“Strength of a character isn’t always about how much you can handle before you break. It’s about how much you can handle after you’ve been broken.”
Sometimes mere words fall short to express how much strength is needed for a person to be valiant. This I realized after meeting with Mrs. Annum Hassan, widow of Captain Hassan Abid Shaheed. An interactive and motivating evening with her convinced me further that courage can help overcome all challenges of life. Mrs. Hassan showed how a woman’s inner strength and self-confidence can help her to stay firm. All you need is faith, resolve and a great degree of commitment.
Mrs. Hassan, only thirty-four, demonstrates a level of self-confidence and courage that I wish for every Pakistani woman to learn and take inspiration from. She is the mother of a nine-year-old daughter Anaya and a seven-year-old son, Muhammad Bin Hassan. With a unique shine in her eyes and an inspiring personality she turned my conversation with her in to an unforgettable memory. Annum is M.Phil in Business Administration and a successful lecturer in Sadiq Public School, Bahawalpur. She is a source of motivation for her students, family and friends.
Her daughter Anaya, is not only adorable but praiseworthy as well. Anaya is just as bright and confident as her mother, following in to her footsteps and finding ways to explore life. At the age of just nine-years she is quite confident about her aims in life and is paassionate to study Arts and be a painter. Like mother like daughter! They both are an inspiration to the females of our nation. They teach us about valor and how not to let our fears get to the best of us.
Seven-years ago, Mrs. Annum Hassan was clueless, to free herself from commiserate stares and sympathizing remarks. A young lady at the age of twenty-seven, did not know how to take a step forward in to her life after her husband had embraced shahadat. That being said, she managed to wrap up all the courage she could find to make the best of what she had and not what she had lost.
Captain Hassan Abid was serving in 173 Medium Regiment Artillery deployed in Operation Al-Mizan, performing the duties of a battery commander at Jani Khel (FR Bannu) where he embraced shahadat on February 8, 2011. He was on a patrolling mission near Wariki Jani Khel that a remote control Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was exploded by the terrorists. Captain Hassan sustained multiple injuries in the blast and embraced shahadat. In recognition to the act of extreme devotion to duty, feat of valor in the face of danger and ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, he was awarded with Tamgha-e-Basalat, posthumously.
Annum’s eyes twinkled with pride as she narrated the story for her fearless husband’s devotion towards Pakistan and Pakistan Army. Today, with great courage she shares that just three days before his shahadat, his advice for her was to spend her life with complete strength in case of any unforeseen event, and asked his wife that in case of his martyrdom, he should be buried beside his mother's grave. Annum chose to live in Bahawalpur as Captain Hassan Abid Shaheed’s widow where he was buried next to his mother's grave just as he had wished.
For her to take the decision at that point of time to stay back in Bahawalpur was quite difficult. She explains how her brother who was living abroad tried to convince her to move with him but she questioned: “How could I move to another country taking the children of a Shaheed, a son of the soil, who has given his life for his motherland?” She further explained: “I could not have done such injustice to my husband’s blood.” She decided to stay in Pakistan and groom her children to serve the country. She has been playing the vital role as a single parent and is an example of strength for every woman in Pakistan.
Mrs. Annum carries an inimitable poise in her personality which is exceptional to see in such a young lady. She was married to Captain Hassan Abid Shaheed on February 28, 2009. Her daughter Anaya, at the time of her father’s shahadat, was fourteen months old. Anaya still holds a picture close to her heart, taken beside her father’s coffin, as a last memory. Her son Muhammad Bin Hassan was born four months after her husband had embraced shahadat. She never lets any moment go without thanking Almighty for that very less yet valuable time she spent with her husband, who she very humbly gives credit for the strength she carries on today. Time has passed on and will continue to pass but the sacrifice of her children’s father is a great treasure to cherish and she feels great pride to be his wife.
Role models like Mrs. Annum Hassan are an inspiration for every woman, who set examples by carrying forward the legacy of sacrifice for our nation, by overcoming all fears, and challenges, and grooming their children to serve the country in the most exemplary way. She has overpowered her fear of being a single parent with pursuing her studies and making an independent space for herself in the society. She feels proud on her husband’s shahadat and tries her best not to let her children feel the absence of their father by playing successful dual role.
I was moved by Annum’s confidence, pride and spark in her eyes, while coming towards the end of my meeting with her. Her son Muhammad showed me his picture taken with his father’s portrait having his uniform cap on — a father he has never touched, never seen and never felt the warmth of — he says he wants to join Army just like his father. To my amazement the seven-year-old said that he wanted to be a Shaheed too. And in response to her son’s wish, she said: “I feel honored for being a widow of a Shaheed and I want my son to serve his nation joining Pakistan Army; the way his father did with pride. And it will be an absolute honor if one day in the future someone calls me a widow and mother of a Shaheed!”
The writer is a Public Relations Officer, Inter Services Public Relations Directorate (ISPR). M.Phil in International Relations from Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad and PhD scholar of Peace and Conflict Studies at National Defence University, Islamabad.
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