The room that Alishba rented was part of a two-bedroom house. Nasreen, the lady who had rented the other room was a mid-wife. She was kind and helpful, yet loathed by society for her profession. Where she helped women give birth, treated their pre and post-natal issues, she also did abortions when required. The same society that paid her to do these acts detested her for doing them! It is difficult to say if it was lucky or unlucky for Alishba to have found this accommodation. While Nasreen happily paid the first month’s rent for Alishba and took care of her children while she was on duty. Her reputation caught on with Alishba and people from the surrounding areas started avoiding her as well. But little did she care; she had already learnt how dependable people were!
From then on, Alishba and her two sons paid their own bills. The boys brought in whatever little earned, there was no pressure on them as their mother always had a job or two. Her youngest daughter Sehrish grew up well protected and never worked outside the house.
All said and done it was not smooth sailing always. Alishba’s first job was that of a helper at a clinic. It had only been a few months while she had started working there when one servant passed a sexual comment. Although Alishba was not well versed in the abusive or sexual lingo, she felt extremely insulted and humiliated. This was her first experience of harassment, she left the job on the spot and informed the owner of the clinic days later when she went back to get her salary. Though losing her job made Alishba angry, she had kids to feed, bills to pay; she couldn’t afford melancholy.
Her second job which was her longest stint was at a school. She was in charge of cleaning and upkeep from dawn till day end. After which she had to do household chores at the residence of the school owner. Alishba and her kids were all housed inside the school premises, which was a much more respectable abode than her previous one. Whereas her living conditions had improved from before she was doing two jobs for the price of one.
As the years passed by Alishba worked as a cleaning maid, a cook, a tailor, a helper and any other position she could get a decent pay for. While she kept her head held high and never begged, borrowed or stole; the society eyes a lone mother differently altogether. One night a man from the neighbourhood came knocking at her door. He was dead drunk and kept insisting for her to open the door. Alishba refused, and for that night kept extra furniture in front of the already bolted door. But the next morning was a different ballgame altogether. She grabbed a big strong stick and went directly to the man and confronted him in front of the entire village. Alishba threatened and insulted him mid-town and never after that did anyone dare to harass her in that neighbourhood.
As time went by, her children grew up. Three of her older children got married but Alishba did not change her lifestyle. Before reporting for duty Alishba would go to her parents’ house and tend to their needs as her siblings were all married and settled in their own houses. She maintained this routine till she found a better paying job at another city. Again for the greater good she took that job and asked her children to tend to her parents. This is where the second paradox of Alishba’s life came into being. With their own job, and home commitments it was becoming increasingly difficult for the children to take care of Alishba’s parents. So the same children due to whom, Alihba’s parents had banished her from their house suggested moving them to their own!
The stress has caught on with her, today at forty-one years of age Alishba has chronic diabetes and hypertension. Her parents are completely and brothers partially dependent on Alishba and her children. She is a bundle of joy who still works full time and happily provides for them even though the journey hasn’t been easy at all.