After finishing medical school, Gazalla Noor preferred her experimentation in the fields over teaching antonym in the classroom. In her 59 years of life, the energetic businesswoman wore many hats and left indelible impressions of her successes, writes Tasavur Mushtaq
April, every year had a Facebook post from a lady paying tributes to her father on his death anniversary; seeking blessings for his soul; writing about his life and times. It was a routine. However, this year April had a change. The virtual wall remained the same. Praises persisted. Citations continued. Qualities quantified. But, ownership of the wall altered. An admirer of erstwhile years is no more. The daughter who personified her father passed away on the last day of April, peacefully.
Always responsive and responsible in social spaces, news of her death, as it turned out to be was broken on her Facebook wall, “Long Live The Queen”, and the “Queen” was Dr Gazalla Noor. She was Noor, the light of many lives.
Known as Baaji, she had qualities of both head and heart. Gustily graceful. Charismatically confident. Diligently dependable. Energetically efficient. Socially sensitive. Passionately Philanthropist. Culturally conscious. Financially free. She wore many hats in a short span of 59 years, successfully.
Born to an affluent family in Asham-Sumbal in the Sonawari area of Bandipora, her love for nature never left her. As a child, among six siblings, she enjoyed a connection with the ecosystem. Vast paddy fields, roaming cattle, orchards and sprawling plantations sounded serene to her young mind. She did her schooling from Srinagar’s Presentation Convent, but her convenience was in cultivation.
As medicine dominated the choice of parents for decades in Kashmir, the same happened here as well. Her bureaucrat father, who later retired as Chief Secretary and homemaker mother, both wanted her to study medicine. Finally, she landed in Government Medical College, Srinagar to pursue the dream of her parents. In between, the marriage took place.
Post marriage, after completing her degree, she did a house job in chest medicine and later taught anatomy for a few years and quit. But her heart continued its journey with the aroma of flowers.
No matter what, life has its own way. Her passion and profession were halted. The family became the priority. Given the nature of business her husband, Mohammad Amin was, a “carpet exporter”, and travel was a frequent and permanent feature. However, cultivation continued to enthral her, silently.
Back to Fields
Life moved on. Almost two decades later, when the situation at home eased out, she decided to start afresh. The degree did not receive attention. However, fields and fragrance was the sustained choice. Being affluent at home made her task easy with huge land at her disposal. She started cultivating Lavender, a medicinal and aromatic plant. There was no looking back. The kitty added many other varieties including Rose, Rose scented Geranium and Rosemary with an oil distillation plant on the farm as well.
The final product of aromatic extracts was sold in small bottles under the brand name Pure Aroma. Starting with a few lakh of rupees, the turnover took a leap to a crore in a few years. Her passion evolved into her profession, successfully.
The response was encouraging. The idea traversed the boundaries and reached from North to South Kashmir. She had the privilege of having the first farm in association with the Regional Research Laboratory in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Her passion to try different ideas with soil continued and she reached Tangmarg to grow aromatic and medicinal plants. She even had her hand in high density (intensive) farming when she planted peach and grapes in Asham. The concept was not viral those days.
Having a smooth journey after initial difficulties at an individual level, Gazalla gazed to intervene at the societal level. Traditionally male-dominated, the business grid got its first female office-bearer after 80 years of its establishment. She joined the election fray, got elected and became the first woman to hold the post of Secretary-General and Treasurer of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Besides business, her role moved beyond trade and turnover. She took centre stage in both inspiring women and influencing Agri-Business in Kashmir. Her concept majorly revolved around women supporting women.
Sticking to her belief system, personally, professionally and politically, she gave space to sit and discuss. Strongly opinionated, the best about her worst was that she did not cross the line.
Diagnosed with the dreaded disease almost five years ago, she did not let the enthusiasm wane. Her first defence against the disease was to share details on social media. During the course of treatment, she managed her life and liberties and shared her experiences. And once, floated the idea of having specialist Cancer care hospital in Kashmir and even started a campaign. Whatever she did, it was always inclusive.
In health, she pursued people to follow their dreams and in disease, she thought to have a hospital for everyone. That was the beauty about being Gazalla.
Vibrant on social media with issues, instances and interesting anecdotes, her last Facebook post came on April 2, when Ramzan began this year. It was about seeking prayers for health and relief from the pain.
She had grown weak, but not gloomy. Her smile and sentiment never left her. She fought issues in life and life issues valiantly and put a brave face on disease which breaks bonds.
As she was flown from Delhi to Kashmir, her life and journey were celebrated as a thing of positivity. Leading by example, she practised what she preached and exceeded expectations. She had touched lives lovingly. She was someone who seeded seeds of success in society, only to be sown for all years to come. Gazalla, rest in peace.