“Sh“ince I was a child, I loved driving a donkey cart. I got the feeling of flying from it. My elders were also in this profession. I have been working in this street in Sadar, Karachi for the past 25 years. I carry cement, machinery, furniture, heavy equipment, anything you name it,” Yousuf said whom I saw sitting idle on a donkey cart in front of closed shops yesterday.
“Guzara ho jaata hey aj kal (are you able to make a living these days)?” I asked him.
“Look around, shops are closed and there is no load to carry. Before I used to work for 12 hours a day, these days, only 5-6 hours. My earnings are less than half now. I earn 800–1000 Rupees ($5–6) a day, out of which, 200 Rs ($1.25) go to feed my donkey and 200 Rs for myself. Now I cannot explain lockdown to my donkey and that he should eat less because we don’t get enough work. I have to spend 200 Rupees on him no matter what, even if I have to eat less. Without him, I will surely not survive. Those who have money can sit at home, we, who drive donkey carts, cannot. Baqi Allah malik hey (rest it’s up to God). He will feed us both!”
“What is the name of your donkey?”
“I haven’t named him. I have never thought about it.”
“Kabootar rakh lo is ka naam (let’s name him Kabootar [Pigeon])!” a passerby whose name was Zulfiqar said with a naughty smile.
“Nahi, yeh tu kala hey, (no, he is black). Pigeons don’t have the same color as he has,” Yousuf said.
“Tu phir Kala–Dil Wala rakh lo is ka naam (then let’s call him Kala–Dil Wala [Black–Big Hearted]),” I suggested.
“Yeh theek hey, aj se is ka naam Dil Wala (that’s good. From today, his name will be Dil Wala [Big Hearted]),” Yousuf said.
I looked at the donkey. He nodded his head as if he had approved it.
VIGA.Org—A Project of Akhuwat Global is helping daily wage workers who have been severely impacted due to the COVID-19 crisis. They are providing meals, food rations, financial support and zero-interest emergency loans to the most deserving. Please support: www.viga.org/covid19/