This post is in continuation of the blog I wrote celebrating Women’s Day. To read the remaining stories of ten miraculous inspirational women, click here.
Stories of bravery, endurance, and of courage in the face of adversity, aren’t always wrapped in glamorous packages; they aren’t always available as a Netflix original series, or a New York Times bestseller. Some of the most inspirational stories are just there around you, if you choose to look & listen. Hina is my cousin and therefore I admit that there is a bias in the admiration with which I look at her and her life. But I will let you guys be the judge of that. Hers was a case where it was important to look at more than just the past decade. So, when I asked her to share a list of her achievements during the past ten years, I received not a list but a tale. And to do justice to this tale, I want you guys to read it in her words, not mine!
This is Hina’s story in her own words:
When you asked me to write about my achievements, it took me several days to think what I should mention as achievement, something that signifies I have accomplished something; yet I feel I haven’t accomplished anything in my life. You mentioned a few things that in your opinion were worth mentioning so here it goes:
Sometimes I feel I have had a hard life as a kid and had to deal with things that a kid of my age should not have been made to deal with. However, maybe it was Allah’s plan for me. Dealing with those things made me mature at a young age and I started to feel I have to grow up early and I’ll be able to do something to help my family, and that’s exactly what I did.
Though I was a good student, I could have achieved a higher degree and that would have been something to mention in my list of achievements today but instead I had to give up my studies after graduation in order to financially support my family.
I joined Pakistan International Airlines and worked as “Cabin Crew” for eleven years. Does this count for an achievement? Nahh, I do not think so. I left the job in 2012 when my elder brother gave the idea that I supported the family enough and now it is his turn. I gladly left the job where I was a misfit from day one but still, I was not only at the top of my crew but also one of the very few members of the cabin crew who were licensed for only Wide Body aircrafts. Yes, I will call this an achievement! I have always been good at doing my best in the worst possible circumstances.
A year of unemployment and I felt I am the most useless person on the face of this earth!
In 2013, my younger brother had a life-threatening accident and had to undergo sixteen surgeries over a course of two years. This caused major financial crises and being job less I felt so down that at this time of need I am unable to help my family. All my savings went into my brother’s treatment and the surgeries and I mentally bashed myself every day for quitting a job which could have help support my brother’s medical needs. When I look back at that time, I am surprised at myself, astounded at how I managed to cope with that situation for two years; how I stayed mentally stable without any help, any support from any friend or relative, but somehow, I did. I guess when Allah gives you crises to face, He also gives you the strength to bear it, and so I did. I would call it my second achievement or my biggest one, I am unsure. However, it showed me that I am a survivor, and I can bear more than I think I can.
As my brother was in recovering phase, I started looking for a job. Turns out no one wants to hire me. I had more than 10 years of sky-high experience that was not valid on the ground for a woman of my age.
An acquaintance guided me to a sales head job of a designer studio and the company only hired me because I agreed to work on a meager salary. “You can’t give up!” were the words I told myself each day as I pulled myself through this new domain. I was not happy with the less-than-nothing salary and was hoping that the management might re-consider, but a fellow colleague guided me not to ask for a raise and instead advised me to build my case slowly, to learn, to develop myself and prove to the company that I am worth investing in. I paid heed to this advice and made my mind to learn more about this new world of clothing. My job at PIA developed a tireless work ethic in me and I worked day in and day out to excel in this new job that I knew nothing about. A year went by and I was offered a better job with a better salary at a renowned brand. This job was concentrated in an online department, so I polished my online skills, which I learnt a few bits about from my previous job. It turned out I was good at it! This helped me finish my tasks quickly and I began helping the production unit to increase my knowledge about the materials and making of luxury clothing. A year went by and the same acquaintance who helped me land the previous job asked me to sit for an interview with the brand, Maria B. I went for the interview and was hyperventilating by the time I saw the girl’s already sitting in line waiting for their turn – evidently much younger and much more qualified than me. “Why did I came? What do I have to offer this company?” These questions kept up a series of nauseating rounds within my head and felt like an idiot for coming there, expecting to be hired. I was called in after two hours of wait and to my surprise, Maria B herself interviewed me. I was emailed the offer letter for Maria B Bridal Consultant a couple of days later.
Having to quit a highly paid job and then starting from scratch to land at the place I am today, the ride has been brutal; people see me as nonchalant and envision I have had it easy, but my journey was not.
I was always fascinated by arts and drawings. I took a fine arts aptitude test in my Inter but the class was overcrowded already so I was not given the permission to be a part of it though I passed the test. It was heart breaking for me. Fast forward fifteen years and I am a part of one of the biggest clothing brands of Pakistan working as a Bridal HOD, doing client meetings, online consultations, supervising production of luxury clothing, handling in-store and e-store tasks and sales, all in all utilizing all the skills I picked from all my previous jobs.
I once read somewhere “Relax, you are exactly where you meant to be”. Was it that Allah was preparing me to sit on this seat? Granted I took a few detours, but I feel that today I am doing exactly what I would have been doing, if I had been allowed to take Fine Arts as a subject. I wholeheartedly believe that today I am exactly where I am meant to be.
Today I am again supporting my family, a fact I am proud of. Allah chose me for this purpose, and I am happy to do my part. I look after my parents and try my best to keep them happy, may be give them something they can be proud off. I know I didn’t turn out to be the best daughter or someone their parents can boast about, but I am glad I make both ends meet and I am able to do it on my own.
I have been striving to build a house for my parents and Inshallah I will accomplish that soon and that will be the biggest achievement of my life.
I’ll end with a prayer: May Allah give everyone a second chance to excel in life. Ameen!