A teacher, mentor and beacon of light - Ambreen Asif Qureshi

in story •  last year

“It was December 1984, Faisalabad and I was in my final year of MA English, when I got engaged to a handsome boy from Karachi. Like all other girls, I packed up my books since my marriage was to be in less than 3 months time. My teachers, especially my Dean, tried convincing me to continue with my studies and complete my Masters, but I didn't pay heed.
However, my dean (May Allah bless his soul) didn't give up and on the day of my marriage, he approached my would-be husband and mother-in-law (both complete strangers to him), told them how brilliant a student I was, and pleaded that I may be allowed to give my final exams in June. They both agreed to allow me to continue if I wanted.

I was not aware of all these 'negotiations'. It was only when I went back to meet my parents before proceeding for honeymoon, that my dean came over and reminded my husband of his promise. My husband said he has no objection, in fact he would love it if I completed my studies. I was flabbergasted, but my husband, my dean, my parents, and above all, my mother-in-law convinced me saying 'sirf 2 maheenoon ki tu baat hai". So I reluctantly stayed back, and sat for my final exams in June and immediately afterwards rushed back to Karachi as though if I stayed one day more, my dean may ask me to enroll in MPhil too! I didn't even come back to receive my degree, or write back to him when he wrote to congratulate me on my success. Little did
I know how grateful I would be to him in my later life!

Life was going smoothly- I had a very loving husband, three beautiful kids, supportive in-laws, and a nice, cosy house. I never gave a second thought to my degree, or took up any vocation even though my in-laws were very open minded and most of women in the family were working ladies.

And then July 17 1994 came, when in a spur of moment I lost my husband in an accident. Life came to a stand still! There I was...29 years old, with 3 kids of 7, 5 and 3 years of age- no money in the bank and no source of income. The only consolation was the moral and psychological support of both my families; My own and my in-laws. I had three options: go live with my parents /brothers, live with my in-laws as a dependent or live with my in-laws but fend for myself and the kids. I chose the last one.

It was then that I realized what a blessing in disguise my dean, my mentor, my Mohsin, Prof Sahib had been for me. Had he not insisted on my completing my education I wouldn't have had landed up with a good job. He was a true visionary teacher in all regards. What had he to gain had I not completed my education? He had so many students! The question perplexed me in the beginning until I met him 5 year after my graduation and asked him point blank. He smiled and said: "I have always taken each of my student as an individual, full of possibilities, full of promises...each can play an effective role in making this world better. My role, as a teacher, is to brush and hone their skills. I saw a brilliant teacher in you, an enthusiastic learner, an eager student of Literature so how could I possibly let it go waste?"

These words of his resonated in my mind when I chose which job to take. With him as my role model, I opted for the teaching profession. Though I used to dislike the concept of being a teacher in my student life, it was my professors sheer trust in my abilities that I became an educator and have never regretted it since. Today, after almost 22 years of experience, I can proudly say that I would never be anything other than an educator. He was the most dedicated, devoted and enthusiastic teacher I have ever come across, and I try my level best to follow his footsteps.

In short what I want to say is that life is very unpredictable. Man proposes, God disposes! But still Allah SubhanTaalaa surrounds us with people and opportunities at times when we least expect them or are not able to understand the reasons why such and such thing happen- but it is God's way of equipping us for later days. Life has not been a bed of roses ever since I lost my husband, but one thing which kept me going, apart from my kids, was the love, respect and affection I received from my students. I just pray and wish that I may also be a beacon of light, an enabler, a mentor in their life as Sajjad Sahib had been in mine. Today he is no more, but I will be indebted to him forever. May Allah rest his soul in peace, Ameen!”

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