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.
I 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)