The tale of a disabled and hapless student whose spouse helped him cheat death. ( Abdul Rasheed )
Written By Khalid Irshad

Abdul Rasheed left his ramshackle house in Ayyub Goth slums of Karachi with the support of a stick in the right hand and books in the left and reached the main road to wait for a person who could give him a lift up to the main entrance of the Karachi University. He would undergo this torment daily.

A jolly fellow with robust health, Rashid had dreamt a promising future. Along with doing business to meet his both ends, he was doing B.B.A (Honours). On a fateful day, Rashid was going to the university on his bike when the two-wheeler had an accident and he received serious injuries in his head and spine that virtually made him immobile for next period of his life. Except for moving some facial muscles, he was unable to move any of his body organs.

This accident had doomed his entire life. He passed next one year or so virtually like a living corpse. Every moment of this phase of his life brought more miseries than ever before. Though his body had become an idle machine, feelings of haplessness and hopelessness also took a heavy toll on his nervous system, turning him into a psycho patient as well. I find no words that could encompass his physical and mental agonies. However, I humbly venture on narrating his sordid tale.

A young poor chap is lying on a cot, motionless; with a lot of mechanical devices applied on his body to keep his muscles alive Voluntarily, he can move only some muscles of his face The broken nervous system is on the brink of total collapse. But tables started turning one day.

Abdul Rasheeds journey back to life is indeed a miracle This miracle happened only because of a woman Rasheed had wedded a few years ago She did contribute a lot to the happening of this miracle.

Poverty had ruined Rasheeds family, rendering them unable to meet their both ends what to speak of arranging money for buying medicines and paying for physiotherapy. But Rasheeds wife did what doctors and a lot of money could not do in bringing normalcy to his life. Despite being a faithful partner of her spouse, she became his physiotherapist as well as psychologist. She injected life into a virtually dead body of her husband and owing to her constant encouragement, Rasheed started responding positively and only after a couple of months he was able to move his lower limbs. One day, he got off his cot and started walking, though with a prop.

His wife encouraged him further to resume his studies. Yet, Rashid had to travel a long journey. His wife had ably brought him from the bed to the road where he again needed somebodys active support in achieving the pursuits of his life. Poverty and disability were two gigantic hurdles in his way. He had no transport to travel to the university and back home. Because of his handicap, he was unable to avail public transport as well. Not much money had left at his command to meet his educational and medical expenses, but still he had enormous determination at his disposal. For next few months, he resorted to contacting every philanthropist individual or institution to help him overcome his miseries but to no avail.

His wife had helped him cheat death while injecting the ray of hope But, this ray of hope too started spluttering. After waiting for over half of an hour, hitch-hiker Rashid signaled a biker to take him to the Karachi University which the motorcyclist did. On being persuaded, Rasheed shared his story with the motorcyclist.

The biker informed Rasheed that his son had got second position in Larkana Boards matriculation examination and was invited by Lahore-based Karwan-e-Ilm Foundation (KIF) in a ceremony to distribute awards among the top position holders. The biker said that they knew that this organization sponsor needy students to pursue their academic pursuits The biker also asked Raheed to contact that organization. Abdul Raheed half-heartedly noted down the address of the organization, though he did not want to contact any such organization any more. When Rasheeds wife knew about the organization, she persuaded her husband that there was no harm in writing to that organization. They might help us out, she said.

Abdul Rasheed reluctantly wrote a letter to the KIF in which there was a mention of all his previous application to various other organizations to seek financial help. His letter reads as under: I am a disabled and needy young man, studying at Karachi Universitys Food Sciences and Technology Department. After losing all the hopes, I am writing to you for financial help. My whole body got paralyzed after receiving grievous injury to my neck and spine in a traffic accident. Despite spending huge money and undergoing prolonged treatment, I am yet unable to walk without any support in addition to becoming an overdrawn.

At the time of accident, I was in the second semester of B.B.A (Honours) at Gulshan Campus of the Federal Urdu University and had no severe financial constraints. The accident has wrecked my life. Beside academic and financial loss, the emotional setback has ruined my mental health as well. We don’t own our house, and my uncle has pulled us up in his small house. My father is poor and unemployed person.

I need financial help to continue my studies and treatment. My biggest problem is transportation as I am unable to board any public transport vehicle to travel to the university and back home. I have to daily wait for any volunteer commuter who could drop me at the university and in this process a lot of time is consumed and I miss my classes too often. I also wrote to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, Sindh Governor and Chief Minister, Sindh Chief Secretary Fazlur Rehman and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, but in vain.

I also wrote to Saudi Arabia’s Prince Salman Centre for Research Disabilities, but to no avail. Termination of physiotherapy has started reversing the so far recovery and I am once again at the verge of getting fully paralyzed. My appeal also appeared in Dawn newspaper on September 21, 2009, but no philanthropist individual or institution has reached out to me. I am not a professional beggar; only circumstances have compelled me to contact you to seek financial help.

Though Rasheed’s letter had summed up every aspect of the matter I asked brother Athar Ejaz, the nazim of KIF’s Karachi branch, to meet him and collect his details. After meeting Rasheed, Athar got very much impressed by the courage and resilience shown by the young man in braving the hostile circumstances. Athar then contacted Mst Azra Ahmad, the generous donor of KIF in Karachi, and Rasheed’s determination to continue his studies despite his handicap moved her a lot and decided to help him out. She contacted various political and business personalities to arrange for a car or tri-cycle for Rasheed.

Being a great social worker, Mst Azra Ahmad holds great esteem in Karachi. Despite donating a lot to the Edhi Foundation, she worked for the foundation in its administration offices free of charge. She contacted several well-off personalities of the cosmopolitan city to sponsor Rasheed’s studies and treatment but received no positive response. This indifference on part of the affluent elite made her hugely depressed. Mst Azra Ahmad says: I had not much amount at my disposal to buy a motorcycle to Rasheed. I was very depressed when one day my son Sarmad returned from United States. I asked him to help Rasheed out to which he agreed. He sent me Rs100,000 after returning to the United States, so this exactly how we arranged a motorcycle for Rasheed. Today, the KIF is providing reasonable amount to Rasheed to pay for tuition fee, treatment expenses, fuel and other necessities. Rasheed’s wounds are now healing and he is returning to the path of normal life. I went to Karachi a few days ago, and decided to meet that gritty student to have first-hand information about his antecedents and that how he was able to cheat death.

When I along with brother Jawad Sherazi reached Karachi University, we had to span a three-kilometre stretch from the main entrance to Department of Food Sciences. This made us easily grasp the distress Rasheed might have been passing through daily to cover the distance from the main entrance to the classrooms without any transport. The faculty greeted us enthusiastically. Head of Department Dr Syed Asad Saeed expressed his gratitude that the KIF had adopted a student of his department. He acknowledged that still there are some institutions who reach out to such needy students to help the children of a lesser god excel in their academic pursuits. I enthusiastically embraced Rasheed as he entered the room. His face was a reminiscence of reflections of his journey from death toward life. However, his body language exhibited his will to swim against the tide and become a dynamic and prosperous man.

Rasheed mounted himself on his tri-cycle and we followed him to reach his home in Ayub Goth. As we entered, we saw a makeshift kitchen before a veranda and then two small bedrooms. Walls as well as doors and windows wore no paints and pieces of shabby cloth sheets were hanging as curtains. We met Rahseed’s father Shoaib and uncle Imran. Rasheed narrated his story as under: I and my elder brothers were born in Faisalabad’s Chak-49. Seeking prosperity, our father brought us to Karachi and hired several houses in slum areas to pass initial years of our stay in this city. Our father started working as porter in Jodia Bazaar. After matriculation, my elder brother Rafique started working with our father to earn livelihood and eventually we succeeded in buying our own house in Old Sabzi Mandi.

Later, Rafique purchased a Suzuki van to transport luggage, and our father bought a new push cart. As soon as we got some breathing space, our mother contacted abdominal cancer. She underwent various operations for next five to seven years of her life and during that period we became overdrawn owing to huge debts. I was in class VIII when our mother died in 1999. I decided to leave the school, however my brother persuaded me to complete my studies. Soon after I matriculated in year 2000, I got married because after my mother’s death, my sister-in-law (brother’s wife) was facing difficulties in running household affairs single-handedly.

In 2002, I did my F.Sc. In the meantime, I opened a medical store which I would run as part-time business after college. We had recovered only a little after the death of my mother as we cleared some of our debts which had been consumed on her treatment. I started trading in vegetables. Also, I decided to take admission in Federal Urdu University’s evening classes in food sciences with an idea that the subject would help me in completing my business endeavors. On that fateful day, I was going to the university on my bike when I had an accident. I was not wearing helmet, so when my head struck against the footpath, I fainted on the spot.

I gained my senses only in a hospital after several days of intensive treatment. Doctors told me that owing to injury in my spinal column, whole of my body had got paralysed. One doctor told me that surgery was the only available way-out but had only one percent success chances. I refused to undergo surgery. Then I was shifted to Civil Hospital where neurosurgeon Dr Junaid Ashraf told me that I would recover but gradually and slowly and then discharged me from the hospital. The most grueling and arduous period in my life started as I was shifted to my home. I was unable to move my body parts. I would only move some of my organs with the help of metal gadgets applied on my body. My wife would fulfill my all requirements, including call of the nature, on my bed. She served me so zealously and relentlessly that she conquered my heart and mind for ever.

I passed several months while being confined to the bed. In early days, we would buy medicines and I also underwent physiotherapy. However, we consumed all resources at our command as the time went by and an ominous day came when had become penniless. These perilous conditions annihilated my nervous system and I became a psycho patient. I was at the brink of death, much and much farther than the liveliness one could have in his routine life. On one fine morning, my wife pledged that she would take me back to leading a normal life. She instilled in me a passion to grow in my life and become a successful person by leaving aside all the handicaps. Her emboldening and inspiring thoughts brought tears to my eyes filled with sheer hopelessness.

My wife’s passion was true and the nature had willed a miracle through her hands. She started helping me in performing some physical exercises besides intuiting a healing faith in my mind. Months of toil bore fruit when I slowly became able to move some of my limbs one after the other. My wife, my younger brother Shahid and nephew Zubair made me able to walk, though slowly, and one day I became independent of all the gadgets, except for the one applied on my knee.

My brother bought me a prop and I started doing walking exercise in our courtyard. After a few days, my wife motivated me further to get admission in the university. Though I had become totally unfit for resuming my business, yet I was ambitious to resume my studies. The biggest hitch, however, in materializing my ambition was how to travel from home to the university and back home. My wife said that God will solve this problem too and one day she brought admission form from the university, and that is how I took admission to B.Sc Food Sciences. The only asset which survived the haphazard sell-off of belongings owing to poverty was our motorcycle. My brother or nephew would drop me at the main gate of the university wherefrom I would reach my department with the support of my prop. This practice continued for one year or so.

More economic constraints followed but my brother worked ever harder to buy a rickshaw. However, we were unable to pay rent of our house and accommodation crisis was looming large ahead of us. My motorcycle also developed a severe malfunction and I had no money to get it fixed. So, transportation once again turned out to be a major hitch for me but I didn’t lose my heart. My brother would take me to the university on rickshaw in the morning and I would take lift on my way back to home in the afternoon. Sometimes, my brother or nephew would take me to the university by bus but they would wait for closure of my classes to take me back home. However, this arrangement was not going to work for a long period of time. As our economic woes worsened, my uncle offered us accommodation in his house. This house was too small and owing to space constraints, my brother hired another accommodation. Again transportation problem emerged as the biggest hurdle and I had to suffer more in my journey to the university and back home. This state of affairs added to my depression.

On the advice of my father and wife, I gave applications to public and private social welfare institutions to buy me a vehicle or motorcycle, but nothing positive happened. Gripped by extreme frustration, one day I decided to abandon my studies. However, my wife did not let me give in to sheer hopelessness. I would tell her that how unfortunate it was that no individual or institution in Pakistan was willing to help me out. One day, I spoke my heart out to my wife as to why she had not let me die on the bed and why she had brought me back towards life’s razzmatazz where I had to suffer even more.

My wife did not say anything in response to my grumbles and resorted to seeking God’s blessing in her supplications even more humbly and more zealously. At last, God answered her supplications and a biker told me about the KIF and I reluctantly wrote an application to your foundation. Three or four weeks had passed and I had almost forgotten about writing any such application when I received a phone call from your office that initially brought nothing but amazement to me any my family. After a few days, the foundation provided me three-wheel motorcycle besides monthly stipends for treatment and studies. The foundation also provided me university fee. I am graciously thankful to the foundation and its staffers who prevented me from giving in to the forces of misfortune. This also rid me of my psychological problems. A few weeks of more treatment and healthier I will be to carry out my academic pursuits. Now I see no hurdle in completing my studies, and this could have not happened without translucent benefaction and iridescent patronage rendered by the foundation.

I asked Rasheed’s benevolent uncle, Muhammad Imran, who was sitting by, as to why and how he accommodated his brother’s family in an already congested house. Imran smiled and said: Rasheed’s father is my elder brother and he had taken great care of us when we were young and it was my duty to respond when he (Rasheed’s father and family) were in hot waters and steer them out of the crisis they were in. Abdul Rasheed again quipped: My uncle is a great man. He saved us from getting disoriented. And if every one takes care of other people gripped by misfortunes, then this earth will become a heaven free of miseries and agonies. I thank all the philanthropists and donors of the foundation to steer people like me out of crises.

My example has set a precedent for others to follow. My motorcycle was purchased with just Rs50,000 but it made my life a lot more easier and convenient. Now I will be able to lead a prosperous yet contented life to transform the destiny of my family. If no individual or organization comes forward to help out needy students like me, then no young man will be able to reach his destination. Abdul Rasheed’s sordid tale moved me a lot. I thanked Allah Almighty that still a lot of people with a live conscience are living in Pakistan who are ready to help out the needy. Otherwise, they were millionaires who refused to entertain Mst Azra Ahmad’s request to reach out to a needy student like Abdul Rasheed.

Such people with lust of collecting more and more money don’t know that the money they spend on feasting out their families and friends could change the destiny of a next door human who might have stranded in a quagmire of disease and poverty.