Dreams to Live


Despite tragedies knocking at her door at regular intervals she didn’t abandon dreaming. Aspiring to become a teacher, this Islamabad girl is torn between managing her family and pursuing a career. Umar Khurshid tells her story

Except for three glass bangles hanging from a nail, the walls of Nighat Jan’s single storey house are bare, black and uneven. Instinctively, Nighat, 21, pointed towards a raised platform on the corner and says, “That’s where I use to study, can’t forget those memories.”

Born to a PHE employee father and a household mother, Nighat, the third child among four sisters and two brothers, harbours a dream: I want to study and become a teacher.

But every time she hopes to have found a way-out to realize her dream, tragedies knock at her door. The first one was when her father was diagnosed with a serious kidney ailment. “We were told to take him to Chandigarh for treatment,” recalls Nighat.

The question was who will accompany him to the “alien land” outside Kashmir? “My sisters are already married, and my brothers are too young,” said Nighat. “So it was me who had to accompany my father.”

Nighat remember her first morning in Chandigarh vividly. “I was overwhelmed by the size of the city. Everybody was in hurry. This place was very much unlike Kashmir,” said Nighat.

But Nighat managed everything from admitting her father in the hospital to arranging a room for their long stay.

“For next eight months Chandigarh became my home,” said Nighat. “But I had to stay there at the cost of my studies.”

Every morning Nighat would go out and buy essentials from the nearby market. “I recall how I once lost my way back to room. I was terrified. It is completely different from what you experience in Kashmir. You cannot rely on strangers as you can in Kashmir,” said Nighat.

Once back home Nighat decided to pursue bachelors in arts from Women’s Degree College, Islamabad. However, before she could get an admission, her mother was diagnosed with renal insufficiency. She died within three months of diagnosis. “I wasn’t able to understand what is going on with me, I started crying and thinking about my career and family,” recalls Nighat

After her mother’s death, Nighat busied herself with the family affairs. “Somebody had to take care of the family as my father was already ill,” said Nighat.

Apart from domestic issues Nighat was facing another crisis: how to feed her family?

A casual labourer in Public Health Engineering Department, Nighat’s father struggles to manage his medicinal expenses. “He gets half pay now,” said Nighat. “Before his illness he used to do sanitary work in his free time. Now he cannot do that as he is bed ridden.”

A few months after her mother’s death Nighat’s younger brother Sajad Ahmad, 18, met with an accident and broke his leg. “He is not able to walk till date,” said Nighat. “My youngest brother Ishfaq is not mature enough to earn.”

The biggest dilemma Nighat faces now is how to balance between her domestic callings and her passion for studies.

“I cannot help but feel unlucky when I see my classmates planning their future,” said Nighat.

Last year she tried to complete her graduation through distance course from IGNOU, but it proved quite hectic.

“I want to study, become a teacher, and go places. But I don’t know if I can ever realize my dreams,” said Nighat with a hint of tears in her eyes. “But I cannot abandon my family either for sake of my career.”

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