It was a hot Sunday afternoon and Abdul Hameed, a man in his late 70s was busy completing his duties as a housekeeper in this huge lodge located in Gulshan e Iqbal, Block 6, Karachi.
He was born in India and migrated to Pakistan when he was still a toddler. Abdul had two elder brothers and a younger sister. While explaining his early days in the country he said, “My mother always told that we were quiet rich in India but it seemed like we were not welcome when we reached Pakistan. We had to sleep in a non-walled shelter for three months.”
Soon after the death of his mother, Abdul was forced to leave the house the family had somehow managed to acquire and his sister was forcefully married by his elder brothers.
Homeless and uneducated Abdul had to sleep on footpaths for most part during the time and for food had to rely on charity from mosques and shrines. Yet he did not lose heart and remained enthusiastic to make the most out of his journey on this planet.
A keen observer Abdul commenced his practical life as a laborer. Despite being underweight and weak, Abdul used to lift bricks and take them to different floors. While explaining his struggle he says that, “I never spent my daily wages. Moreover, I looked for opportunities to eat free food every night”.
Soon he was able to save enough to get married and rent a small apartment. Following his marriage he started working as a painter. The next few years saw him become a father to two daughters and two sons. Abdul ensured that all his children were able to receive education.
As time passed, Abdul and his family shifted to a comparatively better place where to earn money he started cleaning cars. He used to get up at Fajr and then leave home to work after that. While elaborating on the experience he says, “The customers were very humble at times but then there were those who were really harsh and were difficult to satisfy”.
Years later Abdul got his daughters married on the same day. His sons wanted to help the ageing parents and began working after they had completed matric. Explaining the episode he says, “Once the sons entered the practical life I asked my wife to stop working and stay home since she was getting old.”
He further says, ”Next, one of my friends told me that there’s a vacancy for a house keeper in a well-furnished guest house. I went to talk to the owner and he offered me an equivalent amount to what I use to earn from the car wash. I was quick to accept the offer because it was a house job”.
Abdul was cutting grass with a manual tool while I was leaving with my parents for the monthly grocery around 11 in the morning. We came back around 4 in the evening. It was extremely hot and therefore, we were shocked when we found out that he had not taken a break and was still working.
My father asked me to give him a small amount with a bottle of juice. I did what I was told to but couldn’t help asking that why did he have to work that hard, especially when his sons were employed too? He replied back saying, “My sons have asked me to stop work and rest but then it is this work that allows me to keep going!”
This made me realize that people like him are indeed as good as super heroes and that Abdul without a doubt remains to be the “real man of steel.”