of little Asghar Hussein
By Sher Khan
years old Asghar Hussein can carry only five bricks at a time. Brick is
an important element of construction in this country but builders rarely
use monster trucks or forklifts. Yet manpower is cheaper than engine
power. There are plenty of Asghar Husseins who will do the job for a few
Asghar Hussein dumps five bricks on the pile and walks back to the truck
for the next load. He adjusts a piece of cloth on his head that looks
like a turbine. Truck driver places one brick on his head then puts
another four on top of it. Asghar Hussein grabs both ends of the bricks
with his tiny hands and slowly walks toward the construction site. He is
wearing a pair of torn green shorts; rest of his naked body is covered
with brick dust. Itís a humid and sunny day, causing everyone to
sweat. The sweat runs through Asghar Husseinís dusty body making
In a fair world Asghar Hussein should have been in a classroom or in a
playground, playing. But Asghar Hussein is the seventh of eight brothers
and two sisters. His father was the helper of a truck driver. One day he
fell off from the truck and went to the hospital. Doctors did an
emergency operation after two days and no bed was available in this
overcrowded hospital. He stayed in the hallway of the hospital until he
died. Asghar Hussein knows his father could have easily been saved if he
was treated properly.
All elderly brothers of Asghar Hussein live and work in different
places. One of his sisters left with a guy and never came back. Another
seventeen years old sister sleeps all day. In the evening, she whispers
with different people behind the slum and disappears for the night. She
returns with a pale face and cheap cosmetics strewed all over her face.
Itís only Asghar Hussein; his younger brother, one sister and his
mother live in this small shade of the slum. They all work to survive.
Asghar Hussein never went to a school nor he had a nice toy to play
Actually Asghar Hussein does have a toy. Itís a tiny car, rusted and
no wheels left. This city has several spots to dump trashes but only a
small trashcan stands in the middle of huge pile of trashes. The city
council is as corrupted as the overflowed trash can and never bothers to
solve this problem. Residents of this city freely throw trashes all
around the trashcan, which is a diamond mine for Asghar Hussein and his
friends. Often they find items that are rejected by others but precious
to them. This is where Asghar Hussein found his toy, the only toy of his
Asghar Hussein smiles imagining an excellent dinner that he will have
this evening. Volunteers of local Madrassa are cooking nice food and the
air is filled with aroma of spicy meat. They have erected a huge tent to
accommodate hundreds of people and cylinder like loudspeakers are
hanging from those tent-poles. Famous Islamic scholar Moulana Al-haj
Mohammad Jalal Al-din Madani will deliver speech tonight. Itís an all
night party and poor people will get a chance to eat some nice foods.
Asghar Hussein runs after work. He will have to take a quick shower and
there will be a long wait in front of the municipal water tap. This is
the only source of water for the slum where Asghar Hussein lives in.
Everyone takes shower, do laundry and drink form the same tap.
Event starts right after the evening prayer and serving free food to
poor people. Asghar Hussein barely made it on time. Mr.Kamal Arif is the
Principal of local college. He picks up the microphone and expresses his
happiness for having the great Moulana in this occasion. He is a vivid
reformist of Islam and national newspapers happily publish his articles.
Mr. Kamal Arif often writes condemning the actions of Islamic
fundamentalists. But today itís not the place for singing the same
After introducing the Moulana, Mr.Arif bursts with anger and slams the
Jews. He does not talk about child labor neither he mentions about
planned family. Population boom of this country does not bother him at
all. He has no sympathy for Asghar Hussein and Co. but he painfully
describes the agony of Palestinians. Mr. Arif fumes with Islamic
brotherhood and declares his solidarity with all Muslims of the world.
Keeping his shameless face straight, Mr. Arif finishes his speech with a
few more cursing and respectfully moves the microphone towards the
Moulanaís opening speech starts with a long Sura of the Quran. His
shrieking noise fills the night but the whole audience listens with pin
drop silence, mesmerized by Moulanaís recitation. Moulana is an
extremely influential person. People believe him more than their
political leader or any other entity. Most of the people of this country
live below property level, naturally majority of this audience is blue
color labor and they are sitting on plastic papers. At the front, an
area with nice carpet is reserved for respected and educated persons
like Kamal Arif, Chief Police Officer of this city, Government
Executives and rich businessmen.
Moulana does not talk about child labor either, instead he recites verse
52.24 and describes how pearl like boys will serve drinks in the heaven!
Forget controlling the population! Moulana clearly disagrees with the
notion of birth control. He brags about his beloved prophet and how he
discouraged this Un-Islamic act. Moulana himself owns four wives and he
is a proud father of twenty-two children. Two of his wives are expecting
Moulana continues his speech with different verses of the Quran. He
recites Sura Al- Waqia and repeats verse 56.22 twice. Itís one of his
favorite verses. Moulana explains how believers of Islam will be
rewarded with beautiful women in the next world. Virgins with beautiful,
big, and lustrous eyes will be waiting at the gate of the heaven. His
own crude description makes him a little horny. Moulana pauses for a
minute; shuts his eyes and comes close to orgasm.
The sever punishment for un-believers and Kafirs is another topic that
Moulana describes elaborately. However, Muslims will always have an
advantage over unbelievers. They may seek forgiveness from Allah and
perform Haj to wipe out all of their sin. Those who cannot afford to
perform Haj will be excused and their earthly sufferings will be
compensated after death.
Chief Police officer feels a bit relaxed. Criminals of this town pay him
more money than his usual salary. His conscious always bugs him for this
heinous act. He plans to buy a few more property in this city and then
perform Haj to clean up his sinful past.
All government officials sitting at the front row depend on bribe that
consistently bothers them. Mr. Kamal Arif often manages money from
college fund to meet his personal needs. He is also ashamed for his
action of reforming Islam. They unanimously plan to perform Haj and ask
for forgiveness from Allah.
People sitting with Asghar Hussein feel lucky for being poor. If the
sufferings of this earthly life assure excellent food and beautiful
women after death, they wonít complain. They will remain poor happily
and let rich people enjoy this stinking earthly life.
Leaning on the tent pole, tired Asghar Hussein was listening to Moulana,
half-asleep. He asks himself, why Moulana does not mention about toys
and milk in the heaven. Asghar Hussein loves drinking milk but he cannot
afford to buy this luxurious drink very often. He tries to remember when
was the last time he had a glass of milk?
No one cares for little Asghar Husssein! Moulana does not care! His
Allah is too busy with heavenly Houries. Corrupted government of this
country has nothing to offer. Intellectuals like Kamal Arif are seized
by Israel-Palestine conflict and Asghar Husseinís problem does not
shake their ego. Businessmen are happy to having cheap child labor.
Moulana keeps entertaining his audiences with fables and takes them to a
fantasyland of heaven and hell. Little Asghar Hussein falls sleep,
griping his only toy with one hand. Sleek moonlight brushes off Asghar
Husseinís bare body and wishes she could to do something for this