Sadullah Bayazit is an education volunteer who spent 22.5 years in Pakistan. Beyazit, who went to Pakistan as a student and continued to teach there after graduation, worked hard for thousands of students while living on humble means with his family. The following is a personal account of his life Pakistan, a life smarted by substantial financial difficulties but lived in humility and peace.
I went to Pakistan as a student in 1996. Between 1998 and 2001, I could not go to Turkey both due to summer schools and because of my pending compulsory military service. When I went to my hometown Kahramanmaras in 2002, I said to myself, “I wonder if I can get engaged” because it would take yet another year for me to return to Turkey again. However, I could not find a suitable candidate. Conduced by my brother and a friend, I opened the matter to one of their elderly colleagues. My friend asked me to tell his colleague about my wish not directly among others but when I was alone with him. My friend added, “If you say to him anything in the open, he will speak about it openly and embarrass you too!” said. I did as my friend had told me. That gentleman said to me, “I will recommend a suitable candidate for you, and you will meet soon.” Later, he described a family to me. That family owned the house where I had stayed as a tenant for 3.5 years when I was a high school student. First, we did a preliminary check with someone known both to me and to my former landlord – or should I say, my future father-in-law. There was a problem. I had already visited my future father-in-law two days ago as an ‘old acquaintance’. When our common acquaintance opened him the issue, I was told he had replied, “I know Sadullah, he is a teacher in Pakistan. Let him come with his family and meet us” and approached the matter very positively.
I and my wife-to-be had our first arranged meeting and said “yes” to each other. Later, we got engaged without delay. However, we could not have our wedding in that year, because neither I nor my father had the financial means for that. I was working as a teacher, but the amount I saved from my salary was not enough to pay for the wedding expenses. That was why, we had to stay engaged for an entire year. I returned to Peshawar, but as engaged. During that period, I could only save $1500. The next summer, we had our wedding in Kahramanmaras with that much money.
My dad did not have even a single penny to give me
We completed our preparations to return to Pakistan, but neither I nor my wife was left with much money. We did not have the heart to cash the jewellery gifted to us on our wedding. The director general of our schools in Pakistan had come to visit me in my hometown Goksun and given me $400. He had also said to my father, “Hand them some money, they will be travelling to Pakistan by road. They will also have to set up their house there.” My poor father did not have even a single penny to give to us at that time. It was not possible for us to travel by plane at that time. It was very expensive and the flight was from Istanbul to Karachi only. After Karachi, we had to buy separate tickets for Peshawar. We’d also packed a heavy luggage since we had been just married. We would be asked to pay an amount equal to the ticket fare for the heavy baggage. Due to all those reasons, we travelled by road from Turkey to Peshawar, Pakistan. We arrived in Quetta after two days. A friend, who was a teacher in Quetta, hosted us gracefully in his house. We had a rest at his house for the night.
I did not have enough money to buy us airline tickets from Quetta to Peshawar. I was left with approximately $200. With that much money, we would only be able to take a bus or the train from Quetta to Peshawar. We could not find any seat on the train, so we decided to go by bus and bought our tickets. It was summer and it was scorching hot. My wife witnessed such an extreme heat for the first time in her life. We got on a bus with air conditioning. The driver insisted we put our luggage on top of the bus. Saying there was no need, we got them loaded in the undercarriage. We travelled for five hours on that old-fashioned bus resting on leaf-springs until Sibi, a city at the border of Sindh province. We almost never managed to sit in our seats due to constant hopping in the bus. At times, we even hit our heads on the roof due to bumps and high speed. When we arrived in Jacobabad, the air conditioner vents above our heads started leaking water. While we complained about the hot weather and the bumpy bus equipped with leaf-springs, it was time water started to drip. We used plastic bags and other things we could find to close the air conditioner vents and plug the leak.
After such a troublesome 21-hour journey, we eventually arrived in Peshawar. We were surprised when we were about to receive our luggage. We understood the reason why the driver had insisted, “Don’t put your luggage in the undercarriage!” As a newly-married couple hailing from Turkey, we finally realized that it had not been in our fate to eat the white cottage cheese or molasses we had brought with ourselves, thinking we would not find them in Pakistan. During the frequent stops and change of passengers, someone had ‘irredeemably changed’ the location of our food suitcase without our permission 😊
My wife could not eat for days
We had arrived in Peshawar, but we needed to find a house first. We also had to rent the house and buy furniture… I had only $100 in my pocket 😊 We converted it into rupees and bought our most basic needs. We had to stay somewhere else until we found for ourselves a residence of our own. We had an elderly local brother and I knew he had a mud house in a slum. We thought we could stay there temporarily. I used to stay in that house with other friends when I was single.
Meanwhile, my wife encountered an altogether different geography, culture, and climate. When we arrived in Peshawar, it was the monsoon season characterised by extreme humidity and stifling heat. We spent the first days in a room with a single fan rotating on the ceiling. In those days, we neither had any air conditioning in the house we stayed, nor did we have enough money to buy an air conditioner. In those first days, my wife could not even enter the kitchen. Even the aroma of the vegetables and the fruits smelt very different to her. Burdened by the lack of appetite due to humidity and stifling heat, she could not eat for many days. She had already been exhausted during the wedding rush and the tiring journey of 3-4 days that immediately followed it. We stayed in that house for a few days. At the same time, we kept looking for a house in Hayatabad, where our school was located. However, my wife could not even enter many houses. She was especially distressed by the smell of spices infused in kitchens. In that way, we returned from 30-40 houses without even taking a tour. Finally, we rented the upper floor of a doctor’s house through a real estate agent.
Our school principal Mr. Osman helped us a lot. Everyone respected him and called him “Father Osman” because of his avuncular demeanour and kindred spirit. He really assisted me no different than my own father. I borrowed money from him for buying my house’s furniture. First, we managed to spread the most inexpensive Iranian-made wall-to-wall carpets on the floor. We also bought floor cushions and leaned them against the walls. We did not have any means to buy sofas anyway. Those cushions did not take up space; they could be carried easily and they were really inexpensive. Moreover, they could also serve as mattresses for the guests who stayed for the night. We used those cushions for 15 years by periodically washing the fabric and the stuffing. We were also able to buy a refrigerator and a bed. “We’ll take the remaining items gradually!” we promised to ourselves. We did not have a washing machine for 3-4 months. During that time, my wife hand-washed our clothes. With my salary equalling $510, we were able to afford the rent, the utility bills, and the kitchen expenditures while striving for paying our debts and buying the remaining household items. I had no means for going to school by my own car or a taxi. It took 20 minutes to walk from home to school. Leaving the house early, I walked that distance to and fro every day.
To be continued…