One upon a time…….

One upon a time there was a girl. She spent her days playing endlessly with her cousins and siblings. Life was luxurious with comforts in abundance. Her male cousins and siblings would attend a school very far from home. Their absence would make her sad but they would be home in summer and winter making her extremely delighted. .

She played endlessly for fourteen years.

One day she found her elders gathered in a room engaged in a serious conversation. Her name was being mentioned repeatedly but she had been a disciplined girl of late. Why were they discussing her?

At the end of the day she was summoned to the room. They had decided she would study to become a medical doctor.

Doctor like the pretty lady doctor who visited her aunts and mother to give them a baby as a gift!

She was excited and bewildered. She wanted to be like the pretty doctor but why should she study?

Her brothers had to give up play to study. She was content spending her life playing hide and seek.

Her elder brother declared it was his wish to see one of his sisters setting a precedent for Muslim girls of the area to study and have careers.

So now she would have to abandon her plays and study seriously.

A male teacher would come to teach her but she had to maintain purdah.

With a curtain in between the teacher and herself, she started studying for Grade ten exams.

She missed her carefree life but she was determined to make her brother proud.

In almost eighteen months, she passed her Grade Ten exams.

Now she would have to take admission in a college. It would mean leaving her mother. Who would plait her hair? Who would cook delicious dishes for her?

It did not matter. The elders had to be pleased.

She left her home in Patiala to study at the Lahore College for Women. She got through to the medical college with flying colours. She was one of the four Muslim girls to be studying medicine at Lady Hardinge Medical College, New Delhi.

She became a doctor and got her first job in Swat.

Her family was distressed. How will she as a single woman survive in Pathans dominated area?

Her brother declared his sister being a doctor will be respected in Swat.

She was and still is remembered by many in Swat for her passionate care of the sick.

Came 1947 and her family’s world transformed drastically.

Till they could reclaim their lost fortunes, their only hope was her house in Swat first and Nowshera later.

It was in Nowshera that she met the anchor of her life. A man who gave her his name, unflinching support in pursuing her dreams and together they shared six decades of exemplary companionship. Together they rejoiced the several successes of their four children, eleven grandchildren and eight great grand-children. Together they selflessly toiled hard for a better tomorrow of their people and their country.

She had many dreams. Her dreams though were seldom personal. She loved the village that embraced her whole heartedly as a daughter in law. She desired for the village to be religiously, educationally and socially enlightened. She aspired for education of girls and awareness of good health of women.

She wanted the people of province that sheltered her family in days of distress to be healthy. In creating a better world, she never urged for recognition.

It was only when she eventually left for a better world that stories of her generosity became well known.

She was my grandmother. A woman many will always remember as the ultimate symbol of perseverance, resilience, nobleness and compassion. Even when very ill, she always said by Grace of Allah I am fine. Sorrows were to be accepted with patient silence and joys with humble prayers of thankfulness.

Girls had to study and work for sitting at home would make them indulge in gossip. Husband was to be respected. Children were to be disciplined. Money to be spent sensibly on personal needs but others education and health care needs were to be generously fulfilled.

When I read of women of substance, of women advocating for equal rights, of women trying to change lives, I often think of a woman whose life is an example of how despite odds, lives and thinking can be changed by people who selflessly aim for the betterment of society and people without concern for recognition.

We definitely need more people like you Mummy today.

May Allah always bless you and the people that you loved tremendously!




3 Comments

This is an excellent tribute to the lady who lived for others.My sincere congratulations to you that you come from a respectable family. May God bless you.

Inspirational story.Rightly pointed that how should one work for betterment of women instead of crying.
I am thankful to the lady, for she chose Pakhtun area to work in .

Wow! Amazing indeed and truly inspirational as I enjoyed it to the core and it touched my heart profoundly.

She was a woman of loftiest Character as she was a genuine “Deliverer” from all dimensions.

Many hats off to her and many thanks to you for such an inspirational story.
Tipu Sultan

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