She was a happy go lucky girl, her positivity radiated in the beautiful smile on her face. The smile reached her eyes, which spoke volumes about the way she lived, the ray of sunshine in other people’s lives.
Her father used to be away for months as part of his job, and her mother was a selfless soul. She was the eldest bahu of the family, and she lived up to her status, always doing something or the other for her 3 daughters and others around her, her time, her companionship, her love all reserved for the members of her family.
The little girl was 12 when tragedy struck and life thrust her into adulthood, too soon and too quickly. She still remembered the azan for Asar had been called and her mother was praying.
There was a crash, the bullet had flown in through the window, crushing the window panes and her innocent little soul into tiny fragments.
The bullet had hit her mother. They rushed her to the hospital. She lost the battle to the clutching hands of death in the ambulance.
They found out later that political unrest had been the cause of that careless open of fire, without any thought about the life of civilians living in the premises nearby. She had lost her mother, her beautiful mother, who had cherished her daughters and given them all the protection and love that her arms had to offer. What kept her strong and gave her comfort was the high status of martyrdom that her mother had achieved.
Sumra clung to her paternal grandmother in the initial days when the pain seemed too hard to bear, the cold nights bereft of a mother’s warm arms, the touch of a loving hand absent in the days that followed.
Life went on, as it always does. She developed a closer bond with her father, the absence of her mother drawing them together in their pain and sorrow. Her father tried to give his daughters the love of both parents combined, and assured them that he had their back.
But life had yet another jolt coming. When she was just 16, her father remarried, to her own khala (Maternal aunt). The little girl hoped that she would take the place of her own mother, whom she had loved so dearly and lost so tragically.
Alas, the khala was anything but a mother. The negative aura which surrounded her turned their house into a bitter playground, where sides were taken and hearts were broken. Misunderstandings arose, and Sumra was more alone than ever.
Sumra now set out to earn her own way in life, dependence on others was not her cup of tea. She became a personal banking officer in a prestigious bank, funding her own studies. Her professional life was not free from worries either.
She had bosses who were fairly supportive, and since her hard work and dedication had earned her the title of “tiger of the team”, jealousies and rivalry amongst her colleagues was very high.
The rivalry against her rose to such an extent that she had to switch to another branch, where the manager maliciously had her desk removed. Sumra was grieved, but her determination increased. She was focused on her work and was determined that nothing would deter her from her path.
More complications followed, which led to her changing branches again, she switched to two different branches in the coming years. The late hours made it difficult to commute to and from work, especially with the political conditions Karachi was in, at that time.
Tired of being treated like a rolling ball from one branch to the other, Sumra finally gave up and resigned in 2014. Her resignation was accepted very reluctantly since she had always been a star performer wherever she went. Karma soon followed though, and the very people who had planned and plotted against her were soon in very straitened circumstances themselves, having been unceremoniously asked to resign themselves.
Back at home, Sumra was in a dilemma. Her family wanted her to get married and the guy they had chosen seemed shady. She was a strong and educated woman, having done her B. Com by then, she was also in the process of giving her CIMA papers. But her perspective fiancé was not a good match.
For her father’s happiness, Sumra agreed and they got engaged. Her nikkah was fixed soon after, but Sumra had begun to see major red flags. Her fiancé was greedy and mercenary, plus he was too persistent upon some things he absolutely wanted to be done in his own way, and the overall situation seemed out of control.
Sumra turned to her older sisters and her father, trying to convince them to call off this engagement before it was too late. Her father refused to listen, under the influence of her stepmother and in his delusion that things would turn out fine once she actually got married.
Now in despair, Sumra went to her chacha and her chachis (paternal Uncle and Aunts). The troubles in her relationship seemed very evident to them too. Together, they convinced her father to break off this engagement.
Situations at home became very strained, with her father not talking to her and her stepmother adding fuel to the fire. Sumra refused to sink under these turbulent waves, holding fast to her heart. She was a strong woman, Allah had given her courage and she firmly believed that she was the only one who could turn her life around, the way SHE wanted it to be.
She set out to be financially independent again, one of her biggest talents was the way she could deal with people. She had empathy, kindness and could be a rock to lean upon when the people around her needed her to be. Her own troubles had shaped her into a very positive woman, she had a lot to give.
She realized that when she could work for other people so well, she could build up her own setup. For a few months, she started off with a thorough learning process from a content development company, where she learnt the ropes of freelancing. She discovered that she had the talent of acquiring work and bidding very successfully on projects, which she would then delegate to other freelancers, according to their respective fields.
A chance post of hers on a random group made her realize how much women in Pakistan needed work and financial independence. She set out to acquire as many projects as she could, providing all sorts of freelance work to as many people as she could. Thus, she became a bridge between people who needed work, using her skill in the best way she could. Slowly, from being a singlehanded freelancer, she acquired a successful team and went on to earn a six-figure income. Her motivation increased with every project, and to date, Sumra is a very successful freelancer.
Today, Sumra is happy, successful and very independent. By sheer will power and her positive approach, she has made peace with herself and her family. Love is present again, though marred with a few bitter tinges of the past that is how it is with life. You can’t taste the sweetness of the fruit without biting into the tartness too.