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But I have promises to keep

Carrying her walking stick she made slow but consistent steps for a bright future
01:00 AM Jan 21, 2024 IST | Dr. Showkat Rashid Wani
but i have promises to keep
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The woods are lovely dark and deep;

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But I have promises to keep;

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And Miles to go before I sleep;

And Miles to go before I sleep.

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Today I shall share a story of an elderly lady who made a big sacrifice for her divorced daughter. Mymoona was very particular about the education of her daughter Iqra. She admitted her to the best school of the valley. She had carved realistic dreams for her children and left no stone unturned to provide happy childhood experiences to them despite financial constraints.

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During childhood she used to accompany her daughter to the tuition centre early in the morning, fetch bread for her from the local baker and wait there for hours till she completed her lessons. She would visit photostat shops xeroxing study material /notes for her daughter.

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Once Mymoona had to undergo a surgery everyone advised to get it done in the private nursing home. She preferred the Government hospital to save money for depositing the fee of her children. Iqra was a bit introvert and reserved in nature from childhood. She did not mix much with people.

The girl completed her Masters in Physics with good marks There were suggestions from relatives to get her married. Iqra received a number of good proposals for her marriage. She had her own benchmarks for her potential husband which mismatched with the experience and choice of her parents. Despite repeated counselling from his parents Iqra did not change her mind and married the boy of her choice, Zahid who was an entrepreneur.

Zahid was highly ambitious and wanted to become a millionaire overnight. He was looking for short-cuts and often landed in debt. Due to fluctuations in his business he suffered frequent emotional out-bursts. He often poured his anger on innocent Iqra.

He was always hunting for excuses to trap her on minor issues. He questioned her facial expressions and often interrupted her when she used to talk to her parents on the phone. He caged her within the four walls of the house and never took her out for entertainment.  When Iqra desired to continue her studies he did not allow it.

Iqra had a good collection of books and had brought them to her in-law’s house in a box. When she opened the box she was mocked by her mother-in-law for bringing books instead of material goods. The box packed with books was shifted to the old store in the house. It also contained some important documents of Iqra.

One day Iqra went to her parents’ home. In her absence her mother-in-law sold the box along with books to a scrap seller without her knowledge. Back home when Iqra mildly resisted, her in-laws pouched upon her like wild animals and muzzled her genuine voice. She faced the brunt silently. One day during midnight she was struggling with unbearable pain. Her husband sleeping nearby did not bother to ask her or take her to the hospital.

Next morning, she was allowed to go to the hospital alone after completing the routine domestic chorus. When she handed over the medical prescription to her husband to get the medicines, he purchased a few and told all were not required. When her mother visited her she was pained to see the pitiable condition of her ailing daughter. She met her medical expenses.

Just to get his office renovated to lure and cheat customers and pay part of the debt, Zahid forced Iqra to sell her gold coins received as Mahr. Despite all these atrocities Iqra never unveiled the shortcomings of her husband in front of her relatives and strangers. She loved Zahid but it was unreciprocated. The cold vibes were tearing Iqra from inside. Zahid was very arrogant and rude in his behaviour. He never greeted her mother-in-law with a smile. He was very ungrateful and complained about her behaviour.

Iqra experienced a stressful pregnancy period. Zahid and his mother were expecting that she should give birth to a son. He displayed peculiar personality dispositions which was a nightmarish experience for Iqra.

Zahid came to know about a doctor who would disclose the gender of the foetus and he learned that it was a girl child. It was not good news for him. He was thinking how to get rid of this girl child. His google history revealed articles about termination of pregnancy by natural methods. He wanted to avoid medical intervention as female feticide is a crime.

Zahid suggested Iqra abort the child at a later stage of pregnancy. Iqra mildly resisted. When she revealed Zahid’s evil intentions to her parents they were shell shocked. The old couple gathered strength to save the life of the child.

Zahid mooted an application to the Mohalla Committee president in which he levelled serious allegations against Iqra. A series of meetings were held but Zahid was not willing to accommodate Iqra, he put a strange condition before the committee members that he will accommodate his wife but not her child citing she has borne it through illegal relations. The committee members shamefully put the proposal before Iqra and her parents and showed a soft corner towards Zahid.

Finally, the couple got divorce. Back at her parents home, things were not same. She had to ask for permission to do the daily chorus. Her sister-in-law was always hunting for an excuse to create drama and harass Iqra. But Iqra shed silent tears but never reciprocated. Her room was given to the children of her brother and she stayed in a small store like room with her girl child who was born with a foot   deformity.

One day Iqra’s daughter accidently broke the toy of her sister-in-law’s child. The sister-in-law found this is the right opportunity to strike and the family fission took place. Iqra cursed herself and developed suicidal ideation to end her life along with her handicapped child.

During these trying times another ugly episode took place, the ailing father of Iqra expired due to massive cardiac arrest. She lost a big support of her life.

The old woman hand-holded her daughter at this critical juncture. She knotted a back -belt   and left home in search of a job. She conducted home tuitions, she had been a private school teacher earlier.  She contacted her former students and they gladly offered her to teach their children.

Carrying her walking stick she made slow but consistent steps for a bright future. She reaffirmed an old time tested adage that a journey of thousand miles always begins with a single step.

As a teacher she proved to be best counsellor for her students, she mostly taught delinquent children and reaffirmed unpunctuated faith in them, she treated them with love and feeling of belongingness and they were transformed into most disciplined students.

It was a big relief for their parents who were looking as mute spectators about waywardness of their children. They discovered an angel in this old lady. When a person intends to work hard Almighty Allah opens the doors of mercy for him/her from all the sides. One day this old lady had come to Dargah Hazratbal to have a glimpse of the relic of Holy Prophet (PBUH). It was late hours and it was raining heavily. The old lady was waiting for the bus, she was carrying baby food in one hand and a walking stick in another hand. She was drenched in rain water.

Coordinator Education in Distance Education Dr Showkat offered her a lift. In a brief chat the lady narrated her ordeal to the Coordinator.  The lady told the Coordinator that her daughter is MSc Physics with BEd. At that time Directorate of Distance Education University of Kashmir was offering one  year MEd programme offered through Kashmir and Jammu Chapter. As per her merit Iqra was selected for Jammu Chapter.

The Coordinator suggested her that girl should enroll for MEd programme, meanwhile being Post Graduate in Education with BEd the old lady was engaged as a resource person for teaching BEd contact classes for which she received a handsome remuneration.

Dr Showkat facilitated the issuance of notification in which retired experienced hands were given significant visibility in various assignments of the Directorate. This was done with the twin objective to support them financially and cater to their mental health. The old lady did not stop here she collected money by taking home tuitions, teaching BEd classes for the surgery of her grand-daughter.

Through cosmetic surgery the deformity correction was done and the child, that was a big relief for her mother-daughter duo. Iqra pursued her MEd studies diligently. One day sitting with her grand-daughter Mymoona opened the old trunk, she had preserved the old album, progress card of elementary years of Iqra at school, her laminated school prize certificates in it.

Iqra who was sitting nearby tears started rolling down her face. Prayers flowed from her heart for her mother with angelic dispositions. Iqra had to attend contact classes at Luthra College of Education Jammu. As most people ask for concession for their children enrolled in Distance Education, the Coordinator offered help to Mymoona being counsellor but she declined.

She valued education and travelled to Jammu along with her daughter and her child, she did not ask for any type of   concession/relaxation in contact classes. She stayed there for twenty working days while Iqra was attending contact classes

Mymoona used to hold her grand-daughter in her lap, feeding her outside the contact centre till classes were over. Iqra relieved her childhood experiences when as a child her mother would run after her with a glass of milk and bread before she left for school.

The umbilical connectivity between the mother and child is divinely threaded and weaved. Iqra worked hard; enrolled her child in a good pre primary school , qualified UGC-NET in the subject of Education, a long cherished dream  of her mother. She appeared in a 10+2 screening test for the post of Education conducted by the Public Service Commission and qualified it. In conclusion this story has many lessons to offer.

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts It validates the Quranic verse which says that “So, Verily, With Every Difficulty, there is Relief’’ is the 5th verse from Surah al-Inshirah, the 94th Surah of the Quran. It is one of the most beautiful and amazing verses in the Quran. This verse gives a message of hope and encouragement.

(Note: All names may not be real)

Dr Showkat Rashid Wani is a Senior Coordinator, Directorate of Distance Education, University of Kashmir

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