Monday, March 29, 2010

Rendezvous With Dr. Afia's Mother

I feel very scared when I write this down. There is a whole war going on as I struggle to decide what I should do and what I should not. I feel so sleepy yet I can’t sleep. All this conflict is just killing me so better out than in.

Well, today I got to meet probably the bravest mother in the world; Dr. Afia Siddiqui’s mother.

The meeting stirred so many emotions in me sympathy, shock, utmost sadness, helplessness yet hope, optimism and faith intermingled with fear, hesitance and scepticism that it has caused this unrest in me that isn’t letting me sleep so I think it’s the best time to put this into black and white. And now that it is all fresh, it will be my most honest version of the thoughts that got triggered after my meeting with this brave woman.

Firstly and most importantly, Mrs. Siddiqui, Dr. Afia’s mother is the most optimistic person I have ever seen in my life. She is the mother of a woman who lives in the most inhumane circumstances unimaginable to a common man.

Her mother tells us that Dr. Afia is currently kept in a 6 foot by 6 foot ‘cage’ which contains her lavatory as well and is watched by a ‘soldier’ 24/7. Her teeth are broken by now by the beatings she gets by the ‘butts’ of guns regularly and that all her skin is covered in pus-and-blood-leaking wounds. Her brother upon visiting her once and seeing her suffering condition got a heart attack and recovered from the shock after three months. Yet, this brave mother passionately and inspiringly speaks of hope, of a day when her daughter will come back to her house and knock at the gate. She says this with her head held high. We are awed at her optimism, her strong-heartedness and her determination.

Then we see the other side as well. We hear a mother talking about her youngest child Afia who was the dearest and most pampered among all her siblings ; a girl whose wealthy father got dressing material especially from Egypt that wouldn’t feel prickly on her tender skin ; a girl who grew into a academically genius student as well as a religious person who could promptly quote from the Quran and Ahadees. We hear her talk about a young Afia who did humanitarian work even in the US. And as she recalls the younger Afia this mother’s heart breaks and tears leak in front of the audience she talks to. She says that she indeed believes that her dear Afia will come back home to her but the thought of what horrible things are being done to her daughter right now … I just can’t put into words, sorry.

Putting this down here, feels horribly terrible to say the least. It makes me relive what Mrs. Siddiqi talked about. My heart bleeds right now as I uncontrollably weep imagining a woman being savagely tortured almost to death in a far off country away from her family in a cold cell.

Then perhaps the strongest thing after faith in Allah, that induces hope in me are the words of Dr. Afia’s mother.

‘Dekh layna jab woh ayaygi...’

(You will see, when she will come…)

I had written this the very night I came back from Dr. Afia’s mother’s residence on March 25, 2010. For those who don’t know, the Iqra Society at IBA had conducted a Guest Speaker Session with Miss Mariam Ridley who raised her voice about Dr. Afia. The session was attended by over 200 people at an announcement just a few hours prior to the event. Dr. Afia’s sister, Dr. Fauzia, kind as she is, invited the organizers of the event at dinner at her and her mother’s place as a token of appreciation for whatever little bit we contributed to the cause.