Sabir Arif lives in the slums, works as a literature tutor and dreams of Dickens.
Sabir says his great challenge in life has been his caste. He was born a Deendar Changar – Pakistan’s version of the ‘untouchables’. Sabir, however, is not a typical victim of the abject poverty and prejudice found in the city of Lahore today.
He reminisces about how he came across old story books while picking garbage as a young boy and went on to succeed in higher education. He now works as a tutor and teaches local children in the slums in Lahore, where members of his community are usually made to live. He also describes the prejudice he has faced studying in colleges from other students due to his background.
Sabir’s story shows how the human spirit and individual dignity can challenge the ancient and modern prejudices in Pakistan. He also compares the condition of the poor in Lahore today to the descriptions of poverty in Victorian England which he has read about through his love of the works of Charles Dickens.
Film by kind permission of the Express Tribune Pakistan
Producer and Reporter: Rabia Mehmood
As the world faces the critical issues of Covid-19, climate emergency and political disquiet, what are the novel democratic approaches we can deploy to tackle these acute and existential challenges?