CHAKWAL: In a small six-marla house in Nawab Town, Chakwal, Aleesha Hijab and her family live in a single room.
The room serves as the bedroom, drawing room and even Aleesha’s study room where she studied for her secondary school certificate (SSC) examinations, and stunned her teachers and classmates when she scored 1,042 out of 1,100 marks.
“My daughter used to study until midnight, and we had to stay awake with her,” says her father Jabar Abbas, a 43-year-old labourer.
Ms Hijab’s family – her parents, herself, and her younger brother – lives in a house without a proper kitchen or even a bathroom. The house is owned by her uncle, who bought it after working as a labourer in Saudi Arabia.
Ms Hijab, 17, is a student of Government Girls High School No.1 in Chakwal – the very institute from where Nargis Bibi, who lived in a hut made of straw, scored 1004 marks Aleesha now wants to study at a reputable institution. “My dream is to do my FSc from the Military College Jhelum,” she said, adding that she wants to become a doctor.
Mr Abbas, who was a daily-wage worker, was recruited as a sweeper at a National Bank branch in 2014 on a three-year contract. He lost his job in 2016, after the bank did not renew his contract, so he once again began working as a labourer.
Now, Mr Abbas leaves the house every day on a bicycle to whitewash buildings.
“I wish my daughter and my son, who is in the fifth grade, have a comfortable environment to study and all the necessary facilities. I am doing whatever I can do,” he said.
Published in Dawn, August 28th, 2017