When I thought about writing myself, I realize that it’s not that easy to tell the world about ourselves, Explaining the hardships we have gone through and barriers which tried to break us is a tough task actually. But the thing which encouraged me to write is that it may be a hope for someone else. It may encourage a person who is about to quit.
I belong to a small town located in Gujranwala Pakistan. I was born in a very poor family where meeting your livelihood expenses was near to an achievement. Having food and shelter was all think about. My father was a fruit seller. Getting education was not at all required in my family. There was no concept of getting education for girls. They were born just to learn household skills, to get married, to take care of the husband, in laws and children. That was all about a girl’s life purpose. Doing anything as she wants for her own wellbeing was out of question.
In such a conservative environment, I made a wish to get education. I fell in love with books at very early age. I was a bright student in school. I had problems of getting copies and stationary for my school but this did not discourage me. I kept saving my little pocket money. I gave all my energy to my studies and always performed well in school without any tuition or guidance from home. When I completed primary education, my father said to me that it’s enough education for you as you can write and read now. He told me that he just can’t afford the expenses of a private school. He further added that you should learn how to cook and how to manage home, so that you would be a successful wife, daughter-in-law and a mother. I was just 10 years old when he tried to explain me that only those girls get respect in society who are expert in household skills. Education can’t be a reason of getting respect in this society for a girl because this is a thing which gets no interest from in-laws and husband. He said that they will not eat your degrees when they will be hungry. They will be interested in a good food which you will cook and that is the only way to get their love. I cried a lot after listening this. I requested my mother to convince him at any cost. She explained my situation to him. He agreed but then I got admitted in a government school so that my education will not be a financial burden for my father. I had no problem with this decision rather I was happy because my purpose was only to get education. School type was not an issue for me. I felt like I got my life back.
But problems know well to perform their role. After one year, my father had a loss and he had to lose his job. In those days, we had days without food even, we could not pay our electricity bill and electricity meter was cut down. We had very tough time. But this problem could not discourage me; I kept focusing on my study. I kept going to school without ironing my uniform for whole one year and it was really a psychological pain. My mother was used to wash our clothes on hand pump. I prepared for my annual exams in moon light because there was no electricity; we had no even a torch light at home. And when my result was declared, I got first position in my class. This was a very big achievement for me. I realized that hard work will always pay back. We spent one whole year without electricity. Then my father managed to get it back. But next year, a very big loss was waiting for my family. My father died because of liver cancer. I was just 13 years old at that time,many people advised my mother to stop me from getting education, because there was no way of income. But my mother said that her education is not a burden because there is no fee in government school. I completed my matriculation with A grade. I further got admission in a government college for intermediate. My mother kept supporting me because I never disappointed her. But society and relatives tried to convince her to find out a spouse for me, according to them Matriculation was a great degree for me. But I wanted to set an example so that other girls would not have to face the same challenges as I had to face regarding education, so I completed my intermediate whatever the circumstances were there. I got good grades in intermediate too. But there was no government college for graduation in my town and my mother had no way to afford a private college expenses. I asked help from God and God sent an angel in my life. One of my cousins took responsibility of my graduation; he is well educated. But every other person in my surroundings criticized him except my mother. They advised him that he should take responsibility of my marriage rather my study. But he said that educating a girl is like educating a generation and that she is too young to get married yet, she is fond of study and I don’t want that there come a time in her life when she will think that the shortage of money was a barrier for her study. After being independent, she can support her family too. They will not have to ask for help from others
I thanked God and started BBA (Hon’s) at University of the Punjab. My other cousins got jealous because they all are uneducated and they don’t want me to be better than them. I kept silence in answer of their taunts but then they started calling me proud. They even tried to put finger on my character and abused co education. They said I’m having an affair. They started following me when I would go to the university on daily basis. They wanted to catch me with some boy to stop my education but God knows that I was clear so He protected me from their evil. My all focus was just towards my education and I did not care their words. By the grace of God, I completed my graduation and they could not find a single thing which they could use against me.
I started doing a job as an accountant in a private school in my town to support my family and my sister’s education. Both of my brothers also started working and the conditions started to become easy. But then life came to us with most shocking incident. My younger brother was suffering from brain tumor and after having 2 months of continuous pain and struggle for life, he died. It’s almost impossible for me to write down my feelings right now when I think all that suffering we had. His separation broke us. I was completely lost. The plans made by me and my brother looked to an end.
- But then I realized that my responsibility have been increased towards my family. I started Masters in Political Science from University of the Punjab with my job. I did it as a private student and without any tuition or academy. I worked as tutor for the children of same school in the evening to meet all expenses of my family. In those days, I got job in telecom sector of Pakistan, There I met Sister Zeph. She gave a new hope to me as she told stories of different women/girls at her centre who are living more difficult lives than me. She helped me to recover from psychological pressure towards my family. She always says, you are young and educated, you can do anything. She is a true inspiration for me. She encourages me to live life with full zest. Whenever I think about her life and her struggle for the betterment of human being, I get motivated. And I am part of her NGO “Zephaniah Free Education” which is empowering women/girls in Pakistan through education and skills. My wish to help others gets stronger when I saw people living a hopeful life because of education. I want to make this world a better place for others with a rule “education for all”.
I have completed masters but thirst for education is still there as I want to do MPhil whenever I get a chance and I will have enough financial resources. I am doing a job but I spend my salary for my family’s expenses and my sister’s education. Difficulties I faced did not discourage me rather they worked as a motivation. I always took impossible as I am possible. Poverty, psychological pressure of society and deaths of my dear ones made me stronger. I can face anyone and I don’t give right them to criticize my character in any way rather some of them now come to me to take suggestions regarding studies of their children. They tell my story to their daughters and advise them to be strong enough like me. I feel so satisfied at that moment. Though I’m not that rich, my monthly salary is 150$ only but money can’t buy that happiness I feel when I see those same people who called my mother fool for allowing me to get education, now call her lucky because she has a daughter like me. Education is one of basic rights like food and shelter. It is the only answer of every hardship.