Miandad: interview transcript
IFAD Asset Request Portlet
Miandad: interview transcript22 December 2014
Miandad is a farmer living in Akhoon Bandi village, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan. He was 48 when he was interviewed on 16 November 2009 for the Rural Poverty Report 2011. The interview was recorded in the language of Hindko and carried out by a staff member from the Omar Asghar Khan Development Foundation. The interviewer had an existing relationship with the community but was not a professional researcher.
Introduction by interviewer: This interview was held at Baboo Naseem's house where the focus group discussion was held. The house was accessed by a dirt track. Rubbish was piled high along the route leading to the house. It was built adjacent to a mountain, which had a cave that was used as a dwelling in the past and was now used for storing fodder and fuel wood. Miandad appeared melancholy and spoke slowly. He showed a low energy level, and often placed his hand on his forehead during the interview - which expressed his anxiety.
My name is Riaz Khan and I am working at the Omar Asghar Khan Foundation. As mentioned during the group work, the Omar Foundation works with marginalized people and helps to organize them and to amplify their voices for their rights. This is the work of our organization. And I am from Sherwan, and live in Jaral village. Can you please also introduce yourself?
My name is Miandad. My father's name is Allahdad. We work as farmers. Earlier our farming was good. At that time there was sastapai (low cost) fertilizer. The oxen were our own. At that time, there were no tractors. When the tractors came, even then it was good. But, our lives deteriorated, when we made the girl's proposal...
Miandad paji (term meaning "elder brother") tell me about your family.
My family – I tell you, my father was murdered in my childhood.
[Section of testimony which describes circumstances around murder removed prior to publication.]
Tell me about your life... from your childhood to present.
Throughout all my life that I have lived – I have lived in agony. Wherever I wanted [to go], I would go. Like I am sitting with you and you say: "Let's go to Karachi", I will go with you if I am acquainted or friends with you. If you say: "We need to go to Kaghan"... I will go. Even if I am at work, farming or cutting maize, I would still go. Even then I am not worried about home or anything else. If I am worried [about anything] it is about the time of death that is ordained, whether I am at home, or anywhere else I will die. Until today I was not feared by my enemies – the sons of my enemies. Even now I go with them. This is the way I am… I have one son [at home], he is not here now. He would be here but his mother has gone somewhere for condolences, he is cooking a meal at home. One is in school.
How many children do you have?
I have two sons and one daughter [at home]… my [other] daughter is married.
Tell me more about your married daughter?
Well it's like this, that the land that I owned, I mortgaged for 150, 000 rupees (598 US$)1 to arrange the marriage of my daughter. And you know that mothers start making small things at home [for their daughters]. The mother continued making these. And when it came to me, I gave the land for 150,000 rupees and bought furniture, clothes, stove etc [as dowry]. And after that I took money from the bank and arranged to buy a [fuel-driven] flourmill for my son. And this machine that is ours…some people bring us their grain for grinding. And others take it to the [water-powered] flourmill.
I have arranged my son's marriage in the family of my real mamoo (maternal uncle). And they are suggesting we proceed with the marriage, and I am making excuses to them. Well, if I have money then I will do it. We grow garlic, but garlic is not there now – nothing grows. It gets diseased. And there is not enough money to do any other business. I have taken a loan from the bank and set up the flourmill. We repay in instalments of 1,000-1,200 rupees – 1, 200 my son gives in instalments and the rest is used to meet household expenses. This is the situation in our entire family… our entire family. Two or three people have a tractor, and there is no other source of income. Crops do not grow when a person cultivates. Their value is not that much. If there is a [better] rate, there is no water… Garlic costs 6,000-7,000 rupees per maund (40 kg) – now garlic has not grown, the water has dried up. This is the way it is.
Oh, you are talking about the river?
Yes, due to the water in the river. If it dries up, then we depend on rain. As there is no rain, the water has dried up. If it rains then the irrigation system works. But not when there is too much rain. Only when there are moderate rains – only then do the crops grow, this is the situation.2
How did you spend your childhood and reach this stage?
In my childhood, wherever I wanted to go, I could decide to go. And if I felt like it then I did some work, if not then I kept quiet and came home. My chacha (paternal uncle) brought me up, you understand. And chacha married his daughter with me. The person who brought me up, that same person gave me his daughter. Even now, if there is any issue [to deal with], he is there. He is better off now; he has a business. He takes garlic or arum to the market and sells it. Even now, whenever there is some issue, he is there. I, myself, stay quiet and sit still. There is no work. My land is sold. I have just set up a flourmill for my son.
How was the land sold? Is all of it sold?
I only had 5-6 kanals (0.304 ha; 1 kanal = 506m²) land, which have been mortgaged. Now if I repay the loan, then I will take it back. Until I repay, it will stay with him.
Please tell me more about this.
It has been almost two years, about one year and nine months, since I sold my land.
Please tell me about your education.
I am not educated. There was a school in the village where I attended [up to] 3rd-4th class. I am just able to write my name, etc. Apart from that I have done farming. When I became able to do some work, I started working with my chacha. It was he who looked after me. My mother also passed away. She used to sit with me...we were two sons and one daughter. The daughter was given away in marriage. My sister was given away in marriage in Hattar. And we two brothers remained. My chacha arranged both our marriages. Now he works as a watchman in Rawalpindi. And I am at home.
Your father died when you were young?
Yes, I was young – two years old. My other brother was born 40 days after my father's death – the one that is younger than me.
And so after you studied up to the 4th class... what did you do after that?
I did farming.
Tell me more about your farming?
In farming... we cultivate these things – garlic, ginger, arum, etc. – and at the same time also look after my chacha's livestock – oxen, buffalo, etc. At the time that we separated, he separated and made a house for each of us and gave it to us. He made a katcha house (house made from mud) and gave it to us. After that there was a good harvest of garlic. The produce was 150 maund (6,000 kg) of garlic. I sold that and constructed a house. Since then we have never had such a harvest of garlic. Thank God I had built the house, built two houses. These days, it is difficult to make a katcha house. On labour alone, nobody can make it. This was some work, some business. Now I am unemployed. These days, wherever I sit, I sit there. If, any day, I get a daily wage (casual day labour) I take the spade and go. Do you know the spade? Do you understand or not?
YesI do understand.
If someone needs some work done and asks me to come, then I will go. If no one says anything I keep sitting in the house. I go from one place to another – to pass the time. I go to the river. When my son has work, he does it. If not, then he also sits at the machine (flourmill).
Please tell me more about your business.
I told you about my business. This is my business.
How do you run your household?
With the same flourmill. We are not so many people. We are four people in total. My son studies in the 6th class. And the other one is a matric fail (someone who has failed the matriculation exam). I have said to him: "Pass the 10th(matriculation grade)." I have many friends – whoever I speak to about work, they say: "Tell him to pass the 10th"I said to my son that he should pass the 10th – he ran away to Karachi. He goes around and does whatever work is available. When I arranged my sister's marriage, he returned. I said: "You stay here." I said that if there is a problem then it is difficult to come from Karachi. If a person does not have the bus fare, then they have to take a plane. Earnings are what? – at the most 2,000-4,000 rupees. Out there in Karachi, you know, a person's own expenditure is so much. What will you send back? So it's better that you stay here. I will take a loan from the bank and I will set up a flourmill for you. Definitely, do it here.
When there is no grain to grind, you can go with someone on a daily wage, then both father and son will go – and if not, then all is well. There is not that much but we can manage. We will take a loan from someone. "Do something," he said to me this morning. "Ask someone for money and give it to me. I want to get diesel." I said: "How much do you have?" He said: "500 rupees." I said: "Get diesel worth 500 rupees." Now who can I ask? No one gives to me. Friends are close. If there is nothing, then no one gives anything. Bring a little, it is all right… This is business. It is not that what I am saying to you, I am lying to you. I am [not] that kind of person, I do not lie. I am telling you everything clearly. I speak 16 annas correct and true (I am speaking truthfully).
[Section of transcript detailing family dispute related to his father's murder removed prior to publication.]
Nonetheless, was [the murders and family dispute] one of the reasons of your poverty?
Farming was our work. And they had trucks [for transport]. Now these are finished. They had their own lorries – they were a kind of chairmen (referring to owners, hence powerful). And whatever they had – as you were saying before, the government has not done any work here – whatever they received from the government they would make it their own. They would not give it to the people. When it was time to vote [in national or local elections] they would do jee-jan (idiom meaning pleading) and get votes. Whatever they took from the government they would spend on themselves. It is still the system in our village. There is a boy on their side who takes money from people and does no work. This is the system (yawns). I was better off before, and then I was ruined by arranging my daughter's marriage.
Tell me more about your poverty.
Poverty – before, I was OK. When I arranged my daughter's marriage, my land was finished.
Did the land finish at the time of your daughter's marriage?
The land finished. I mortgaged the land. After that… you also know, that if a person does not have his own land then what should the person do? If he does not do any labour then what should he do? These expenses of ours… I have taken money from the bank, the agricultural bank, and on the same land I have set up the flourmill worth 50,000 rupees. And out of 50,000 rupees, we pay monthly instalments of 1,200 rupees. Nearly 10-12 instalments have been paid.
The instalments, how did you pay them back?
1,200 rupees per month. I have to repay 65,000 rupees of which I have paid 50,000 (for receiving 50,000).
That means 15,000 rupees as interest?
Yes, this is business. Due to that too we are ruined by arranging the girl's marriage. And then if the land is finished. Then you know the daily wage for one day or so, it is not enough. Cattle and livestock – we did not ever have any. Chicken, etc., and even goats we do not have any. For tea we get milk. They give that to us for free. Even if we took 250gm of milk, it would cost 300 rupees per month. And I tell you, for example, if money is needed... suppose I have to buy clothes for myself then I tell a friend of mine – those who are at work… if someone is a driver or someone is employed then I will say to them, "Bring me a chador (shawl)," then they will bring it. If I say to someone, "Bring clothes", then he will bring them. Nevertheless, I tell you that I have good relations with everyone. That's why whoever I ask brings it for me. Because when I was OK, whoever expressed a need for something, then I immediately got that for them.
And the same equation I have kept with people. Believe me – even if I need 5,000 rupees, whoever I approach will respond, "Take this." I was good with others, with everyone...whether they were strangers or those among our own. Whatever I ask for, the person gives out of deference – because whenever they asked me for anything before, I used to give it to them. Today, out of deference they cannot refuse me. Those that do not have anything to give will still say yes and then not face me again.
I am married to my chacha's daughter. We were three siblings. After my father's death our mother supported us. She did not go anywhere. If the father is not there, then the mother takes care of the children. Our mother stayed with us for our sake – and we grew up. My brother and I got married.
[Section of transcript removed with more details of family dispute and a legal case brought against him by his maternal uncle.]
Miandad paji (term meaning "elder brother"), tell me about the time when you were young, you were married, and were farming with your chacha (paternal uncle).
Even after I got married, I continued to live with my chacha and I continued working for him. I separated after…my mother…my chacha was in business, he would buy a standing crop and labourers would be working there… at that time my mother would take roti (bread). People knew that this was my mother bringing roti. So I told her not to take the roti and to send one of the labourers instead. My chacha said: "Why can't she take the roti? Does she use a veil in front of them?" (The veil is worn in the presence of men who are outsiders, not family members.) So I said that if my mother was not secluded from them, then separate me, do you understand? I did not want my mother to suffer – as the chacha's work was done by me and was my responsibility. I told him: "I don't think my mother should take roti for your labour." I asked him whether he gave us [a share of] all that he earned. "We in a sense work for you and eat food. The land that you buy, or own, is in your name." That's what happened – when he separated us, he bought land and gave it to his sons, do you understand? Whatever money there was remained with them. When we separated, they gave me only what belonged to my father – the share that was due to my father, whatever [profits] they got from the business, he deposited in the bank. Later I bought land with it. Ask Baboo Naseem, he will tell you everything.
Whatever I have said to you, there is not even a grain of falsehood. I speak the truth. I say one thing. I say, as God is my witness, whatever I say, wherever I… don't want to be wronged. Do you understand? By telling lies, or those who indulge in self-praise – I don't like such people. Like those that blow their own trumpet – I don't even go near them. Do you understand? I respect those who depend on themselves. This is my principle. Do you understand? If I have something to give, I will give it to anyone who asks. If I don't have anything – I don't raise false hopes that I will give you something tomorrow or another time. These are my principles.
Paji, please tell me about the lives of your children?
My children, I have brought them up with great love. Let me tell you about myself. I endured tough times and a difficult life…even if I did not have money for anything I did not send them out to work. My elder son, while studying at school, said to me that he would go out and earn. I said to him; "My friend, it is like this: these days the society is difficult. Boys fall into bad company and are ruined, you cannot go. When you are capable of going, I will put you on a bus. Don't listen to anyone who wants you to go. When you are capable of going, I will send you myself. When your desires are fulfilled and you want to return home, you can come home." Do you understand, or not?
Tell me more about your elder son, about his education, about his life.
My son is very smart. He has completed 10th class – [but] he is a "10th fail" (someone who has failed to matriculate). I advised him to re-take his exams. In any case I have many friends, they are in high-ranking posts. They say: "If only your son could complete 10th class…" Or else they say that he is a 10th fail, and make excuses. Or they say that I should make him pass the 10th. But they can't say that to me as I was very open with them. I would say: "Friend, you are making excuses – why are you doing this? As you know, among friends there is no embarrassment." Do you understand, or not? They say: "No, we are not making excuses. You should make him complete 10th class". When I said this to my son he would hear from one ear and take it out from the other (pay no heed). Whenever there was an opportunity, I would tell him: "If you had got through the 10th then I could have requested someone to get you a job." If he (Miandad's son) had not complained, someone also owed me [a favour]. I told my son: "You listen from one ear and take it out from the other."
Now, take charge, do things – now it is not for me to do so. I take the spade and do some weeding, if someone comes I am able to work for a daily wage – if no one comes then I just sit around. I swear this is the way I talk with my son. We talk to each other this way. If he had passed the 10th I would have requested someone to get him a job. Even if nobody was able to get him a job at least I would have known – I kept asking someone to get him a job but he was not able to do anything. Now when I ask them, they say: "Tell him to clear the 10th class." Now it has been ten years, seven to eight years, now you can take your exams. Who can clear the 10th class these days? We talk about these things between us – this is the system. Now the other son goes unwillingly to school – he does not wake up if his mother tries to wake him. If I say sternly… You know, I tell him that the person who has no worries, why should he wake up in the morning? If no one wakes him, he keeps sleeping the whole day. He also works at the flourmill after school.
After returning from the school?
Yes, after returning from the school.
Where is his school – where does he go?
Pehri Bandi – it is nearby… about 3-4 km from here. He goes on foot. This is the situation.
Tell me something more about your elder son's life?
I often think about the life of my elder son – what can I do? He is engaged to be married – I think about his fiancée, she is a young daughter. Two or three times her family has requested me to arrange the marriage. I hear them from one ear and take it out from the other. "Friend, what should I do now? How should I do this?" I wonder. When the bank loan is repaid, I can take another loan and arrange the marriage. This is the situation. I tell you those people who were talking with you, some of them have four people working in their household, some are earning from abroad. They do not give me an opportunity to speak the truth. I am telling you the truth. I was getting up to offer prayers – and my brother-in-law sent me to you so that I can speak the truth. When the person who was sitting with you earlier, when he left – then I can tell you the truth.
Miandad paji, please tell me a bit more. You said that you are now more impoverished than before, so what do you think, how can you overcome poverty in the future?
Now, my thinking is that first I must repay the bank loan. And then I will take another loan and get back my land that is mortgaged. You understand? We are repaying instalments now, we will pay the instalments. When our land is returned to us then we can invest in it so that whatever it yields will help us repay – because that's all we will have to do. God willing, the income from the machine will help to meet our expenses. This is the only way to pay off loans – there is no other way.
So, you mean that the income from the flourmill will help to repay the loan?
When the bank loan is repaid – 50,000 rupees – it has been about one year. I took the loan from the bank in the 12th month (December). The 12th month is about to come again. That is when this will be repaid and then I will take another loan to get my land back. Then the produce and income from the land, whatever it is… we will give it to the bank. Regarding my son's marriage… there is a greater anxiety over a daughter's marriage. If my son's in-laws ask again, I will tell them that I cannot afford it and that they should wed their daughter somewhere else.
Will you refuse them?
What can I do? I cannot sell my land. If I sell the land then the source of my income is finished. No one talks about a son. People talk about girls [if they are unmarried]. The essential work concerning girls, God willing, I have completed that (the marriage of his daughter). That was the anxiety, you understand? That's why we cannot go around too much. As in the village these are the kind of people – those that have a sense of honour and those that don't – or whatever kind they are… what I have told you about the murder, have you understood, or not? In the middle there are those kinds also, because of that we do not send girls outside of the village after they complete the 5th class. Especially, in our mohalla (neighbourhood) there is no one [who does so].
They have not studied beyond the 5th?
They have not studied beyond the 5th.
Please tell me, is it the trend here that after the 5th, or primary [level], girls are not educated?
Please see, I'll tell you something. You can also see in front of the college… the women's college… we also go to the bazaar… and when the college is off… when the boys' school finishes the boys stand in front of the girl's college. When a girl – whether good or bad – comes out they will start saying things about her. They keep talking about them, even if they have simply used public transport. Even then, they go after them… there are no buses these days. Earlier, the conductor of the bus would ask travellers to give their place to college girls. Boys are after girls, I have seen, do you understand? As we have seen, the way people behave – we in the village have this system, do you understand?
You talked about starting farming again. Can you please tell me more? What will you start doing?
Look, we will begin this, when our land is free, we will take a bank loan to get it back… we will cultivate vegetables, garlic, arum etc, which we will sell. The vegetables that people sell in the market like gourd, tomato, arum… if one brings their seeds – when they earn 1,000-2,000 rupees, those earnings have finished by the next day. The other kinds of vegetables, like garlic or turmeric, or arum… when one sells these after gathering them it is possible to get about 50,000 or 20,000 rupees. This money is earned in a lump sum so then it can be invested in something. Even if a person's daily earnings are 1,000 rupees, their expenses may also be 1,500 rupees per day. With these kinds of vegetables, we cannot do anything. Daily earnings get spent on a daily basis.
On the other hand, if we get a lump sum of money, we can add more from our labour or a loan and do something meaningful with it. It's like a committee (traditional savings group common in many areas) that deposits money. After six months when the crop is ready for harvest, they sell it for a lump sum – before or after the harvest – and get the lump sum payment. They can invest the money in some work. These houses that I have made, this was possible when I sold 80,000 rupees worth of garlic. I sold garlic worth 80,000 rupees and constructed a house. If along with this there were other vegetables – spinach, fenugreek, tomato, ladyfinger, gourd… the earnings from these would be used to meet our daily expenses and the money would finish. If the vegetables finished, then our income would also finish. We do it like this (sell collectively for a lump sum), so when the crop is ready for harvest after six months the advantage of that is that what we invested in it as labour or by taking loans, we can gather it all at once and sell it together and invest the collective earnings in something else. It is our work – farming – all of it.
Does anyone from your household also help you in farming?
From my home, I will tell you about myself… I don't even tell my brother about my house. In my brother's house, his wife does all the work… all the work, do you understand… but my own wife doesn't even know about her own land… where our land is. She had never even taken roti (bread) to the river,
[Short section of transcript removed with further details of family dispute.]
Tell me more about this – you say that your wife does not even know about your land? Why is that? Why have you not told her anything?
We never took her out of the house. Even earlier, my real paternal grandfather's daughter – she never even went to the river. Never went to her lands. My other sister-in-law, she was young, she would take care of livestock until she grew up, do you understand?
Are you are talking about earlier times?
Yes. About earlier times.
Did women do more agricultural work then?
Did they do farming and household work?
Now, the girls in our mohalla – there are about 20-25 houses, from which at the most two to four women go to the fields – those whose husbands are greedy. Who wants a lot of money? The person that has a sense of honour will say that: "Even if I die of hunger, I will not let my wife step out of the house."
Has the context changed, or is there another reason why they do now what they were not doing earlier?
After seeing such things – for instance, if I don't allow her to step out of the house… Whenever there is the slightest issue with girls, men insult each other. Whenever there is the slightest issue, then they say, "I know you, your wife goes to the river." They talk like this with each other. Men from the older generation…when they come…they feel a sense of honour. They refuse [to let their wives go out]. This is the system. I am using clear and straightforward language to make you understand. When a person, for instance, sells his crop well – then others will talk and say that all of you worked together and I worked with you - do you understand? This is the system in the village.
Are there any farming techniques that you would change when you take up farming again, as you have mentioned?
Look, there is no other way of changing. You can steal, loot, or break into a bank or loot it – that is possible! And when the earlier loan is repaid then I will take another loan from the bank. Do you understand? We will repay it in instalments; the bank does not come to ask for them. So there will be instalments for six months.
Please tell me more about agriculture? What do you cultivate?
Well what I will do will change my life – at least my source of income will increase. Look, look at the source of income. The main problem is that the land has to be returned – only then it will happen. There is no land… as I am making you understand repeatedly…
The machine that we have bought, that loan we will repay to the bank and we will be free. Only two to four instalments remain. At that time I will take another loan from the bank. They will call me to give me a loan. There is one system in which they tell you after 10 days, or after a month. When I tell them they will say: "Come tomorrow and take the money." If the bank record is clean, only then do they say that.
The land that you have mortgaged?
To the bank.
To the bank, or have you mortgaged it against a loan? Do you know how much time has passed?
Time has passed – about 11-12 months. It's nearly one year. In the coming 12th month (December) it will be a year. In the 12th month I took out the first instalment, do you understand? Even before this, I have a friend who asked me for money to arrange his daughter's marriage – as I did not have any money I took a loan from the bank and gave it to him. He repaid that in instalments. When that loan was repaid, I told the bank to give another loan to him and the bank did. Even now when my loan is repaid… at the time when I was taking the 50,000 rupees they were asking me to take 100,000. I said if I take 100,000 rupees from the bank I have to repay it too. And I can't hide, and the bank people will chase me and I will have to keep running. No, I will only take that. Believe me, I asked for 50,000 rupees and they put Rs.100,000 in my hands – so that I would take 100,000.
I asked: "What will be the instalment against 100,000 rupees?" They replied: "It will be 2,400 per month." I said: "I will not be able to repay this. I don't have that kind of earning power. And I don't want one." They said: "If you miss a monthly instalment, you can pay the following month." I asked: "Will you take 2,400? They said: "No 4,800." I said: "No, I will not take this; 1,200 rupees I will repay even if I have to borrow from someone." They said: "You say the right things." I said: "I say the right thing when I take the money from you… the money will be mine if it is with me." If I take the money and spend it, then I will have to hide. I should only do what I can manage. Why should I take more? People take loans too easily. But when the bank comes to ask for repayment, the creditors then hide. They insult their wives, or are disrespectful to them. I don't like that. When this loan will be repaid, and I have no worry due to expenditures… the flour mill will meet household expenses and I will know I have to give instalments for six months...even if it is 4,000-5,000 rupees, whatever it is – then I will be able to repay it in six months.
Please tell me: what do you think about the future of your children?
One daughter is very young (. The other, a son, when I can afford it I will get him married. Others still owe 50,000 rupees. It will not be my daughter whom people taunt me about, saying that she eloped with someone or that she talks [too freely] with someone.
Please tell me more about their lives.
About their lives, this is what it is…
How do you see their future?
The future? When I can afford it I will get them married – do you understand, or not? Until I can afford it, he will stay as he is.
Please tell me more, what will you be able to afford?
What will we afford if there is money for marriage? In our village, it is our tradition that they ask for seven – 7 tola (1 tola = 12 gm) – [or] nine – 9 tola of gold. Look, 9 tola of gold costs more than 300,000 rupees. Do you understand? Now, one cannot even afford 5,000. So where will he get 300,000 from? And then, clothes… they ask for 30-40 joray (outfits). Wives are in charge of that. Men can do what they want, but the wife will say: "I will give this to the daughter." Do you understand? When I got married, I gave it. I know. Due to this, I tell you this is difficult. Never mind, I am not worried. I have told my son, I have finished my anxiety that I had about selling the land. "Now, if you want to do labour, it is your choice… the other son will run the flour mill… When I have the money for the land, when the land is free, after that I will get my land released… after that I will do something for you… If not, then nothing will happen. Nobody is taking you out." He remains silent. He does not tell me to arrange his marriage. I swear, just as I am talking with you – in the same way I talk with my son. In this way if there is something, I say to him: "Friend, if I sell the land, then how will I respond to others? If I sell the land to arrange your marriage, then tomorrow when your other brother grows up, what will I say to him?" When we do labour – it's OK – if it's not there then nobody says anything. People just sit around, they don't even get married – that's how it is.
Miandad paji, thank you for giving so much time.
You could even keep me here for the whole night, I would not say that I have to work or someone will call me. I have told you earlier, a person that I know well asked me to go to Karachi with him. I said to him, let's go. Do you understand, or not?
But, please tell me, doesn't anyone in your household enquire where you have been all this time?
They would only ask if they need something in my house. I give everything at home. Now, my son is there – may God give him a long life – he is young. He must be the same age as you – just about. I have come to look like this by dyeing my hair. I admit my age, I have no worries about it. I have a daughter, do you understand? She will talk with someone, or someone will come to my house. This is my work, I tell you. Do you know Baboo Rashid? He is my nephew. If you take my name, he will say that the one who kept talking with you is my mamoo – and that he speaks the truth. I don't say anything wrong, ever. There is no advantage in lying. Do you understand, or not? I have no anxiety about anything… one is my house… and I am good with those who are good. I tell you clearly when one person is wrong, then I am on top of him. Because of that... in this village of Akhoon Bandi – there is no one who dares to cast their eyes on my house. As they know, friend, every kind of work, every kind of person I know – this and that – I will have a friend somewhere, he will be decent and religious, he will be my friend, maybe old but he will be my friend [falls silent].
If there is an old woman, I will behave like women when I am among women. Do you understand, or not? Whatever kind of person in the village, good or crooked, will be my friend. The poorest of the poor will be my friend. Whoever comes to me for some work, then I commit to doing it. If not, then I do not ask them to depend on me, I tell them that it is beyond my capacity – I don't give any false hope that I will deliver something the next day or I will come to you. If I don't intend to go then I will clearly state that this is beyond my capacity. Then nobody is upset with me. If you say, "Meet me at such a place", I say, "OK I will come", and if I don't come you change your time. You will say: "What kind of a person is this?" – It is my work and I say I don't have time for it. If I say I will come, then I should come. If you have to go at 12:00 noon, then I should reach you at 10:00 am. Understand that this is my principle.
Miandad paji,please tell me what is the reason for poverty in Akhoon Bandi?
I tell you the reason is that most of the people are farmers. Those people that are well off, they are well off because their children have good jobs. Some have cars. They have permanent jobs and those that are in the house can meet their own expenses. Those that have a permanent job save money and buy a car or invest in a business. If the family left behind in the village faces any hardship they manage on their own. They do their work themselves. They do not place any burden on others. It is done that way.
Farmers will take the produce from their land and eat it. They will do something like that. But if the land does not yield anything then what can they do? In this season those who cultivated maize, you know there were no rains. If your village is rain-fed you will know whether there was a maize crop or not.
No, there was no maize this season?
That is what it is. Most people here are farmers. The person that has brought roti (bread), the one who has just gone home – let me tell you about him. He has no source of income. He has two daughters. A year ago, he gave them away in marriage. There is no source of income. What can he do now? Do you understand? People do say things, but nobody speaks the truth about what their situation is – people are embarrassed. One overcomes embarrassment and says this is what I can afford, this is my courage – others just give compliments for no reason.
Please tell me what is the main issue faced by you?
Tell me about work or about natural resources?
The problems are that the streets in our village are very bad. This water, you can come with us I can show you, you can see for yourself and you will know the kind of water people drink…
Why is that? Please tell me more about it.
The reason is that the pipes are damaged in various places. The mosque is on the upper side and our mohallah is on the lower side and the pipes are connected. People bathe in the mosque and that water comes in the drain and if the pipe is also in the same place then the dirty water from the drain and the clean water get mixed up and that is supplied to people's homes. I myself told the people in my mohallah, that the pipe is damaged – this water is not fit for drinking. I then did this: I put my foot on the neck of (put pressure on) our Nazim (mayor) and got a well dug near my house. When there is no water, we place a motor pump on the well and draw water – and that is the water we use. I keep asking those in the mohalla to help get the pipes repaired. But they say we will do it today, tomorrow. Will you go with me? It is a few paces away from where this car has passed. I will show you… you will be surprised… I swear you will say that this man speaks the truth. This is the situation.
OK, many, many thanks, Miandad paji. You gave so much time.
No, that is all right. Wherever you call us, we will come there. We have spoken the truth.
Thank you very much.
1/ Average exchange rate, (83.58 rupees = 1 US$) November 2009, Interbank rate, source: www.oanda.com
2/ Additional information from the partner: The farmers own two types of lands: irrigated and rain-fed. The rain-fed is generally used for wheat and maize and yields depend on rain. The irrigated land is alongside the stream banks and the stream water is the source of irrigation. They grow a variety of vegetables and fruits on this land. The village is known for its vegetable production but this is on decline because of the water issue. The decreased trend of rain and snowfall in the catchments areas over the years has resulted in the stream shrinking back and water level lowering, thus preventing considerable pieces of land be irrigated. This trend is growing year to year. Also the irrigation system is self maintained and there is no government input to build a proper irrigation system.