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Glimpses into the life of a social worker and homemaker

The lady I am writing about was a silent social worker and an ardent homemaker. She was a graduate in social science who was married to a civil servant in the Pakistan era. While her husband rose to the highest level of bureaucracy, the power, prestige, and privileges that came along with it had no bearing on her as she remained the same simple, humble, unpretentious person.

Being a mother of two sons and living in an era where not many women were encouraged to have a career, she found meaning in doing things that would make others happy. From something as simple as remembering birthdays and pleasantly surprising people with handwritten personal notes, flowers, and gifts, to raising funds to buy blankets for the poor shivering on the footpaths during the winter, she touched lives and healed hearts. When others gave her gifts on her birthday, she would say with a smile, "I have enough sarees and clothes, give me money to buy for those who don't have any." She then used it to buy essentials for those who have no birthdays to celebrate.

She spent a significant portion of her life in the once heavenly neighborhood of Ispahani Colony. The greenery and tranquility of the colony seamlessly blended with the personality of the lady who was equally soft and kind. The gentle breeze that traversed the landscape of this hidden treasure of an otherwise noisy and cluttered Dhaka found abode in the soul of a lady who was the wind beneath the wings for many. The poor children of the neighbourhood attended the school she had set up in the backyard of her home. During Ramadan, hundreds thronged into her house for zakat.

Not having a career, and with her husband being an honest civil servant with a fixed income, she did not have much resources of her own. However, what she had, many with manifold resources did not – her endless compassion for the needy, her relentless pursuit to mobilise resources for the penniless, her ability to inspire the spirit of giving in others, and her unyielding commitment to "do something" for those who had none to look after them.

In one such instance, there was a school in Rangpur run by a grandfatherly figure (in Bangla it is called "Nana-Natir school"). The Bangla daily Prohom Alo carried a feature on this school which was attended by those who could not afford to go to school and classes were held under the shade of a mango tree. Having read this, she contacted Prothom Alo and started mobilising funds for them to have a proper classroom. Her wish was fulfilled and a tin-shed room was constructed. Now, every year, textbooks are provided free of cost and during Qurbani Eid, cows are sacrificed there so that poor people can eat meat at least once a year. Inspired by her deeds, I initiated a scholarship programme in Dhaka University for needy students.

In another instance, there was this man with an amputated leg to whom she gave money to start a tea stall. The man not only ended up having a livelihood, but also successfully raised three children, all of whom today are self-reliant. Then there was a poor woman suffering from cancer, a widow with no family support, an orphan with no money to go to school – the list goes on, as did her tireless efforts to put smiles on people's faces. She may not have had the endowment of a queen, but she had the indomitable will to support those who had none to look after them.

Within the circles of family and friends, she was much adored and loved for the same qualities. She treated people for who they were and not for their social status or material belongings. Her in-laws' family loved and respected her no less, if not more, than her own family and relatives. Being a great cook, she generously distributed whatever came out of her kitchen. To my friends, she was the much beloved "Chachi" as she befriended them irrespective of their age. Her home was a popular social junction where love, affection, and food were plenty for friends and family.

In the end, she was a simple and pious lady with basic demands from life – to love and be loved, to give and be happy, to heal wounds and feel blessed, and be empowered by the divine blessings of the Creator, who decided on September 2, 2022 that it was time for her to rest under His kind shadow.

The lady is Ms Najma Khasru, who I have been privileged to have had as my mother and who left many footprints to follow. As she watches and smiles from the heavens above, I can hardly be grateful to the Almighty for having unleashed me into this world from the womb of the most sacred of places a soul could have yearned for. May she rest in eternal peace till God is kind enough to unite the son with the mother above the skies.



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