This is the promised post, I’ve finally found the time to post this.
My sister had the luck to sit with an elderly couple, (I had a nice old auntie beside me, too, but she didn’t tell me any inspirational stories!) and the story she related from them was absolutely amazing!
They were a Pahstun couple, sitting gracefully beside the window.
“This is my first time on a plane”, the auntie said, “I’m visiting my two daughters who have been married to men here in London. I’m here for a month, two weeks for each of my daughters. I have five daughters and one son, two of my married daughters are in America, and the last daughter is in Lahore, she’s not married yet. My son has just finished doing medicine from China, he’ll be reaching Lahore in a few days.
I’m originally from an isolated village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where educating girls is considered to be improper, and so girls are not sent to school or educated at all. Boys, on the other hand, are given a lot of importance, and they are all educated.
I went to school in that village, and I worked my way to get a Bachelors in Arts, although I was not given encouragement or appreciation while my two brothers were applauded for their efforts. The only people who encouraged me to go on were my father and my brothers, and if it wasn’t for them I would’ve never gone to school at all. For me, though, education was really important, and I refused to back down.
I had the good luck of getting married to a man who believed in educating his daughters, and when we started having daughters, we made the decision of moving to Lahore where it would be easier for them to go to good schools and universities. People would mock us and say, “Oh poor them, they have five daughters! What good would five daughters do?” But I made up my mind to show them that my five daughters would be as good as any of their sons, even better.
When we first moved, I remember spending money on useless things, I was so excited! Lahore, this big, bold city with all it’s pleasures and colours, compared to my little village! We would go about and discover for ourselves what it was like being in such a big city. But as our daughters grew older and their studies more serious, we realised we had to use our money wisely and contribute to their education. My husband worked in a government office, so we had plenty of money rolling in, but I wanted to use it for our children.
My husband worked very hard, and even then he used to come home and give a couple of hours to help the kids with their homework. These days, fathers don’t bother with their children much, and get tutors! In my day, getting a tutor for your child was a shameful act.
My girls grew up and went to good reputed universities, they worked hard and showed our extended family how being a girl is in no way a burden or a bad thing. The day they graduated was perhaps one of the best days of my life, being filled with such pride. I had done it, I had strived and Allah had helped me escape those narrow minded folks to educate my girls.
One of my girls who got married to someone in the UK continued her education, too. I’m on my way to meet her now.”
She smiled, a smile that reflected her life, and then closed her eyes to sleep, because we still had a long way to go.