* Ahead of Fathers Day today, Daily Times spent an afternoon with some men who have been forgotten
Text by Razzak Abro
Photos by Akbar Baloch
There is a certain look a man gets when he knows he is not needed any more. That is the look you will find in the eyes of the men who have been left at the Edhi Village, either because their children could not look after them or did not want to look after them any more.
“My married daughter came to see me with her relatives a few days ago,” said Ismail Qasim of Nayabad, Khadda Market, Hyderi Road. “She said that now they would only come to take me when I go to my grave.” He was brought to the Edhi village by some relatives and it appears that he may have a psychiatric condition.
There are about 175 senior citizens in the Elders ward at the Edhi Village which houses 1,000 people. Khalid Jamali, who is in charge, told Daily Times that some children give the explanation that their parents are mentally ill. Others say they are creating problems at home. Some say they don’t have the space. One man dropped his father off simply because he was being difficult when he was at office. “About three of them have attempted suicide over the last few months,” Jamali said.
But not all of the men at the ward are ill. Many were in reasonably good health but were still abandoned sometimes even without an explanation. Mirza Tossiq Baig, for example, still does not know why he was brought to the Edhi Village two months ago. About fifteen days ago, his eldest son came and said that he could return home to North Karachi but only after taking leave from the home. He says he used to work as a PIA assistant manager.
Moosa Abdul Haji used to live at Tariq Mansion, near Hydri Market, but hailed from Marwari, India. He said his son and daughter are still there and he was brought to the Edhi Village by a nephew two months ago. His story is unclear. But what is clear is that he wants to go back. When asked to whom, he replies that he has another nephew who will take him in.
Ashiq Ali said his sons brought him there after a domestic dispute. Ali used to work at a hospital and his three sons are reasonably successful; one has his own business, another works at a school and the third is a music director. His wife had sought khula from him in 1984. Ziarat Shah, who hails from Sawabi, was mentally ill but capable of discussing his life. He said his son brought him to the centre and no one visits him now.
The pain of abandonment cuts the deepest. Seventy-year-old Mohammad Muslim put his son through university in Dhaka but now the boy doesn’t even answer to messages. “He didn’t come even when I said I wanted to discuss his younger sister’s wedding,” he said with tears in his eyes. Muslim works as an employee at the Edhi Village but barely makes enough for a dowry and dinner for 100 guests. “I cannot curse my sons but they have hurt me so much.”
Sunday, June 15, 2008