“Stop encouraging the idea of education within these children”

Published: May 16, 2015
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A great man is not one who is born with the luxuries and comforts of life, rather the one who strives and struggles to attain the best he can. PHOTO: AFP

A great man is not one who is born with the luxuries and comforts of life, rather the one who strives and struggles to attain the best he can.  PHOTO: AFP A great man is not one who is born with the luxuries and comforts of life, rather the one who strives and struggles to attain the best he can. PHOTO: AFP

I recently got into an argument over class, status and ranks – the superficial boundaries that divide our society. And the greatest regret coming from it was the fact that even the most educated minds are still so deeply woven into these concepts that it provokes the irrationale amidst me.

I grew up with four kids who did not belong to my class; they were children of my ‘maid’ who I lovingly call my second mom. When I was growing up, the word ‘maid’ and ‘nokar’ was prohibited in my household. She was known as ‘Baji’, who helped us around the house, and her children were treated like any of us.

And I loved that about my house. We were like a family, her children were my closest friends and we played together as sisters, roaring around the house and never letting the society bind us into factions and classes. We all went to school, got scolded by our parents, went to the same ‘qari sahib’ and ate the same treats.

But as I grew older, things began to change. Not in any way concerning us children, but the parents. The same parents who taught me that we were all equals and one started reneging on their end of the deal. Class, status, ranks, kinds, types erupted midair so much so that covering my ears just to eliminate the rugged noise these arguments made became the final resort.

The most recurrent of those debates was the fact that these kids of ‘maids’ could not find their perfect match now that they were educated and the usual ‘rishtas’ they would’ve gotten, had they not been educated, would either be too low or those potential candidates would find these children too ‘high-maintenance’. So surprisingly, the literate elite come up with a ‘logical/rational’ solution:

Stop encouraging the idea of education within these children.

Wow.

The first time I heard this, I was flabbergasted. My world shook because all the lessons I had been taught since birth, suddenly they all seemed to vanish. The very same people who had taught me one thing were posing a solution contradicting the former principles to the very core.

As a child, my favourite memories, my favourite meals, my favourite people, all these came alongside Baji and her four wonderful daughters. I was the oldest so I taught them to dream big and be ambitious, I taught them the importance of education and how we, women, specifically needed to be independent and strong before we even thought of indulging in relationships that go beyond the parental-sibling kind.

I may sound naïve to many of you, and I probably am, but how in the world can their ‘class’ and ‘status’ be improved if they’re left behind in education and jobs upon the mere, probably correct, notion that they might not find suitable spouses.

Am I to blame for teaching them the norms of my ‘class’ that we were meant for and deserved more than what we were born with?

Am I to believe that just because she was born in a poorer family than I was, she does not deserve the right to education and breaking those shackles constricting her?

I am sorry but I refuse to believe this. We are what we become, our dreams, passions and ambitions define us, our will to excel marks our paths but, most of all, it is our sincerity and our belief that leads us forward.

So I say this now, let the children of your maids excel alongside your kids, erase the boundaries that have made them poor, so every upcoming generation is better than the former, and when they’re done with their education, you make it your onus to find them worthy spouses because they deserve it, for the hard work and dedication they have mustered to build themselves up.

A great man is not one who is born with the luxuries and comforts of life, rather the one who strives and struggles to attain the best he can, and that is exactly what we must teach every child in our society today.

Oroba Tasnim

Oroba Tasnim

A visionary donning idealism, a revolutionary seeking reprieve. She tweets @OrobaTasnim (twitter.com/OrobaTasnim)

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