My Daughter And I Took On Life One Day At A Time: Shama Sheikh

Shama Sheikh

These days one rarely comes across a virtuous person whose life is inspirational in every way. SheThePeople.TV spoke to one such single mother living in Mumbai. At 79, Shama Sheikh radiates peace, grace and warmth. While discussing her ordeal, she shares what keeps her going strong even today and the reason why her daughter is her only inspiration. 

“It was tough, but it wasn’t a bad journey. We sailed through it.”

Her life has witnessed a plethora of emotions. It has been emotionally and mentally draining, and physically tiring, time to time. However, what stayed intact was her willpower to sail through the storm and the bond that she and her daughter shared all along. She reveals her lifelong circumstances, saying, it has been a long journey. I left home to get married against the wishes of my family because I married out of my religion. My daughter was born after two years. My husband and I lived separately from his family. When it came to child care, I had no one to advise me.”  Mrs Sheikh raised her child alone. She read a lot of articles at the time to educate herself about child care.

She lost her husband when her daughter was nine. It was then that the hardest part of her journey began.

She switched houses to a suburb a long distance away from her daughter’s school, began working in a bank having received a job on compassionate grounds from her husband’s bank, and travelled long hours to and back from her office. When asked about it, she said, My daughter was only nine when she lost her father. It was then that we were on our own completely. However, I got a job in the bank, along with a residential quarter. The travel from the house to my daughter’s school, or, from workplace to the house, all of it was exhausting.”

Life went by – Cautiously, promisingly and bravely

“There were no telephones at the time. Though my daughter had been travelling alone since the age of nine, I was constantly worried, whether she reached home safely, or had her food on time and so on. I died a thousand deaths while she was away from home. Another major problem was that income wasn’t sufficient. There was no money for going to the movies or eating out or new clothes, or any such indulgences.”

While discussing how society and people around reacted towards her single status back then she says that the world is full of opportunists, she never considered getting remarried because of her daughter. When asked whether she took help from anyone she said, “No one came forward to help. Even worse, society always gossips and is constantly trying to pick on you. We had to keep away from all of it.”

My daughter is my entire support system

Shama Sheikh shares having lost her father at such a tender age, their daughter matured quickly, supporting her at every step. Initially, Sheikh was worried that her daughter may get into wrong company, however, her daughter’s sensibility never gave her a chance to worry again. “I kept telling her that I am here today, I may not be there tomorrow. I advised her to become independent in every way that she could. She was so fond of reading that she preferred staying home to read a book instead of going out. She was a very talkative girl, but after her father’s death, she withdrew completely into her shell. She matured early for her age, and thus became my biggest support. Eventually, she got married and is my inspiration even today.”

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Mrs. Sheikh believes that women these days prefer being on their own instead of staying on in a dysfunctional marriage. She believes that women today would rather stay independently and avoid so much stress surrounding a bad marriage.

When I asked her if there’s anything she would like to add, she humbly signs off by saying, “What more do I say. We survived!”

Shama Sheikh’s life has been no bed of roses, but she is living proof that when we are determined to make it in life despite all odds, we find lasting peace and happiness. This mother’s day we salute her unwavering inspiring bond with her daughter, her spirit and her belief to take on life as it comes, one day at a time.

Read more stories by Bhawana

Bhawana is an intern with SheThePeople.TV