The large amphitheater echoed with the applaud when the host called Miss Zubeen. Everyone witnessed a gracious woman in her early thirties who made her appearance on the stage with such elegance as if nothing ever had happened to her life. She was dressed in a black, flattering gown, the veil that covered her face, revealed only her optimistic, brown eyes. She was there to receive National Female Gallantry Award. While receiving the award, tears were constantly rolling down from her eyes, they gain momentum, the instant the host asked her to unveil her face. She was expecting that, hence in a courageous manner unveiled her face, exposing not only a terribly burned face, de shaped lips, the eyes without eyebrows and lashes. Suddenly the air became as still as a graveyard, even one couldn’t sense people’s breaths.
The silence broke when the host requested Miss Zubeen to give a brief introduction of herself that would help to unleash the hidden truths of her life. She mustered up courage and uttered just a single sentence and then …. her thirty years’ journey she covered so far appeared before her closed eyes just like a telefilm.
Zubeen was blessed with stunning features by Allah Almighty. With brown, shining eyes, she had wheatish complexion and brown, curly hair just adds into her beauty. Though she belonged to a lower-middle class family, she along with her parents was living a happy, contented life. Her early life days were spent in her father’s ancestral house in a village. There in the village was a government school where Zubeen started her education. Every day, she happily jumped on her father’s bicycle, wearing dull colored uniform, holding her small tiffin in her small hands quite firmly. She was a keen student wanted to learn much more than her age. It was when she turned 8, her father took a painful decision to make a move towards city for her good education and better life style. It was quite difficult for him to leave his ancestral home and village but he took it just for the sake of Zubeen’s future.
Belonging to the profession of farming, to get a respectable career in city and earn bread and butter for his family gave tough time to Rafique, Zubeen’s father. He did not lose hope and kept on finding some means to earn livelihood. After much struggle of a month and so, he was able to buy a rickshaw. He worked really hard and managed to arrange some amount for Zubeen’s admission in one of the fine schools of the community. Meanwhile, Allah blessed him with a son, who was eight years younger than Zubeen. Being a kind-hearted soul and due to her loving, caring nature, Zubeen took great care of her brother.
Slowly and gradually, Zubeen started showing outstanding progress in her studies. Though it was not a piece of cake for her to get adjusted in a new environment, she never gave up. On her own, she started learning English as it was a must in the school. One Friday, she requested her father to take her to a nearby old bookshop, from where she managed to buy few English storybooks and one dictionary. Reaching home, she enthusiastically covered her small fortune with old newspapers to give them a whole new look and asked Shakila, her mother to sew the books so they remained in good shape for a long time.
Zubeen loved the subject of Mathematics, she always got outstanding marks in it that really made her parents proud. The time just flew as fast as an eagle’s flight and Zubeen got scholarship to get enrolled in one of the leading colleges of the city. She always had a dream to see herself wearing a Professor’s gown and teaching Mathematics to students by pouring all her knowledge and expertise that help them to learn as much and as easily as she could.
It was the time when she passed her intermediate, a marriage proposal came for her. Though Zubeen’s parents, especially her mother Shakila was in search of a good partner for Zubeen, the dilemma here was that the proposal came from one of the dissolute fellow of the area named Anwaar. He had a bad reputation in the vicinity Zubeen’s parents wasn’t expecting such kind of a marriage proposal for her intelligent, beautiful daughter. Then and there they rejected the proposal being absolutely unaware of the severe circumstances that could happen in their lives after that.
Time went by. Zubeen and her parents forgot about Anwaar and the proposal he brought. Then one day something happened that changed the whole life of the family. It was the darkest day in the life of Zubeen. As usual she was returning home from college, the street was quite quiet. Suddenly, the bike’s screech caught Zubeen’s attention. It was too late for her to understand what’s going to happen and whose face was behind the veil, due to the severe pain she was forced to bear due to the acid being thrown on her face by some anonymous figure. Her hues and cries were enough to brought the neighbors out in the street. Her mother too, was standing among the crowd when she recognized the bag lying near the screaming girl. She pushed everyone aside and asked some ladies to help her taking Zubeen to home. Continuously she was crying and her cries were mingled with the painful screams of Zubeen. One of the neighbors called Zubeen’s father and Rescue 1122 for ambulance.
Simultaneously Zubeen’s father and the ambulance arrived within the time period of 15 minutes. Till that time, Zubeen got faint as the pain was excruciating. Shakila was continuously crying as she was feeling the same agony as her daughter was. The rescue workers and Zubeen’s father took Zubeen to the nearest hospital in emergency. The doctors immediately took her to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and started the medical procedure.
After almost three hours’ time, one of the doctors appeared from ICU and gave a good news for which Zubeen’s parents were continuously praying for. Yes, for the life of their daughter. The doctor told them that they succeed in saving Zubeen’s life, that brought happiness on the sad faces of Zubeen’s parents. But alas Zubeen’s facial beauty was almost 80% lost due to the acid attack, sadly added the doctor. And that carried a flood of tears in Zubeen’s parents once smiling eyes.
Zubeen remained in the hospital for next 6-7 days. After thorough examination, the senior doctor gave permission to Zubeen’s parents for taking her home but advised them to bring Zubeen for regular follow-ups that were the must. Zubeen reached home with shattered heart and unrecognizable facial features. She entered her room with such difficulty as if she was walking with iron feet, every step meant a lot to her. There in her room, on one of the walls a full image mirror was fixed. She had no courage to view herself in that. So, she quickly escaped from there and lay on her bed with eyes as closed as a shop’s shutter.
After that incident, Zubeen left her college. Few months passed, when she gained some momentum in her life, she told her father for continuing her studies online. It was a great news for her parents because they knew that it would definitely be helpful in diverting her attention from that terrible event of her life. Zubeen took admission in intermediate and passed the examination with flying colors. That raised her spirit, thus she continued her studies. In two years’ time, she was successful in getting scholarship for doing Masters in Mathematics.
Zubeen simply said ‘no’ to the outside world. After completing her Masters, a really challenging time was waiting for her. It was the time for Zubeen to do some work and help her father in financial matters for the family’s better lifestyle. She didn’t lose hope rather took a dauntless decision of applying for an Assistant Professor in University. After a day or two, she received a phone call for an interview. Zubeen quickly went to her parents and gave them the great news. Actually her parents were not willing for her job as they were of the view that whenever she would step out in the cruel, outside world, there was the possibility that she lost her courage due to people’s hurting remarks on her appearance. Suddenly Shakila found the solution to that problem by suggesting Zubeen to start wearing abaya and always covering her face with a veil. Zubeen’s parents found themselves helpless in front of her perseverance. Hence, they happily gave her permission to start the career.
Zubeen got selected as Assistant Professor due to her intelligence and determination. Her dedication was outstanding. The way she delivered lectures and helped her students in understanding difficult Mathematical equations was really remarkable. The efforts she put soon helped her in gaining the title of the Best teacher. Zubeen was very pleased as she was now become the earning soul for her family. She asked her father to stop worrying about expenses and let her do everything on her own as she knew the hard times through which her parents passed throughout their lives for Zubeen and her brother’s education and a middle-class lifestyle.
Zubeen was receiving a handsome salary so they moved to a new home. All the time, Zubeen’s parents were worried about her marriage. But, she had told them that she would never marry and be with them till her death. With her dedication, Zubeen was able to start her own academy. That gained popularity in less than a year.
One day, while reading newspaper, the advertisement caught Zubeen’s attention. The announcement was about the event in which the awards would be given to the valiant women of the nation who themselves lead a struggling life but served the country in a true sense. Zubeen thought of her life, the pain she bore just to reject the unmatched marriage proposal, all the years she spent in gaining confidence and helping herself coming out of the torture. Then and there, she decided to apply for the National Female Gallantry Award by writing her whole story and sending it to the concerned organization. After three days, she received an invitation letter from the event management congratulating her for being selected for the award. Zubeen wasn’t expecting that. But she knew it very well that Allah Almighty never waste the efforts of any soul especially those who are Sabireen (the Patient).
The moment the last word was uttered by Zubeen, the whole crowd gave Zubeen standing ovation. The chief guest Miss. Zulaikha hugged Zubeen and present the award to her with the bouquet of flowers whose fragrance gave a refreshing start to her drowning spirit at that moment. She quickly wiped her tears and sophisticatedly walked down from the platform and sat among the row of other dignified ladies of the nation.