I have two sheros; my grandmother and my mother. My grandmother was born in colonial India. She was an educated and an enlightened woman. She and I spent a lot of time together and I worshipped the ground she walked on. I used to love listening to her when she talked about her life as a young girl and about the time Pakistan was created. She had lived history and brought the past to life for me. I have studied history of the partition of India but what I gained from listening to her is something no book could have given me.
I saw how she was with her sons and daughters, her grandsons and her granddaughters and can honestly say I saw no difference in the way she treated them. Unlike many of her generation, she would expect the same standard of behaviour from boys and girls. She embodied equality and equity.
My mother, being the daughter of my grandmother, is the same. She went to university and did her Masters. Like her mother, she has always treated us fairly. Hand on heart I can say that my sister and I were bought up and treated just like our brother was. My brother wanted to go to USA to study Engineering and she and my father supported him in doing so. I wanted to go to England for my higher studies and again she and my father supported me. There weren’t many Asian women in the 1990s who would allow their Muslim daughter to go abroad by herself but my mother did. My mother, like her mother before her, values education and did all she could do to encourage us to follow our dreams.
People talk about generation gaps but I have not experienced it. My grandmother and I enjoyed each other’s company. She suffered from arthritis and used to prefer to stay at home. I used to stay with her when the rest of the family went out, not because it was expected of me but because I wanted to and could think of nothing better than to spend time at home with her and have her all to myself! My mother and I too have not experienced the generation gap. She lives in Pakistan but we talk almost every day and talk for hours! She is now a grandmother herself and like my grandmother, she too is loved by all her grandchildren. My daughters love visiting her and spending time with her like I used to with my grandmother. My mother is now a hero for my daughters (they actually said this to me the other day).
If I can be half the woman my grandmother was and my mother is, I’d be the luckiest woman on earth! Thank you Ammijee and Mummy for being the best role models I could have wished for. Thank you, Jill, for encouraging me to write this. You, too, are a shero!