“My father was a tailor, but he was not someone with a vision. For him education wasn’t a priority. For him feeding his family was the top priority. I don’t blame him because he lived in a time where the trend of providing education to one’s children was not as common as it is now. I am illiterate. Until the age of 32, I did not do any permanent work. My father was supporting the family. I would contribute with odd jobs here and there. When my father died, I started taking work seriously. The responsibility fell on me. I learnt how to make patisa from a neighbour. Since then I have been making and selling patisa.
My wife also lends her hand in making the sweet. When I first started making patisa, the cost for making it was 50 paisas. Today, making one patisa costs Rs10. I earn around Rs1,000 a day. I wake up early in the morning and after my prayers, my wife and I get to making patisa. Every day I go to a new locality.
I live in Dhoke Kala Khan in a rented house. I had five children - three sons and two daughters. One of my sons died in a blast in a shrine in Pindoria in Islamabad. He was an electrician. One of my daughters is married. One son sells fruit and vegetables on his cart in Taxila while the younger one is a tailor.
I remember an incident that happened in Gen Ziaul Haq’s tenure. I was there selling my patisa when some army men came and started pushing away the people there. I saw Gen Ziaul Haq coming and I moved away, but he saw me. He called me and asked me what I was selling. Then he told me to distribute the sweets among everyone present there and he gave me Rs2,000, which was a huge amount back then.
Published in Dawn, November 18th, 2017