Tuesday, March 28, 2017
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Lifestyle

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by Sarah Taylor
by Sarah Taylor

Autumn is now fast approaching, and although I’ll be sad to say goodbye to the longer, warmer days of summer, autumn is by far my favourite season, and certainly poses fewer beauty challenges than it’s predecessor, with its make-up melting sunshine, and hairstyle sabotaging humidity, however we still need to navigate through that awkward in-between phase where were not quite sure how many layers to wear or whether we’ll be needing sunglasses, an umbrella – or both! The changing and often unpredictable weather conditions, combination of switching between air-conditioning and heating and the return to spending more time indoors should act as a prompt for us to take a look at how we are taking care of our skin and hair, and make the necessary tweaks here and there.

To help I’ve put together my top tips to help you transition your beauty routine from summer to autumn:

Get rich quick!
Now is the time to begin to make the switch from light cleansing fluids and moisturisers to richer balms, creams and oil type skincare products, unless your skin is particularly oily. It’s also the perfect time to step up your body exfoliating and moisturising regime, as the skin on our arms and legs can also begin to become drier at this time of year as we head towards the colder months.

10913695-woman-run-in-autumn-park-stock-photoShady business
Most people find that their skin tone varies slightly throughout the year, so there’s a good chance that your summer foundation shade won’t work for you in autumn if your skin tone naturally lightens over the colder months, or if you have acquired a tan over summer. It’s a good idea to have two base products (that differ in both tone and texture) that you can keep on rotation, one lighter formulation for your spring/summer kit, and a richer one for autumn/winter.

Hydrate your hair
Throughout summer we’re more likely to allow our hair to dry naturally, or wear it tied up, as the season changes our hair will soon suffer the effects of central heating, hairdryers or other heated styling tools. Get a head start by applying a deep conditioning treatment weekly, always use a heat-protecting product when styling your hair and go for regular trims to keep split ends at bay.

Look after your lips
Lips can often be the first area to show signs of dryness and dehydration as they do not contain sebaceous glands, so cannot produce oil to stay moisturised, and can really suffer in changing temperatures. Exfoliate once or twice weekly with a lip scrub, and moisturise regularly with a nourishing lip balm.

Maintain your summer glow
The sunshine may be disappearing but that does mean you can’t hang on to your radiant summer glow. Keep skin looking luminous by adding a couple of drops of liquid highlighter to your moisturiser or foundation. For extra warmth apply bronzer in the shape of a number three starting next to the browbone, then sweeping underneath the cheekbone and finally along the jawline, keeping the application light.

Move your make-up towards the dark side
It’s time to dig out the deeper tones in your make-up collection. Be inspired by the amber, russet and brown tones that are present in nature throughout autumn. Look for rich plums, golds and jewel tones and instead of a gloss try a rich, matte lipstick or if you prefer a more subtle make-up look wear any darker tones as a sheer wash of colour instead.

 Get circulating
As the nights begin to draw in it’s tempting to want to hibernate indoors but to avoid dull skin it’s vital that you keep active to maintain good circulation, which can be affected by cooler weather. Making the extra effort to massage creams and oils into skin during application, which will also help maintain good blood flow to the skin.

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by Sarah Taylor
by Sarah Taylor

After much anticipation, the summer holiday season has finally arrived!

Now, whilst there’s no doubt about the many benefits that taking a well earned break from our busy day-to-day lives affords our minds and bodies, unfortunately travelling to our dream destination can be a nightmare for our skin and hair. But, there are things you can do to help prevent or minimise any travel beauty troubles, and get a head start on your holiday glow!

Here are my top travel beauty tips for a happy holiday:

Before you go, pack your holiday beauty kit like a pro!

As a make-up artist I’ve had to learn to get choosing the right products for a particular job, and packing them carefully down to an art! The most important tip I can give you is to be honest with yourself about what products you really need, and will actually use, during your holiday. Sadly, luggage space is limited, so as tempting as it may be to take your entire make-up collection ‘just in case’ when it comes to holiday beauty less is definitely more! Use your time spent packing as an opportunity to review your routine, and break out of a make-up rut, see what products you can leave behind, or use your holiday as an opportunity to introduce a new product or two.

In my experience a good all-round basic travel make-up kit would include; a base (tinted moisturiser or foundation) concealer, blusher, mascara (waterproof), eyeliner, brow pencil, two eyeshadows (one beige/neutral for daytime and one smoky brown, grey or plum for evening) and two lipsticks (one neutral and one bright or bold shade) in terms of space this amount of make-up will take up no more space than an average sized paperback book.

101984619_wGo for multitasking products where you can to save both time and space, holidays are the perfect time to put to use all those testers that you can pick up from department stores, or get free with magazines. As well as being small in size, most will be used up during your trip meaning less for you to carry home (or giving you more space for souvenirs!) and by trying a few different products you may even discover a new favourite one.

If you don’t have a stash of sample size products to take then I recommend decanting your full size products into travel size bottles, you can pick up sets of empty bottles and pots in major high street chemists and some supermarkets. This is usually a better option than buying new toiletries during your trip, as they may be significantly more expensive in other countries, particularly if you are looking for exact replacements.

So, once you have determined what you need my next top packing tip is to stock up on plenty of clear plastic zip lock bags ahead of your trip. Those same bags that are usually used for transporting your packed lunch are another make-up artist must have. They have earned this unlikely superior status as they are an inexpensive way to store your products in a way that allows you to easily see what’s in the bag, keep them clean and limit the damage to the rest of your luggage should any sort of spillage occur – which could otherwise prove disastrous!

The night before your flight
Last thing at night slather on a nourishing serum and massage in a rich, nourishing night cream (unless your skin is prone to oiliness) to boost skin hydration, this will help mitigate the drying and dehydrating effects of the aircraft cabin environment, where humidity is much lower.

The day of departure
If you wear make-up it can be helpful for your skin to skip foundation and opt for tinted moisturiser instead, which will give you light coverage and help maintain hydration, then just use a dab of concealer where needed.

Avoid mascara and creamy eyeshadows – or anything else that may migrate down your face if you take an in-flight nap. Choose moisturising lip balms or lipsticks if you prefer to wear some colour rather than longwearing lipsticks, as their formulations can be quite drying, and may further dehydrate your lips. If your hair is prone to dryness I suggest applying a little leave in conditioning product pre-flight, or if your hair is long try a nourishing oil through the mid-lengths and ends instead, then, tie it up in a loose bun or updo, and wash out once you arrive at the hotel to strengthen and boost it’s condition.

During the flight
The most important thing is to stay as hydrated as possible, and rest as much as you can, to arrive feeling refreshed. For extra hydration mist the skin with a water spritz, to help with relaxation look out for one containing lavender or rose. Make sure you move around frequently during your flight, this is important for maintaining good circulation, which in turn will help prevent your skin from becoming dull looking.

Post-holiday
When you return try to maintain some of your good holiday habits such as drinking more water and taking more rest. If you have spent time away in an extreme climate, or have been swimming in the sea or chlorinated swimming pools I recommend giving yourself an at home facial, and applying a deep conditioning treatment to restore the condition of your skin and hair.

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Shama Zulqurnain was born on 11 August 1977 at Boundary Park Hospital Oldham.

Raised in a traditional cultural Muslim family, faith was an important factor whilst growing up as her ancestors were from the Dina District of Jhelum, Pakistan. Her father was from Dina and her mother was from Jhelum when they arrived in England as teenagers and eventually married in Oldham. Shama has a unique story. A story of love, hate, betrayal, cultural differences and religious interpretations. This is Shama’s story… (Final part).

Gradually my marriage improved but deep down all my dreams were crushed. I mostly stayed around the house as all my ambitions were gone. I started working in the family business and I had another baby boy. I guess the family was pleased as I produced another boy. The more I worked in the family business, the more I felt I was in charge.

I got into modelling and as a result it made me feel good about myself. The modelling helped me with my condition but I still wanted to do something else. I started meeting people and thought of creating a business. I could be anything I wanted if I put my mind to it. Should I open a modelling agency? Or Study to be a local councillor?

jhgjEventually, I started working for a modelling agency for a while. I loved scouting and met some nice young people in the process. I was like a mother to them and I participated in Miss Yorkshire as manager for the models. It was a brilliant experience. I then I met a wedding venue owner and discussed how I could help him. I was confidant in managing staff so I started going to events to see how everything was organised. I then began to recruit and manage new staff at the venue. I was likable and I adored people as I’m a people’s person. It went very well and I was there for a year until I decided to setup my own hospitality agency.

With the help of my daughters and my friend who was great with technology and making brochures etc, I invested in advertising material and received help and advice from a government scheme. So there I was recruiting, looking at offices, getting a few jobs and getting myself out there.

Ultimately, F1 hospitality Events & Promotions ltd was created. It was a very happy stage in my life.

kjghkbI then met a man called Mizan Muqit, a really genuine man. I arranged a meeting with him to advertise my advert in his Union Newspaper as he was a very successful Union Officer. He was happy to help and advise me as to how to do everything professionally and how to treat staff fairly.

When I had any problems, I spoke to him. We both started going to business shows and I told him my business plan. He could see the potential in me and my business and became my business partner. Today, Mizan and I have made our business a professional setup and we are growing day by day. I am proud to say that I am the joint partner of F1 Hospitality Events & Promotions Ltd. We have a big data base of clients and work all over the UK. We have over 200 staff and still growing

Mizan and I have dedicated ourselves to this company and we are seeing great results.

You have read my story and I hope after reading it, you realise that it is never too late to fulfil your dreams. Life throws many obstacles in the way and as you have read, I had many problems throughout my life but I never stopped dreaming and hoping for the best. I hope to inspire other women who feel trapped in their lives. Dreams can come true. Never give up!

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Young visitors to Bradford Industrial Museum will get to handle small animals and reptiles at two special sessions over the summer holiday.

There is an animal theme at the Bradford Council-owned Eccleshill Museum over the summer season with two exhibitions – ‘Beastly Machines’, animatronic animal inspired sculptures by artist Johnny White and ‘Animal Attraction’ which uses items from Bradford Museums and Galleries collections to look at our relationship with animals in the past.

The Zoolab sessions complement these exhibitions and take place in the Animal Attraction gallery space. Visitors will get the chance to encounter a range of reptiles, insects and small mammals, including hedgehogs and frogs.

Coun Sarah Ferriby, Executive Member for Environment, Sport and Culture, said: “This event looks like it will be fun for all the family, literally bringing the themes of the two exhibitions to life.”

The sessions will be on Wednesday 27 July and Wednesday 3 August, both running from 11am-1.30pm.

This event is free, but families are advised to book, as space will be limited.

Prams and pushchairs can be left at reception and the museum is a breast-feeding friendly site.

To book a place, ring the museum’s reception desk on 01274 435900. More information can be found on the website – www.bradfordmuseums.org

by Sarah Taylor
by Sarah Taylor

Recently the ever-glamorous actress Joanna Lumley has attributed her decade-defying skin to a budget friendly beauty product that can be picked up on the high street for as little as £1.29 a pot. The skin savior in question is Astral Original All Over Face and Body cream. Instantly recognisable by its classic blue packaging, this marvelous multitasking moisturiser has been earning its place in bathroom cabinets across Britain since the early 1950s!

So, what is the secret of this longstanding, low-cost skincare stalwart’s success?

My guess would be that it’s down to the fact that one of its main ingredients is lanolin. A by-product of wool production lanolin (or wool wax or wool fat as it is also known) is the substance naturally produced by sheep, which helps to repel water, and protect their coats. The collection of lanolin is not harmful to the animal, when the sheep is shorn each year; the lanolin is extracted and refined. It is then cleaned and purified for use in cosmetics.

10000586However, Astral is not the only lanolin-containing product with legions of fans and celebrity endorsements. It is also a main ingredient in Elizabeth Arden’s Eight Hour Cream, which is one of the all-time bestselling beauty products, and a Make-up Artist must-have. Newer to the scene is cult product Lanolips, which was developed by Australian beauty entrepreneur Kirsten Carriol who, after struggling to find the perfect lip balm, realised that she hadn’t encountered a single product that moisturised as well as the lanolin her parents used on her lips and skin as a child. Carriol also recalled her father (a pioneering and award winning Professor in the science of DNA) explaining to her that the molecular structure of lanolin was ‘the secret to moisturisation’ – the rest is international multi award winning history!

Now I’m a relatively recent convert to Lanolips, but I can categorically state that the The Original 101 Ointment is hands down the best lip balm I have ever used, mostly due to the fact that it offers long lasting moisturisation, so doesn’t leave you feeling like you need to reapply it every ten minutes, like many others do – and I also happen to adore it’s Old Hollywood glamour style retro packaging!

But don’t just take my word for it, here’s the lowdown on why skin loves lanolin:

Lanolin closely resembles human skins own lipid structure, making it highly compatible for use on the skin.

It forms a semi-occlusive breathable barrier, meaning it doesn’t ‘smother’ the skin, thus allowing the skin to continue to carry out its essential biological functions.

Lanolin is a humectant, and once absorbed into the skin it is able to hold at least twice it’s own weight in water.

It not only moistuirises, but also acts as a barrier to help retain moisture in the skin, thus eliminating the need for endless reapplication of products.

It is particularly effective on very dry skin, or skin that has become thickened or developed callouses, and can be used to soften rough and cracked heels, which is something many of us may be mindful of at the moment as we approach sandal season!

Lanolin is not only used in cosmetic products. The healthcare industry use medical grade lanolin as a base for ointments, and its inclusion assists in the delivery of medicinal ingredients to the skin.

While there’s no doubt that lanolin is a fantastic moisturising ingredient, some people prefer not use animal products, so if you are looking for a plant-based alternative to lanolin I recommend choosing products that contain coconut or Agan oil, or shea butter.

Finally, a word of cautionAs lanolin is derived from sheep’s wool, people with wool allergies should not use products containing lanolin. It may also cause irritation for those with sensitive skin (as can any cosmetic ingredient) so prior to the use of any lanolin cream a small test patch should be done to check for any adverse reaction, such as redness or itching. If any reaction occurs the product should not be used.

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Attention all fish and chips lovers! The famous Mother Hubbard’s fish and chips diner has recently opened another branch in Wakefield. This is the fifth diner that the chain has opened, after the initial successful launch on 4th January.

MHWakefiield_17Established in Bradford in 1972, Mother Hubbard’s is a name that is synced with traditional fish and chips. The newly opened store boasts modern wooden interiors which create a clean, natural look. The diner also has ample seating and standing space, to cater to your needs.

The diner has remained true to its roots with traditional methods of getting the fish perfectly battered, still being used over the years. The fish fryers in store have over 30 years’ worth of experience and ensure that the Halal English batter recipe, used on 100% prime haddock hasn’t changed. The chips are hand-cut from British farmed potatoes and make the perfect match with mushy peas or a shake of malt vinegar.

Mother Hubbard’s is enjoying success and expanding throughout Yorkshire at a rapid rate. With over 30 years of experience and a member of the NFFF, plans to open further diners are always on the horizon.

MHWakefiield_13The new family diner located on Horbury Road is already making its mark on the area. This popular location in Wakefield is open seven days a week from 11am – 11pm, so pop in at your convenience.

The menu offers a wide variety of expertly prepared traditional English foods; these include delicious pies prepared with 100% HMC sourced meat. All the fish that is used is ethically sourced 100% premium Haddock, wild caught from renewable fish stocks in Icelandic waters. The wild caught premium Haddock is a healthy option with it being high in protein, low in saturated fat and bursting with essential oils.

Mother Hubbards is a brand synonymous with English tradition and is a great example of the perfect family dining experience.

 

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Aakash - Commercial Photography by Bevan Cockerill-78Bradford is known around the world for its diverse range of food and the quality of restaurants in the city.

Arguably one of the most famous restaurants in Bradford and beyond, the Aakash Restaurant in Cleckheaton, is known as the largest Indian restaurant in the world and has now opened its doors every day of the week.

Built on a reputation for having a passion for excellence, both in the food they serve and the service they provide, their world famous five course Indian buffet, prepared by 5-Star Chef’s, offers the customer a chance to sample as many of their delectable dishes as they like, and with over 54 dishes available you are in for a treat.

Aakash - Commercial Photography by Bevan Cockerill-38With beautiful interior décor and a warm, friendly and family environment, Aakash is one of the jewels in Bradford’s crown. Since its opening, Aakash has gained much public and critical acclaim. On offer is a mouth-watering selection of traditional, freshly cooked Indian dishes with the emphasis being on quality within the elegant surroundings of a Grade II listed building.

Weddings

If you are looking for that special venue to complement your special occasion then look no further than Aakash. The unique surroundings of the Aakash allows you the flexibility to create a memorable celebration. Choose the whole venue to accommodate 850 people or for more intimate occasions why not combine and select from the Grand Main Hall or the purpose built Function Room.

Their unique approach to making sure that all your needs are met means you will have a dedicated event planner to help you organise everything.

Celebrations

Aakash is available for exclusive hire for parties of up to 850 guests. They have a private dining area and function room for up to 200 guests. The bar and lounge is also available for receptions as a meeting place for before and after dinner drinks. Aakash are competitively priced and provide excellent value for money. Their celebrated chefs can provide special, unique menus by arrangement and there are no hire fees for holding events, as charges are based on a minimum spend.

Outside Catering

Aakash can supply a catering service for a wide range of occasions, including parties at home, garden parties, mendhi parties, weddings, walimas and engagements, business meetings, product launches, press launches and a variety of other private or business functions.

Whether it be a simple lunch with canapés to a full scale banquet, their handpicked team of banqueting chefs are well-trained to demonstrate the passion for excellence. Aakash always strive to adapt to any environment or request, no matter how large or small the venue and they are always on hand to advise on aspects of the catering, organisation and planning, to ensure that you are free to relax and spend your time with friends, family or colleagues.

Aakash Restaurant is now open 7 days a week. For more information, or to make a booking, contact 01274 878866 or visit the restaurant at Bradford Road, Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, BD19 3PN.

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Shama Zulqurnain was born on 11 August 1977 at Boundary Park Hospital Oldham.

Raised in a traditional cultural Muslim family, faith was an important factor whilst growing up as her ancestors were from the Dina District of Jhelum, Pakistan. Her father was from Dina and her mother was from Jhelum when they arrived in England as teenagers and eventually married in Oldham. Shama has a unique story. A story of love, hate, betrayal, cultural differences and religious interpretations. This is Shama’s story… (Part 4).

Gradually my marriage improved but deep down all my dreams were crushed. I mostly stayed around the house as all my ambitions were gone. I started working in the family business and I had another baby boy. I guess the family was pleased as I produced another boy. The more I worked in the family business, the more I felt I was in charge.

HJVI wanted to make the business grow and gradually started Introducing new things. Eventually I got it busy and running. The business kept me occupied and away from family life for a while. I developed a routine of finishing at school time to collect my kids. I did the shopping, picked up the children and started over again. Other daily chores included cooking, feeding the family and looking after my disabled mother in law.

Even though I developed a routine, it felt as though every day was the same. It became monotonous.

All the restrictive cultural expectations were getting me down but I carried on accepting it. I simply got my head down, kept my distance and played along with it.

My mum and dad lived over the road and it seemed that everyone was happy because I was an obedient daughter-in-law, wife and mother. I remember thinking would I want my daughters to have the same life as me? I was still controlled by everyone. I was regularly told how to raise and discipline my children. It felt as though I had no say over my children but I continued to go along with it because I didn’t want to cause any further distress to my parents.

Tragically my brother suddenly passed away in a car accident. My life collapsed around me. Everything and everyone became irrelevant. He was still studying and I was very close to him.

He was only 22 but very mature for his age. He was aware of my anguish and I remember him telling me that I had great kids and to make sure the girls go to university and that he would always be there for them no matter what.

After the loss of my baby brother, I struggled with depression. My marriage and relationship with my family ended. I realised how short life is and that my destiny was still in my hands as long as I was alive. I came to a refuge in Leeds and stayed there for eight months whilst trying to get better. This time, my family totally disowned me. I felt alone and vulnerable and missed my brother immensely.

(Part 5 continues next month)

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by Sarah Taylor
by Sarah Taylor

Over the past few months I have been spending an increasing amount of time working at a computer, and like so many of us living in these technologically driven time, I am racking up a serious amount of screen time on a daily basis.

But, when one day recently I realised that I had been concentrating so intensely on my work that my focused expression had tipped over into full blown scowling territory, it got me wondering what effect that could potentially have on my face over time, and what other damage my technological dependency could be having on my skin – and ultimately, whether it may be time for digital detox?

It turns out that my concerns were not unfounded, as it would seem that ‘computer-face’, the catch-all term for the collection of problems attributed to excessive use of computers and other digital devices, is indeed a ‘thing’! Now, I’m very fond of expressive faces, and I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know that I would much prefer to earn my lines and wrinkles through laughter, and a life fully lived, than from countless hours spent staring at my laptop screen, or squinting to read the tiny type on my smart phone!

computer-and-glassesAlarmingly, this is not the not the only havoc our tech habits may potentially wreak on our appearance, as in addition to the cumulative effect of scowling or squinting at one screen or another day after day, our heavy use of technology is also being blamed by some dermatologists for contributing to both the early development of jowls, and a phenomena known as ‘tech-neck’ – which is the formation of lines or wrinkles above the collarbone and on the neck caused by straining the head forward or downwards to look at a screen. It’s also worth mentioning that when you’re working in this position, or going a step further and spending hours hunched over a computer (I’m hugely guilty of this!), your breathing is likely to be shallow, particularly if you are working under pressure or in a stressful environment.

Shallow breathing has a two-fold negative impact on your skin. Firstly, it reduces the efficiency of one of the body’s natural detoxification systems, as it is estimated that the lungs expel approximately 70% of all toxins eliminated from the body, and deep breathing assists in this process. Secondly, it can contribute to a dull and lacklustre complexion as breathing air fully into the lungs helps to boost oxygen delivery to cells, giving rise to that healthy glow we all hanker after.

To counteract this try adapting the position in which you use your phone or computer, take regular breaks, try to pay attention to your breathing and frequently stretch your neck muscles. Also, ensure that you moisturise your neck daily (an area which often goes overlooked) and remember to take the product all the way down the neck towards the collarbone.

If the issues I’ve outlined so far aren’t reason enough to perhaps reconsider the way in which we use technology then read on, there’s worse still to come! As in our fast paced, hyper-connected, 24 hour ‘switched on’ society these problems don’t just affect us 9 – 5, they are creeping up on as at night too! This is largely because the blue light emitted by our phones (and other devices) disrupt our natural sleep/wake cycle, leaving us feeling tired (yet wired!) with dark under eye circles, and over time accelerated levels of collagen breakdown caused by the action of the stress hormone cortisol.

Also, those endless phone notifications pinging away at all hours can leave us feeling that we are always on alert, and are constantly operating in reactive mode, which can be interpreted by the body as a stressor. To minimise this try to implement a technology curfew as often as possible, and allow yourself a couple of hours to wind down before going to bed, ideally don’t sleep with your phone near your bed, and switch off all notifications for the night.

If you’re baffled by blemishes or skin rashes your phone or computer could be the culprit. Keyboards and phones can be full of bacteria, which can easily be transferred to the skin of the face, leading to breakouts, so just like make-up brushes, or any other beauty tools used on the face the importance of keeping your phone clean to help maintain skin health cannot be overstated. In the case of skin rashes you could possibly be sensitive to the material in your phone casing, as it may contain nickel, which many people are allergic to.

After reading all that it may be tempting to swear off technology altogether! But, for most of us it has become ingrained in most aspects of our daily lives, and has many positive benefits. It is my opinion that we should be mindful of the potentially detrimental effects that technology could have on our appearance and health, fortunately we can mitigate many of these problems, and most of them quite easily. Now I don’t know about you, but I think I’ll hang on to my digital devices, and do my best to keep my scowling computer face in check!

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Shama Zulqurnain was born on 11 August 1977 at Boundary Park Hospital Oldham.

Raised in a traditional cultural Muslim family, faith was an important factor whilst growing up as her ancestors were from the Dina District of Jhelum, Pakistan. Her father was from Dina and her mother was from Jhelum when they arrived in England as teenagers and eventually married in Oldham. Shama has a unique story. A story of love, hate, betrayal, cultural differences and religious interpretations. This is Shama’s story… (Part 3).

My relationship with my family and parents gradually improved. As I was now a family woman myself, I got financial help from my parents to help with the girls. I was in my parents good books but it wasn’t easy. It was hard being a house wife, a daughter in law and a mother at the same time.

image1 - CopyI wished that I went on to do further higher education and tried to do courses at home but my family did not allow me to pursue it. It felt as though I was married to an entire clan instead of one man. I was constantly told of what to wear and how to raise my daughters. I was told to be a ‘good cultural’ women. I was stuck at home all day and whenever guests came to visit on a regular basis, I was stuck in the kitchen preparing food whilst at the same time looking after my children. At this point, my marriage was going downhill fast. My husband never supported me and his family were becoming more and more unpleasant towards me. I remember running away to my parent’s home when it got difficult, but my parents would always send me back saying there is nothing they could do. I was sent back several times by my parents as the family issues deteriorated quickly. When my husband became violent towards me, I finally gave up and ran away to Oldham.

I got a council house but my parents still disagreed with me knowing very well that my marriage was not healthy. I took a stand and went to college when the girls were at full time nursery. For the first time after a very long time, I felt happy and I had a regular routine where I finished college, picked the girls up, and then went home. I was now making new friends but it felt strange as I was doing my GCSE’s at the age of 23. I was thinking of becoming a teacher as it would fit in with my girl’s school times. Hence, I made my mind up to study and become a teacher.

I was so happy during my time at college until my parents came to me demanding that I go back to my husband. I didn’t want to go as I wanted to carry on at college and take my GCSE’s, A-levels and eventually go to university. But they managed to emotionally blackmail me and they got me back with my husband. All my dreams were crushed… again. My father went down on his knees begging me to get back with my husband. What was I supposed to do seeing my father in this position? After thinking long and hard and realising the shame I had brought upon my parents, I agreed to give my husband another chance. My husband came straight away and moved in with me and girls. I asked if I could carry on with studies, but as expected, no one agreed.

I was back to square one and realised that I will never get an opportunity to complete my studies. I was just a house wife and I was getting pressured by my in-laws and husband to have another baby. They wanted a son and started to come out with comments like ‘I can only give birth to girls.’ I soon began to feel like it was true and it made me feel as though I was worthless. Eventually, I planned to have my third child just to shut them up.

I was praying for my unborn child to be a son to secure me in this family as there was no other way out. Throughout the nine months of my pregnancy, my mother-in-law used to say ‘Oh ALLAH, please give her something good.’ I felt bad because if I give birth to another girl, I would be letting everyone down. As it happened, finally I had given birth to a baby boy. The family suddenly changed and I was treated like a princess, as though I had given birth to a lump of gold. (Part 4 continues next month).

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