“I belong to a small village in Mardan. I came to Taxila nine years ago along with my parents in search of a better future and eke out a living.
After doing my matriculation from a government school I could not continue education due to limited financial resources of my family. I did many odd jobs - from a construction labourer to a helper with truck drivers for many years. I saved money and purchased a boat to operate in the Khanpur Dam for tourists who visited the place for picnic. But soon I had to sell the boat as the local boat contractors always created hurdles for outsiders who operated boats and also because it was a profit earning business only in the summer when tourists flocked the lake from different cities, especially Rawalpindi and Islamabad, to enjoy boating. Now I purchase oranges from the local orchards and sell them in the makeshift stall on Taxila-Khanpur Road. Commuters travelling on the road stop and enjoy the world famous Khanpuri red blood oranges. Tourists visiting the nearby dam also purchase oranges from my stall. I make a good daily earning due to the low transportation charges. However, I am uncertain how in the upcoming summer I would feed my family when the orange season ends.”
Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2019