The Absent Fathers
“Those honorable caretakers”
I like playing with Sahab jee and Begum Sahiba"s young son. Every morning he gives me a hug, he calls me Uncle. I take him to school. He is such a nice, well behaved kid, reminds me of my younger son back in my Village. Yeah I have 4 kids, two sons and two daughters. The live in my village with my wife, my father and my mother in Khyber Pakhtun Khuaw province in the northern part of the country. There are not many good paying jobs available in my area so I had to move to Karachi to look for a job. I have been living in this city for almost 12 years. I came here as an 18 year old with my father and learned driving cars. My father moved to Karachi when I was 5 years old, he was unable to find a job in our area and he had many people to take care of; parents, wife and two children, younger siblings. I remember he used to send us letters, my mom used to cry after reading every letter. He came to visit us once every year for five or six weeks. He was a driver with a family in Karachi who lived in a big house. They had given one of their servant quarters to my dad to live in.
My Abu sent money to us every month, we were able to build more rooms in the house with it. Abu worked with the family for 15 years then he became sick. He suffered two heart attacks and was unable to work. I was 18 years old at that time, I went to Karachi to stay with Abu jee and took care of him. Abu jee taught me how to drive a car. After I got my liscence he went back to the village and I started working in his place.
I was happy that my mother would not cry and that my father would be with her and my younger brother all the time. I was also scared in the big city with so many cars, people, big traffic lights and noise. I did not know anyone...
As time passed I made friends. I went back home after a year with lots of gifts for every one. My parents and younger brother were very happy to see me. After few days my mother said next time when you will come home, you should get married.
"Why, not now, I can’t," I replied.
"I don't want another woman live alone without her husband, children miss their father every day of the year, who they meet after every 10 or 11 months,” I can't do it to myself.
"But for how long,” said mother.
I got married to a distant cousin next year. Left my wife live in the village with my family. It’s been almost 12 years I am father now, I see my family just once a year. I tried once to find a small apartment so I can call them to Karachi. I earn Rs 18,000 I cant afford an apartment in this city and keep my family here. Living is not very expensive in my village and my family lives in my ancestral house.
I miss my family every day, I wonder how long will this cycle continue? Will my son do the same?
Many people from many small villages travel everyday to Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. They all leave their families back and make this journey to earn money for their better future.
Every year thousands of Pakistanis move to Middle-East or Persian Gulf in search of better, high paying jobs. They too leave their loved ones back home.When will our country will have enough good paying jobs for every citizen in every small town. When will all the fathers stay with their children, every day of every year...