And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to As-Sabirin” (155:2)
Many a times we go through this Ayah of the Holy Qur’an and also read its translation, but hardly ever ponder on the depth of its meaning. “Why me?” is our question from Allah instead of, “Why not me?” However, there are people who withstand loss in the form of death, especially of their loved ones, and show patience, courage and perseverance and look only towards Allah for help and guidance.
Journey of a young widow who withstood the challenges in raising her five children to excellence, bore the loss of a martyred son and yet her faith in the motherland remains unflinching.
Her Sabr (patience), Istaqamat (perseverance) and Jidd-o-Johad (struggle) are role model traits for all mothers.
Losing a young son, in my opinion, is the ultimate tragedy for a mother but there are blessed women of Allah, who endure even this calamity without a word of complaint. So when I met Rashida Bokhari, mother of Major Waseem Bokhari Shaheed, who laid his life in the line of duty, the depth of word As-Sabirin — the patient, unveiled itself to me.
Rashida Bokhari lost her husband Major Syed Ziaul Islam Bokhari, on May 1, 1970, as a result of brain hemorrhage. Rashida Bokhari was in her 30s when the tragedy struck. With five very young children, the youngest being hardly two years old and her twins getting enrolled in school after their father’s demise, she had no clue as to what fate had in store for her. With no house of her own and a meagre pension of her husband, Rashida Bokhari stood with one aim in mind, “I have to raise my children with dignity without burdening anyone, not even my parents.”
Though she had done her graduation, yet the onerous task of raising young children stopped her from getting any job. “Limiting my daily expenses, I tried to save the pension money for the education of children, as to me it was the only key to their success, with which they could stand in the world with their heads held high. I admitted all children in public schools of Lahore and never took any loan. I was lucky to have constant support from the Army as well. I used to do all household chores myself to save money for their future. Being very conscious of the future and security of my children, I devoted my whole time to their right upbringing, while attending to their studies, travel and clothing, with extreme care,” she shares with a pride and sobriety.
“I took one of my twin sons, Nadeem, to Kohat for selection in Pakistan Navy by train and Waseem to Lahore for commission in Pakistan Army. Nadeem is now Masha Allah a Commodore in Pakistan Navy. The eldest daughter, Shireen, is a professor at Kinnaird College, the second daughter, Dr. Seemi Bokhari is a PhD and is Member National Assembly, and the youngest, Zareen, has done MA in English and is teaching at a school,” says Rashida Bokhari, whose plain face with no make-up was luminescent with a sense of accomplishment.
On being asked if she ever felt that her children missed their father, she said somewhat melancholically, “Though I raised them with extreme love and care but one cannot remove the external factors, which intensify such feelings. I used to feel very helpless, when my kids would inform me that their class mates’ fathers had visited schools for a meeting. Only at that time, I would think that had he been alive he would have also visited his children’s schools. On such occasions, my father’s love and my own care somehow comforted them. But I never expressed my sadness in front of them, lest they feel the same way.”
On a question about the martyrdom of Major Waseem, the 84-year old Rashida Bokhari looked at me with moist eyes, as if gathering courage to recall the memories:
“How can I forget that fateful day of July 1, 1999. Kargil war was going on. Major Waseem, who was posted at Gujranwala, was going for his course at Command & Staff College, Quetta. Accompanied by a captain and copilot, Waseem — the Chief Instructor, was on his early morning flight towards Multan when his aircraft met some disturbance. As it dawned upon him that the aircraft was about to crash, he took a decision, which only courageous people can take. He diverted his aircraft towards the fields, in order to avoid any civilian casualty in the nearby city and embraced Shahadat. After the incident, Admiral Mehmood Ali Dogar took me and Nadeem to Multan. He kept on comforting me on way. They took us to Waseem’s in-laws’ house and when his casket came in front of me, only then could I believe that my son had embraced martyrdom,” she recounted with a tear-choked throat.
“While coming back home, I had mixed feelings, which I can’t explain. When they asked me to take any of his belongings, or even his car, I refused. He was a Shaheed and for me he was alive,” she said in a matter of fact tone.
“It has been 20 years since Major Waseem’s martyrdom, but it seems like yesterday. His son, Ahmed Ramiz Bokhari, who was two years old when his father embraced martyrdom, is now 22 years old and is preparing to go abroad for higher studies. His face and features are just like his father, which enlivens the memory of my Shaheed son,” said the frail but firm lady while gazing straight as if she was seeing her son alive in front of her.
Despite all the pain she suffers since her son died, Rashida Bokhari does not have any regrets about letting her sons join the Armed Forces. “Being sons of an Army officer, patriotism and love for Armed Forces runs in the blood of my children. It was but natural that they were inclined towards joining the Armed Forces and my encouragement further fuelled their passion,” she says with pride.
As a mother, who passed through so much in life, she advises all mothers to educate their children and instill in them a love of country and its people so strong that they be willing to make any sacrifice imaginable. “Masha Allah all of my children are highly educated and serving the country well. I have seven grandchildren who are pursuing education at various levels. It’s actually mothers’ responsibility to raise children well. It all depends on a mother’s upbringing how her children turn out to be in future. Mothers should focus their entire energies towards better make-up of their children including their habits, attitudes and thinking,” she says stressing the role of a mother in influencing her children to become better humans and citizens. Rashida Bokhari says that she always advises her grandchildren to join the Armed Forces of Pakistan. Coming back from Rashida Bokhari’s interview, I had renewed confidence in future of my country that has been blessed with mothers like her.HH
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