little beautiful girl instead of shying stood firm and seemed proudly contended of her nickname.

‘Can you tell me his nickname’ asked my friend.

‘Well, he does not have any such significant nickname to be told’, she replied with an exceptionally accomplished confidence that seemed older than her age would both allow and provide for.

The girl stayed behind and was looking at us with a shine in her eyes which was matchless of any brightness. There was still so much of hope and so much of life in her two little beautiful eyes which were still brimming with desires, wishes and great expectations. Her eyes were piercingly twinkling and at times it seemed those little two eyes had in them the far distant twinkling stars as they are seen in the extensively large night sky which has no known or definite contours and thus no possible measurements either.

She was pragmatically demonstrating it right before us that no matter how substantially large enough the night sky be, it takes only one little twinkling star to illuminate it. She was proving that ‘how far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world’.

She was smiling and her smile was making a mockery of us signifying a deep underlying message conveying us, ‘how base are you people, how insignificant and how dependable! What is to do with such a life that has no fervor and has only materials to sustain it? You are such a stock of idiots that you perceive life in terms of some tools and utensils, haves and have nots and you think these materials are the life while the life which you need to relish remains lost amid the numberless tools and materials you ponder with. How wretched and how poor you people are who have lost the life and are deceived by the variables upon which the singularity of life does not in reality rest!’.

The shine in her eyes, the calmness on her face and the liveliness in her smile together tossed us to the abysmal depths of shame and broke our proudly held myths of life. We thought for a moment, ‘was it really the life we were living? If so, where were its glitter; its glimmer; its flicker; its exultation and its sense, sensitivity and sensibility’.

‘So what do the two of you do in this part of the town and where is your home’, my friend further inquired.

We were now daring to look into their life which is always so perturbing as eavesdropping over their feelings and emotions. There are more than seven billion people in the world each having thousands of stories. This life and this world is such an epic collection of stories that no writing genre has the ability to manuscript them and no painter either has the canvass or the mastery to draw them in lines and colors. What could be the collective emotional impact of all these stories taking place on Mother Earth…only the Mother Earth could tell and only if it could!

‘Our home is in Sohrab Goth and we are florists’ laughed the boy, ‘we sell these garlands here. You should buy one of them. It is so beautiful. I am sure you will love it’.

My friend took a note of thousand rupees and gave it to the boy.

‘Well, you have to take this garland because we are not beggars!’, said he grinning at us.

Their confidence and strength of character could not be described merely in mere words which has its acute limitations. They were smiling and laughing while communicating with us and cared for nothing around them. They were not like the beggar children whose eyes are shrouded in deep sense of loss with no glitter; whose smiles are killed by loss of self dignity; whose persons are tarnished by filths of rejection and whose existences loom around like living corpses.
This boy and this girl demanded all the respect they deserved. They commanded the attention duly to be granted to any modest person. They stood firm and they stood deep, deeper than the so called established depths of roots we thought we had.

The dew of the night was becoming heavier. The wetness was becoming more soaking. The roads were wet enough to seem as if it had rained and our wind screen was occupied by the phenomenon of mist. The sea breeze was becoming more romantic. The night was getting thickened and the boy and the girl had turned us numb!

We were thinking what stuff their creatures were made of? Where did this freedom of self come from? Where were these seeds of independence grown? What was this wanton happiness? Where was this clarity of life? Where was this fearlessness of time and space? Where was this existence manufactured?
We could not find the answers, until then.

My friend ignited the engine of his luxury car and we began to bid them farewell. While we began to leave, the boy also bid us farewell.

‘Ok, kids now we have to go. It was so good to have met you people’ my friend told them while putting his foot on accelerator.

‘May you be more honored! Good Bye’, the boy said.

We were broken the second time that night. The first break was when the little boy and girl told us they were not beggars and the second break was now when they were telling us who exactly they were!

After all the good we thought we did to them and we very well realized they took it with respect and accepted our love and kindness, here was their farewell-wishing gesture for us saying, ‘Be you more honored’.

We then understood where the shine in their eyes, the calmness on their faces and the liveliness in their smiles came from.
It came from Honor and Respect!


Kakar jahangir is a civil Servant and independent analyst freelancing based in Quetta, Balochistan.


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