Today is the International Women’s Day and I cannot let it pass without mentioning my mother Fatima Qureshy. She was born in the Princely state of Hyderabad Deccan to a well to do family. Her father was a high ranking official in the Nizam’s Government. But when the 1971 war happened, all was lost and our family was uprooted; we became refugees. My family spent 2 years as civilian POWs in a caged barbed-wired camp in India. We lived on a six-by-eight piece of hard cement floor and there was barely enough food to go around.
But my mother continued to put up a brave face for us and nurtured as even in those difficult circumstances. She taught us English, Urdu and basic mathematics tables to us and every day emphasized to us the importance of education. Ammi was the bedrock of our family and our source of strength during those two years. She was so brave she could even stand up to the Indian Military commander Harnam Singh. With her around, I wasn’t afraid of the big, gun-toting Indian soldiers.
After our release from the camps she continued to encourage us to get higher education and ensured that all her children received the highest level of education.To read more about this strong woman please read my The Boy refugee: A Memoir from a Long-Forgotten War.