“We have been carpenters for generations. I remember going with my father as a child. I was not paid when I was learning, but once I knew how to make intricate designs from wood, I started getting paid Rs200 to Rs300 a day. I briefly worked at a crockery shop, but returned to the trade of my ancestors soon after.
I moved my family from Swat to Islamabad 13 years ago. I have eight children, four daughters and four sons. Three of my sons are going to school, but my daughters did not get an education. I also never went to school and they were also not as interested in an education.
With time, all six of my siblings also moved here, though it had nothing to do with the law and order situation there as they made the move before that.
We all live in a rented house in Tarnol for which I pay Rs5,000 a month and I pay Rs6,000 a month for the shop, which I opened five years ago.
I buy old furniture and make new pieces from it. It takes me eight days to make one table. I price my products according to the time that goes into making it. I have to sit all day long and work on intricate designs, which has given me back problems at such a young age.
People in Islamabad are more interested in my work. But that said, I do not make a sale every day and may sell a table a week and from that sale, I support my family.”
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2019