Days passed by and I started to realise the purpose of my life.

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                 YOU CAN’T EVEn!!

So…When I sat down in front of my screen to type, a lot of things and ideas were running through my mind. I didn’t want to write something that people would read and forget in fact I intended to write something that would stick in your heads for a long period of time and something you all can learn from and relate to at some point in your lives. Before you start reading, let me tell you something. You will need to be patient to continue because what you are about to read is someone’s real life story. Something someone has gone through and has managed to grow with. The title I have chosen is “you can’t even…” Now any woman who is reading this and was born in a desi family must have heard this sentence, maybe not for herself but may be in the society.

When I was 13, young and energetic, always out there in the basketball field, the fastest runner of the school. I decided I’ll go in Olympics… I mean why not?? So I shared my wish with my family. First, they laughed… Followed by “Are you out of your mind, you are a girl! You can’t even go out without your abaya, how will you go in Olympics.?? Go get some sleep Sarah” and with heavy heart and tears in my eyes I went to my room and cried myself to sleep.

When I was 15 I wanted to go places, achieve big things, had big dreams and aspirations… I wanted to be a successful business woman just like my brothers and my dad… I grew up watching them being successful, self-made and amazing at their work. But I was told I’m a girl “you can’t even properly take care of yourself” I fought and fought but finally had to surrender. Yes…!! I gave up on my dreams because I thought maybe they are right… I can’t even take care of myself.

When I was 17 I decided I’d try my luck with my family again… I would go to America for MBA. So I took TOEFL and passed it with really good scores but then again my dreams were crushed… I was told “why do you even want to study; you can’t even work in this field… Your job is to cook and take care of husband and kids after Marriage”

When I heard this nonsense I gave my family an example of one of our aunt who lost her husband a year ago but she was educated enough to take care of her three daughters and one son all by herself. She is a widow but she is educated enough not to beg for money and she is doing everything on her own for her kids… But I was again discouraged… They all said…. It was her destiny but you will be fine… Don’t worry.

Years passed by and I graduated… Well, I studied English literature but I always felt incomplete because I didn’t even know why I’m studying something that is of no use… I had no clear vision in my head anymore… And then that one day… The big dreadful day arrived…. I had to tie the knot with a man I hardly knew…

Days… weeks and a year passed by… I never had a day when I felt complete, I was still perplexed about my existence in this universe. What was my purpose? Why am I here? What am I supposed to do to fill in the blank space in my heart? And then I got pregnant. I was happy but I still felt there is something missing. I always thought I can’t even take care of myself, how on earth am I going to take care of this baby… Those words kept echoing in my mind.

This universe works in a weird way. You know when people say unexpected things occur randomly and then you are left totally perplexed as to what just happened…?

Well, My daughter was only nine months old and my doorbell rang, I was at my mum’s house… My brother and his wife entered but they looked worried… I tried to read their expressions but I was unable to… Then I heard my brother saying “Sarah I’m sorry but your husband passed away in an accident” imagine hearing these words when you are holding a baby in your hands and you feel like… May be I have heard something wrong… I asked them to repeat what they said and they did… And the only thing that came out of my mouth was. How can this happen? How can he die? I can’t even take care of myself how will I take care of my baby now… all by myself? My journey from my house to the morgue in Madina was the longest ride ever… I kept hoping I would go in and it would be someone else… May be it’s a mistake… May be they have made some mistake and it’s not him. This is Bizarre and impossible. He was on the phone just a few hours ago… My journey from the car to the morgue room was impossible to cover… I entered with heavy steps, dry mouth and blurred vision, tears rolling down my cheeks. The sun seemed brighter than usual. The whole atmosphere was torturous. I saw my family crying but all I could hear was a strong buzz in my ears. I saw their lips moving but I was unable to hear or understand their words. After they opened the door and after what I saw, I was unable to stand or utter any word. I fainted and I had no idea where my daughter was… I gained consciousness after a few hours and I looked at my Lil Angel… And the words echoed again… I can’t even do anything for her… How will we survive now…!

Days passed by and I started to realise the purpose of my life.

Finally!!! I found my purpose… A reason to live… A reason to breath… My purpose was to bring up a child on my own regardless of what I had studied…regardless of what my current status was… All I knew was… Now I can’t even think that I can’t even do anything in my life.!

Although I belong to a well-off family, I didn’t want my child to be taken care off by anyone else. I didn’t want my child to feel like she has to return the favours to her uncles when she grows up. I started to teach kids at home and with that money I started my studies again… I got a decent Job in a year Alhamdulillah and I started to tell myself every day…maybe I can’t even take care of myself but I can definitely take care of my kid

People try to pull me down even now. People try to judge me by my appearance and people also talk behind my back but am I letting all this negativity affect me and my work?? NO!!!

I have been a very private person and I never shared my experience with anyone before, but I thought it’s about time… There are so many other women in the world who let people and their negativity affect their lives. Please stop this nonsense and do what you feel is right. Yes, listen to everyone but follow your heart.

Today… I am a CELTA certified English Instructor, certified IELTS instructor, Cambridge examiner for English and Urdu. I took professional development courses form Harvard and Cambridge University and I just finished my PGCE. No, I’m not bragging. I want every woman out there to know that you all are strong and you all have the ability to achieve anything in the world and you know who do I thank now???? I thank everyone of them who said no to me… who said “You can’t even” to me… All those people made me push my limits and made me achieve everything I have achieved at this stage…now I don’t feel incomplete but I do think I have a long way to go even now… I haven’t   achieved even half of my goals … I have a long way to go until I can say… Yes…!!! I have touched the sky. Every day I try to learn new things, I try to grow, I read and I try to pass on my knowledge to everyone I know… Teaching is my passion now. At this stage, I thank my family who made me choose English literature… I was born to be a teacher. Someone who can bring changes and change the lives of her students and make them believe in themselves.

    Well, of course, I couldn’t go to Olympics but guess what? THIS IS my Olympics…!! My life!!

My race against the evil forces who try to bring me down. My race against the hurdles and the boundaries. That smile on my daughter’s face and the smile I try to bring on the people around me is my trophy… Today I aspire to be the best teacher and the best mother I can be and so can you…!!!! 

An ordinary woman

Sarah Al-Luqman



Pictures and article edited by Humera Chowdhry

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