Braving the Odds
Updated: Sep 29
My name is Nur Jahan. I have always been a very attentive child. When I was younger, scoring the highest marks in every subject was my dream. I kept up the excellent work and got into the college of my dreams, Lady Shri Ram, in my favorite subject - History.
I know of rather few girls around me who have pursued Higher education, not that they didn’t want it but because of taboos around ‘a girl who is over-qualified.’ Sadly, I am one of the few girls who could climb the pecking order of higher education; I was the foremost to pursue a Masters in History and probably the first one to take up Research in the same. I have boxed a lot in my sphere of women. The reason I want to chase the research as my career is because I want women in my community to see me as their example, and I want to do unsurpassed for them in terms of education and life.
One of the things that drive me more towards pursuing research in History is education. Higher education among Muslim women in India is lacking. I want to labor to lift Muslim women out of their current situation and work for and with them. The reason I am working in Medieval India is to remind both Muslims and Hindus, the diversity of those times. I believe people need to stop taking vendetta on what Muslim rulers did. Instead, broaden their minds, and think comprehensibly of the medieval world.
In the last four years, I’ve closely worked with Rohingya refugees. I have written articles for general awareness about the Rohingyas crisis and life in Kalindi Kunj. Rohingyas needs a voice; they live in a wretched condition, a sad scenario. In one of my recent visits, I found the place filled with medical waste – surgical masks, gloves, and empty tablet packets, among other items. The nationwide lockdown has further ruined their only source of livelihood, and to add more, residents are also at risk because they can’t dispose of the waste which has been accumulating around their homes. Rohingyas, the “unidentified” refugees are in the worse in a global pandemic since the expanse around them is unequivocally enclosed with medical waste.
One might want to ask what wellbeing means to them? Most who work as medical waste collectors reside in the Assamese quarters. They are surviving on the wages of an authorized medical waste contractor to collect his quota from the hospital. As a historian, I am afraid that if their histories are not recorded or written, they may disappear from the world. It is essential to document their cries and stories. I have often tried to reach the authorities, but I have failed, so I have decided on my cause to become the voice of Rohingya Muslims in India. And I am not losing hope, and I will continue to become their voice till I breathe my last, that’s my commitment to life.
Nur Jahan is a Delhi based research scholar working for peace & coexistence The views expressed by the author are personal