Obit: A tale of an empowered woman
BY: Akeel Rashid
Nowadays when it comes to heading a household or a business establishment by a woman, it is a peculiar thing to witness for the people in our part of the world. We people are stunned on finding a woman riding a scooty and women empowerment is perceived as a new-sprung development in Kashmir; however, the authority, rights and status conferred to Kashmiri women receded as the Kashmir conflict advanced. My paternal aunt who left for her heavenly abode on 18th Feb 2018 – left behind an explanation about how women empowerment is an antique act ingrained in our society. In fact, everyone of us can trace the empowered status of Kashmiri women by revisiting the lives of our grand lineage.
Revering the women in Kashmir with ‘Saab’ is very unique, the title which is conferred by Kashmiris to fete a remarkable person and this prized title is exclusively reserved for the menfolk. My deceased paternal aunt was conferred with this title and was widely known as Taja Saab. Taja was the daughter of renowned personality, Abdul Rahim Sofi of Panzipora Sangrama who was a magistrate (Tehsildaar) in the 1960’s. Taja Begum was consulted by her father on matters related to the societal welfare and was given the authority by him to execute those duties. Taja Saab would distribute the rice among the needy in her locality; besides, fulfilling other important philanthropic contributions. Whatever achievements are in the name of his father, she has played a great role in shaping those achievements.
Given the huge scope of magisterial job at that time, her father would remain overly busy with his official engagements and looking after the affairs at home was very difficult for him. Inspite of having two sons to take the charge of the household, father of my paternal aunt did not follow the patriarchal norm of the society and appointed Taja to head the family. Whatever cultivable land was owned by her father, all of its produce was facilitated by Taja herself. She also recommended her father to purchase a large demesne of apple orchard which continues to act as an important source of income to our family. As told to me by one of my paternal aunt, Taja had mastery of horseback riding and she would take the tour of whole village on a horse.
Father of my paternal aunt passed away several years before his retirement age and the responsibility of entire family fell on the shoulders of Taja. She continued to remain resilient and conducted the marriage of her younger brother and sister. She got married only after handing over a financially stable household to her younger brothers.
Taja had received the religious knowledge during her early childhood and was also very fluent in Persian. It was due to her being generous that Poff Khala ( as I loved to call her) was abided by the people. She passed away in Bangalore on 18th February, 2018, where her son is settled as a doctor and was brought to her home in Tarzova Sopore the next day. Thousands of people including her relatives bid a tearful adieu to my paternal aunt during her last burial rites.
You will be missed.