People Speak

January 19, 2019


Yasmin and Naseem Akhtar, 34 & 30, shopkeepers
Yasmin and Naseem Akhtar, 34 & 30, shopkeepers

We were both born visually impaired and with dwarfism. We have been running a convenience store from our house for nine years and have been supporting our family for four years.

Our father used to work as a mason. He had a stroke four years ago and has been paralysed since. Our brother was also a mason but he sustained a head injury a year ago and has been experiencing memory loss, so he cannot work either.

We are the only bread winners in the family. We do not have any other source of income other than this shop from which we make between Rs300 and Rs400 a day.

Our family has always lived in Bari Imam. This has always been our home and our neighbourhood so we do not really face any problems in interacting with people here and conducting business. People go out of their way to accommodate us and most of our customers are women.

But the story is completely different outside the neighbourhood. If we ever venture out, people make fun of us because we are two women with dwarfism who also cannot see. We usually do not notice as much, but our mother does when she is out with us. So, we mostly stay home, in the shop or at most in the neighbourhood and our brother’s son brings us supplies for the shop.

We have another sister who is married but marriage is out of the question for us. We started going to school when we were young but it could not accommodate us due to our disabilities. We spent a lot of time with each other when we were young and mostly stayed home. We learnt a lot of useful skills in time such as learning how to weave shawls or charpoys.

Till we are able to, we will be our parents’ support and we will take care of them. We were created by Allah and with our disabilities, he also gave us the courage to face them.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2019