Inspiration Pakistan: Mooba rehRay wala

Posted on January 20, 2009
Filed Under >S.A.J. Shirazi, People, Society
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S.A.J Shirazi

Setting eyes on Maqbool and his mule cart for the first time, one could be forgiven for thinking that he belongs to a working class endeavoring for survival. His shabby dress and toes peeping out of slippers too large for him, do not project an image of a contented and happy man who is fond of good animals and racing.

I first met Maqbool, commonly known as Bola Rehre Wala, at the Multan Railway Station where he works from 6 am to 9 pm every day, no holidays. He takes all the newspapers and magazines arriving at Multan Railway Station from all over Pakistan to various newspaper agencies in the city. He also takes with him any other load he may find on the Railway Station if he is free and his mule is ‘willing’. He earns six to eight hundred rupees daily out of which two hundred rupees go to the diet and care of his mule.

Over a period of time, I found out that he has four children, two boys and two girls, none going to school. He and his wife do not wish to send their children to school because the boys are to join him in work as soon as they grow up and the girls are to be married off. His wife takes care of every thing at home. His elder son Nasir Iqbal has already started giving him a hand off and on. In return Nasir gets two hundred and fifty rupees per week as pocket money from his mother, which he spends on rented VCR and five films every week. The family has a colored TV in their in two room house with a separate place for the mule and the cart. Bola is not getting the cable connection because he fears, “girls will see cable all the time.”

At the end of the day, Maqbool gives all earnings to his wife. She carefully spends the money on the mule, the family and invests the balance amount in different saving committees in her mohallah. The moment she receives any committee she sends her husband to deposit the money in his bank account. Maqbool says, “She likes the idea of being a wife of a lakhpati.” Maqbool had some time ago put some money in a fixed deposit, which is going to be five times in near future. He loves his wife deeply and proudly says that he could not have saved anything without her financial wisdom. They are both illiterate but this does not bother them except that she has to take help from different people for maintaining the record of saving committees and book keeping.

In his mid forties, Maqbool is fond of cart races and looks forward to participating in the annual mule cart race from Multan to Pakpattan on the eve of Baba Farid Ganj’s Urs. He prepares for this long race all round the year but two months before the race the expenditure on the diet of his mule shoots up to four hundred rupees a day. One of his few ambitions in life other than winning the annual race is to slaughter the best cow on Eid Ul Azha. Apple, honey or milk for horses might be common in Pakistan but I had never heard of anybody feeding sweets to his cow. Maqbool does.

“I want to buy a dala for work and keep my mule and cart only for the races,” Maqbool informed me secretly, “but my wife says we do not have enough funds yet. My son Nasir will drive the truck and I will collect business for him. Nasir does not like working on the Cart. We have also decided to get him married once he starts working and after we buy a truck.”

Apart form his contentment and passion for hard work, Maqbool has almost every quality that one can expect of a happy man living in today’s complex world, some of which I discovered during the chance I had to know him better. He has no hostility, fear or alienation. He is free form pretension and phoniness. He has complete faith in God Almighty. Even his work ethics are different than any one in his class. He will often load his cart with luggage at half the fare of what any other cart man will charge. He is famous for being open to persuasion among his colleagues at the railways station. They often refer the passengers “to go find Mooba” once they cannot clinch a deal due to less payment, heavy load, long distance or odd timings.

Surprisingly Maqbool does not complain of the bone breaking price hike or what is happening in the society around him. Nothing bothers him as if he is living in a shell. Though he always comes to know about any thing important happening in the country not by reading the newspaper or listening to the TV news but from the weight of the newspapers he has to carry every day. His load increases whenever some government falls or new prime minister is to be elected in a hurry or if there is any other political and or social turmoil in the country.

The big question which comes to one’s mind is that whether it is enough for him or for that matter any person to live all wrapped up in one’s work, own self, family and be happy or should one aspire for commitment, enlightenment, sharing, giving, reaching for success and affluence.

What do you say? What do you aspire for in life?

12 Comments on “Inspiration Pakistan: Mooba rehRay wala

  1. Zia Ahmed says:
    January 20th, 2009 11:52 pm

    Salam-o-Alikum Shirazi shb, I am no doubt amazed to read such a nice sketch of a rehRey wala’s life. We always see such rehRey waly but never concentrate on them, So nice you focused over one of those life.

    I think the main role in his happy life is because of his wise wife, how intelligently she manages the earnings of her husband and putting money in savings. That will be surely beneficial for their children in future.

    But over all that, they must had to educate their children to be prepare for upcoming era, the new culture that all of us are going to adopt… so their children espically boys would not say “kash hum kuch perh lay tay” ya “kash hamary walidan nay bhi haman parhaya hota”.

  2. ASAD says:
    January 21st, 2009 12:18 am

    Wonderful sketch of what the life of ordinary Pakistanis is like

  3. shirazi says:
    January 21st, 2009 2:00 am

    Thanks for stopping by. I agree with you Zia Ahmed. Wish they read this ) or get out of the shell and listen to such advice.

  4. adeel says:
    January 21st, 2009 5:11 am

    I found it a bit sad that the nice man is not bothered about getting his children educated. Lack of awareness, I suppose.

  5. tinwoman says:
    January 21st, 2009 8:50 am

    I’ve seen these people and their cart races–it’s very quaint and interesting! This is a nice, well written profile which gives us a good idea of the man.

    I ask myself, though, if he is not so completely wrapped up in mule races because people bet on them; they are a bit of a gambling racket. It seems as if he has provided well for his family within his means, though.

  6. January 21st, 2009 9:18 am


    This is first time I have had an insight into the life of a “real” Pakitani.

    He mode is envirmentally freindly, he is saving the planet and saving Pakistan invaluable foreign exchnage by not using fuel.

    Needs to strogly supported

  7. Mustafa says:
    January 21st, 2009 2:35 pm

    This is one of the best pieces I

  8. January 21st, 2009 9:01 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this little piece. But what I found even more interesting were some of the comments. Here I will mention two: the first referred to the fact that this was the first time the person was able to see what life was like for a ‘real’ Pakistani. I think for many of us the life of the real Pakistani is increasingly understood through media depictions. As is the case with news, it inly covers the sensational, not the mundane. It is sad that we have come to this. The fabric of a society comes undone when people belonging to different walks of life do not understand each other. We should try and befriend more of these people and I am sure it will enrich our lives and we may learn to appreciate the beauty in small things.

    Secondly, a person commented that it is sad that he has not educated his children. Once again this comes about through a narrow understanding of what education means. A very elitist understanding. What of the time the young women spend with their mother, who we can see is the recipe for a successful wife for a working class person; and what of the apprenticeship the sons get from the father. We have to realize even if they begin to get an education they will drop out pretty soon and on top of that will not learn the trade of the father. In their situation education is irrelevant, and the father is smart enough to know.

  9. AZRA says:
    January 21st, 2009 9:35 pm

    Very uplifting
    Although it’s painful about the education point

  10. wasiq51 says:
    January 22nd, 2009 6:24 am

    Great piece — absolutely rejuvenating!

  11. Nabeel says:
    January 22nd, 2009 4:05 pm

    Wonderful,truly Inspiration Pakistan!

    There are so many other noble men like him – and I do call him noble. He has more right to it than many many other men who are thousands of times wealthier than he is. We need to find and highlight these men, these lives, these stories. They are what keeps the nation running, despite all the gloom.

  12. ali says:
    January 25th, 2009 6:33 pm

    We need more men like Maqbool in Pakistan! Hard working and honest!

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