Very little is revealed about Sarim's background. Either his parents died in the aftermath of the Total War, or they gave him to Obaid, believing Obaid offered a better life for their son. Life with Obaid could hardly be described as "better," but Sarim did turn out to be an exceptional beggar. Unfortunately, Sarim's begging abilities were not enough to protect him from Obaid. Obaid's cruel punishment caused Sarim to lose part of one of his legs.
Sarim's begging improved after the accident--a maimed child could bring in far more money than a healthy one. His spirit was not broken, but he became much more cautious, warning Ali to be careful as well. Although Obaid had not yet hurt one of the girls in the begging ring, there was no guarantee that he would continue to leave their discipline to hs partner, Nafia. Sarim did not want his best friend to suffer the same fate he had.