Laundering life and linen!

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Labour Day or whatever, she is to complete day’s work

Zubair Qureshi

After her husband’s death, the shop remained closed for a few days; she and her daughter survived on the little they had. “Soon I felt it was time to get going with life – sooner the better.”
In 2008, 55-year-old Shamim’s husband, Akram Bhatti, a dhobi (washer man), died of heart attack.
Instead of seeking charity or becoming dependant on her relatives, she chose the honourable way and has kept the laundry shop operational since then. The shop is known as Sufiyan Nasir Dry Cleaners, named after her son, in Banaras Colony.
Khala Shamim was quite forthcoming and confident in telling her story to even in the presence of other shopkeeper who had gathered at the shop.
She began, “Even during my husband’s lifetime, I used to lend him a helping hand collecting, washing and pressing clothes. But it was different then, he was still around.” After her husband’s death, the shop remained closed for a few days; she and her daughter survived on the little they had. “Soon I felt it was time to get going with life – sooner the better.”
The landlord of the one-room accommodation gave her one-month’s indemnity to pay the rent Rs1,500, or else, she had to vacate. The shop is Rs2,000 per month.
Surprisingly, there was no help from her two sons and two daughters who are married and live separately. One girl is with her.
Khala Shamim, who hails from Faisalabad says: “I thought it would be a waste of time to look towards others for help.
After only one week of my husband’s death I was back in the shop.” She added, “In the beginning, as expected, it was awkward for me and strange for the bazaar to accept a widow running the laundry. But then things normalised.”
Now she has been accepted by everyone in the market and she and her shop has become quite popular – which means better business. She opens the shop at five in the morning every day.
A customer, Mansoor, who had come to collect his laundry said, everyone in Banaras Colony respects Khala Shamim and supports her business. “This is the only way to help her. I don’t think she would accept help in any other way, like charity,” he said. A shopkeeper, Ramzan says “she’s like family to us.” Khala Shamim is quite contented with herself about the decision to reopen the shop.

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