Thursday, February 19, 2009

My mother's education and career

My mother rarely went to school. Not because she did not want to, but because she was needed at home for household chores. And at that time, in the village, even to be enrolled in a school for a girl was a big achievement. So she was content with the arrangement. And she went (or was sent) to school on occasions make sure that her name is not struck off or to take the exams. Her father, a literate man and also a teacher helped her out sometimes at home. She was bright and very interested in whatever she was learning, so despite the irregularities and mostly relying on reading the books on her own, she was able to finish high school and get enrolled in college in Comilla. She was seventeen around that time. About the same time her family thought she is getting too old to get married, and hence a marriage was arranged and she was married off. Of course the marriage did not involve her consent. She had not even seen a picture of her would be husband. Her husband, my father was working in the West Pakistan and he left after the wedding, and my mother was able to continue with her college. Afterwards she moved with him to West Pakistan. She wanted to become a mother but for some reason she was unable to conceive for a while, so she felt she is wasting time at home and was suggested by a family friend to teach in a school. She was the first women in her family to do any work outside her home! She started working, but at the same time she continued reading course work material for bachelors exam. She took the exams just before I was born, but she was unable to pass English (a large majority of students in Pakistan fail in English subject in the BA exams). But then, she had me and there were no role models for her to push towards the value of higher education. She never tried to complete her degree, thinking that her job is only to pass time (not a career) and she is responsibility of her husband. Not her fault. That is how most women think in our country even now a days. So, her education and career both were incidental, not necessary. But, when she became a widow at the age of 31, with 3 kids, no savings or property, and not very helpful in-laws, she realized that whatever job she started as a time pass, is now the only way to survive, but a yolk on her neck which could not take off even when she was dying!!!

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