Fahima Sultani gives thanks to her mother for supporting her education and promises to give her future daughter a life of opportunity.
“It was my mom who raised her voice to give me the freedom of education.”
It was a quiet, cold, and windy day in winter when I heard the clergy’s announcement from the mosque’s loudspeaker. He was informing people that it was time to register their children for the coming school year. I ran quickly to my mom with my broad smile and bright eyes and begged her to convince my father to register me for school. Finally, she succeeded and he agreed!
When I went to school on the first day, my mom hugged and kissed me many, many times. With tears in her beautiful eyes, she stroked me with her rough, weathered hands and said, “My dearest, study hard, dream big, and be the best. I couldn’t go to school when I was a girl, but I was very eager to go. I want you to learn to read so you can read stories to me.”
When my mom was a child, she could only attend religious lessons at the mosque. She was never allowed to go to school. She wanted desperately to have a pen, notebook, books and a pink bag, but my grandfather never provided her any. In those days, she played with the neighbor’s son who was going to school. Since my mom was so eager to have a pen and a book, she asked the boy to just let her touch his books and pens. But he told my mom she would have to tend and feed his family’s sheep for five days before he would let her touch his books and pens. She was so passionate for this chance that she agreed. And for five days, from morning until night, she cared for his sheep.
My mom remembers those days. She has done her best to be a better mom than her own mother. Her mom, my grandmother, never tried to send her to school. When one of our relatives argued with my father not to let me attend school, it was my mom who raised her voice to give me the freedom of education. Though her own dreams were never realized, she dreamed big for me.
Now, I have graduated from high school, and I was a top student every year. I made her dream come true and I am working hard to get a scholarship to pursue my education in a better environment and university. This is all possible because of my mom who always stands up and supports me. Though my mother could never help me with my homework or solve any problem I faced, she played the key role in my studies.
I dream of a different life for the daughter I will have some day. She will do the things that I was not able to do: She will go to the best school and ride a pink bike. I will always support her through every problem she faces at school or with her homework or projects. I will make her feel comfortable to share her thoughts and dreams with me, and I will help her to make them come true. I will NEVER let my daughter feel disappointed about being a girl. I want her to grow up feeling proud of her gender.
My daughter will not have to convince her family to let her finish high school. She will not have to beg to attend university. Our relatives will have no right to oppose our decisions. My daughter’s world will be safe and free from violence. She will grow up in an environment where she can stay outside after 5pm. Men and boys will not be a threat for her, so we will let her talk to boys and other male classmates without the fear of what people will say or what bad things may happen to her.
My daughter will grow up in a place where she can talk loudly at home and in the streets and laugh without everyone stopping to stare and disapprove. She will feel safe while walking outside in the evening, daytime, and early morning. She will feel safe taking a taxi alone. She will proudly ride a bike on the streets. She will talk on her mobile phone outside her home and not worry that random boys will ask for her phone number. She will wear jeans, or short dresses, athletic wear, or business clothes and boys will not chase and disturb her.
My mother dreamed big so I could have a better life than she has had. And I will dream bigger so my daughter will have a better life than me.
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