From the Metro Bus; Uncommon Stories of the Common People
BY FAIZAN AHMAD
MENTORS: DIDIER RUEF & SHAH ZAMAN BALOCH
PAKISTAN PHOTO FESTIVAL FELLOWSHIP 2017 PROJECT
This project is an effort at listening and highlighting such stories coming from the diverse passengers of Metro Bus, Lahore. Many of the passengers are visiting Lahore after a long time or for the first time for their work but they are excited to be on the Metro Bus and open to share parts of their lives.
The story Pakistani multi- media tells about its common people has been almost the same in past 17 years. These channels are massively overtaken by politicians, businesses and religious scholars. And the average common person is represented by numbers in which they are affected, not by their stories they live everyday.
This project is an effort at listening and highlighting such stories coming from the diverse passengers of Metro Bus, Lahore. Many of the passengers are visiting Lahore after a long time or for the first time for their work but they are excited to be on the Metro Bus and open to share parts of their lives. Some mention their dream, others talk about how they have been fighting hard in the face of adversity. These stories might not be worthy of a prime time on television talk show, but they are meaningful to many of us and beautiful reminder that we all are the same people and face challenges of life in Pakistan in similar ways.
The story of a single mother of 4, who is fighting her way into educating her sons and working at one of the stations. A men in his mid 40s, who fell in love with a Christian woman and they both had to struggle to make their relationship work and now living the life of his dream while he driving a Rickshaw everyday.
The project is just a small attempt at covering such story towards a greater cause that it is not just about few people involved, it is the people involved showing a bigger truth about themselves and Pakistan.
“I’m a single mother of 4 boys. Before I got this job, my husband divorced me and took my sons to the village. In the village, instead of going to school, they were wasting their time all the day.
It was the worst time in my life as I was unable to bear the expenses of getting my children back through the court.
After this job, I was able to save enough money to get my children back from their father and now they live with me here in Lahore. It’s not easy living here with 4 children, but I work hard all day to give them a better life. I don’t want them to spend their time on the streets, so whenever they go outside, I take them back inside. My relatives and neighbors often criticize me for working together with men at my job, but I don’t care about them because I’m the only source of income for my household and I’m both father and mother to my boys. I am proud of my work.
“My mother died when I was two years old. My father wasn’t earning enough. So, my grandmother sent me to an orphanage in Lahore. There I studied till the sixth grade and moved back to my father who sent me to a Madrassa for Hifz. After completing my Hafiz, I started studying again in school. I surprised my family and friends after passing board exams despite of the two years gap in my studies. Not only I passed the exam but I got good marks too.
During holidays, I learned photography, adobe and MS word. After that I got a job here. My salary is 14 thousands but I earn more than 20 thousands by working double shift. Now I got admission in I-Com. I also help my father by participating in the house income. I buy monthly ration for home.Along with this job, I also do wedding photography.
I don’t waste my time because I know in this age you need to work hard to have a better future.”
“In my entire life I never stopped working. After my high school I joined Pak army and spent 30 years of service in Mansar camp Peshawar. After my retirement I started my own business as an electrician, after getting the business off the ground I gave it to one of my sons. Then I joined Metro and now I work as a security officer here.”
In Army, I was good player of football and volleyball. One day my officer interviewed me and sent me in a competition of race at Lahore Qaddafi Stadium. I ran 13 miles and won the All Punjab Competition. Winning that race got me promoted as a Head Constable. That was the happiest day of my life.”
“Will you believe that I am from Mansehra?
“Yes, I belong to that beautiful heaven. In 2005 earthquake, we lost almost everything. We lost our house and my father’s legs got injured. After that we moved here in Lahore to start a new life. We rented a house. My father did not find a job. Our family could not even afford food. That’s why I moved in madrasa because I can get free food along with the opportunity to learn Quran.
In this period, my mother worked hard to raise our family. She started sewing the clothes of our neighbours. I joined school again and after getting diploma I told my father I’ll help them in the house income. Now I am working in the Metro as generator operator. We have our own 3- marla house in Lahore now, whenever I look back and recall the peaceful days when we were living in Mansehra I cry. I miss living in that peaceful valley and playing on the canal bank and this memory always makes me sad.”
“I fell in love with a girl who was living with her sister. It started with exchanging letters and we used to meet every other day in the street. Later I learned that she was a Christian. I am a Muslim so we both were clueless about our future, but one day she told me that to be my wife she would convert to Islam. We eloped and got married. Some of her relatives claimed that I forced her to be a Muslim and to marry me. She was with me during this difficult time. It took few months to get rid of that case and now we are living a happy life with our children. Whenever I think about those days, it looks like a miracle, how we managed to marry each other and both of us believe that being strong in difficult times makes one stronger. ”