The illiterate Widow

I have not written on my blogs for a few weeks now, that’s cos I was busy sorting out some major changes in our lives. I have decided to put on hold ‘the changes’ for my next blog and instead tell you the story of a woman that inspires me a lot (there are a few, but this one is very special to me).
I was all set to write down the story until I happened to read a blog shared on facebook by one of my friends. It was an amazing story which I hope Inshallah I get the chance to read more about. Rather than telling you what it is about. I am just posting the link to it and hope you enjoy it and understand what this amazing one is trying to convey and in the future where we see such an issue arising we take the right step Inshallah.
Moving on, I am about to tell you the story of a woman who had a major role in my being here. This is the story of my Grandmother.
My grandmother was born in a small island, the 1st generation of her family to be born then after her grandparents moved there from what used to be British India. She was born into a family who spoke very little of the local dialect and who were mainly field labourers. In those days, people were rarely educated unless they were really well off and girls were to say the least educated if at all. Like most people born in her situation, she never got the chance to go to school and was married at the age of 13(which was considered normal in those days by the standards of society).
Soon after her wedding, she and her husband decided to move to the Big city for a better future. They were both from 2 little villages down south who aspired for a better life for their children. Life proved to be difficult in the city but my grandfather was not doing too bad, he managed to break through the coal industry, which was a new thing in those days. And, business was flourishing and they were actually far better than they thought they would be. Unfortunately, a major accident was going to change everything for this family.
They already had 5 healthy children by the grace of God( there were a few stillborns).  My grandmother who was now 30 had just given birth about 9 months ago to her last baby, a girl ( my mother). She was living a typical housewife life, basically her life revolved inside her house and around her husband and kids. But tragedy was to strike, her husband had a fatal accident right outside their doorsteps and passed away. She was scared, she had never been on her own in her entire life, she was responsible for her 5 little children and there was no one she could turn too. Her family back in the village would not be able to take them in and help them, the only way was to stay in the Big city and make her way through. She did not have time to grieve, she did not have time to mourn, she had 5 stomachs to feed, and she had no clue where to start from.
She realised she does not know anything about the world outside her doorsteps, and she was in no way armed to face it. Her lack of education made it impossible for her to take over her husband’s business and anyway who would deal with an illiterate village woman? They had some savings and some properties my grandfather managed to buy before he died. He used to rent it out so there would be some income coming. But as the end of the month came close, my grandmother realised it was going to be a struggle every month to get rent off the tenants. They knew she was a lonely woman and won’t be able to argue with them and they can easily get away with not paying and this happened far too often. 
With what little money she had, my grandmother decided to get out and face the world. She had never been out on her own anywhere and for the first time, she set off to the market where she has never been before. She needed to buy food for her children and she knew it was all down to her. It may not sound scary to you or me but for her it was adventuring in the wild, in the unknown and she did not know what to expect.
As soon as she stepped inside the market, she was left traumatised. She did not understand what was going on. Why were the men yelling? Why was everyone screaming? Why were people calling out to her? There were men everywhere, thousands of them, staring at her, calling her to come to their table. She could not stand it anymore; she dropped her basket and ran out tears streaming out of her eyes. This was not what she expected and she did not know what to do. She went home empty handed to her children feeling empty, lonely, scared and low.
The next day, she decided she had to do something, she had to be the stronger one, she had to move forward so her children can, that is the reason they came to the city. One thing she was absolutely sure about is she wanted her children all educated, all four girls and one boy. She soon started her own business, people were still conning her cos she did not know how to count, but slowly she learnt and could do her maths pretty well so it was not working anymore. She sent all her children to school, made sure she paid their fees with what little she had. And, today all her kids had made it somewhere, some are running their own businesses, some had have good jobs, some just happen to be housewives. But, one thing she has done and that will continue to be passed on to the next generation is to make sure her children understand the value of education and how it opens so many doors in the world.
Today, she is almost 90. She still works and runs her business fro home. She does not rely on anyone, not even her children to provide for her. She cannot see very well, or hear very well but she is independent. She has passed on the values of education to her children, who in turned passed it on to their children. All if not most of her grandchildren have achieved something in life due to this heritage and they hope to pass it on to their children in turn.
I just want to say I am so proud of her and hope I can be a role model as well for future generations. She has been and is still a woman who defied the norms of societies, who did not backed down and fought a patriarchal society and made sure her daughters were empowered against it. Thank you so much Nani.

May Allah bless her with good health. Ameen.


  1. masha allah, very inspirational lady!

    anna (intheplayroom)

  2. Ameen, truly inspirational.

    It would not have been easy being a woman and alone in those days. Big respect to her.

  3. wow - I loved this true story! I always believe if you truly want to do something then hopefully you will find a way!