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. Urban Echo will tell her story over the few months. This is Shama’s story…
“My name is Shama. I have 2 brothers older than me and a younger brother who tragically died in car crash. I was the only daughter in the family and as a young girl, I was treated differently from my brothers. I was restricted as to what I could or couldn’t do. I feared my mother a great deal as she was very controlling and expected me to be perfect. I could never make any mistakes. On the other hand, my father was a gentle and kind man, but he was very much into his culture and ordered my mother as to how he wanted me to be.
“My little brother was my joy and babysitting him was some kind of healing. He was a well behaved little boy. I loved school because going to school was like getting away from chores and getting shouted at constantly. I had a lot on my mind but I never showed my feelings. I wasn’t the brightest in school but I loved playing sports as I grew up with boys.
“Things got worse when I started secondary school. My brothers would spy on everything I did whether I’d go out for dinner or sit on the top floor of the bus. They would report me and my mother would start to abuse me. I was ambitious and wanted to become something in my life but deep-down I knew that my family had already made plans for me to be a traditional ‘good Muslim girl’ who would eventually become a good house wife and an obedient daughter-in-law.
They wanted me to marry a Pakistani man from ‘back home’ so I that I didn’t lose my roots. I was scared to fight it and never spoke to anyone about it. I just accepted it as my destiny.
At the age of 14, I got caught by the police for theft. I stole some things because I couldn’t afford my PE kit as my family wouldn’t allow me participate. This resulted in me being flown to Pakistan for a few months with my great grandma. After a few months, my father came to take us back to the UK. After arriving back, I was not allowed to go back to school and all my dreams were crushed. I cried for months as my school friends regularly came knocking on the door to ask where I was. My mum told them that I was in Pakistan not coming back. I was indoors for 2 years until I turned 16 so no one would spot me and report it to the school. I suffered in silence.
Continued next month…