NABEEL ANWAR DHAKKU
CHAKWAL: A 16-year-old girl from a gypsy family in Thaneel Fatohi has obtained 1,004 marks in her matriculation exams, the results of which were announced recently.
Nargis Gul lives in a two room makeshift home with her mother, siblings, aunt, uncles and grandmother. The family of fourteen makes a living selling bangles.
Nargis belongs to a gypsy family which has been living in Thaneel Fatohi for over a hundred years. The matriarch of the family, Farzand Bibi says her two daughters Aasia and Shazia are
divorced and live with their children in the two makeshift rooms in the courtyard of her sons’ compounds.
No one from her family has gotten an education, Farzand Bibi tells Dawn, and that they have high hopes for Nargis and her cousins Aakash Hassan and Aqsa Bibi.
“Nargis wanted to go to school and I let her as the school is right next to where we live. That is why I did not take her with me to sell bangles in the village,” says Nargis’ mother, Aasia bibi.
Following in her footsteps, Nargis’s cousins Aakash and Aqsa also insisted on going to school. Aqsa now studies in the eighth grade.
Aakash secured 790 marks in his matriculation exams and wants to be an “officer” while Nargis dreams of being a doctor.
The family could not afford to send the three children to school and had to take money from villagers to be able to pay for education expenses.
One of the villagers, Haji Qasim, promised to sponsor Nargis’ education as he thought she was the brightest child in the village and has till now lived by his promise.
“We live from hand to mouth and until six years ago, we all lived in a makeshift house as we could not afford one built of bricks and concrete,” Farzand Bibi said, She said the family had built two rooms for her sons after taking loans from various villagers.
Many people have visited the family since news of Nargis’ brilliant result has spread. A leading industrialist in Chakwal, Qazi Ghulam Akbar, has promised to sponsor Nargis’ education while another local said he will build the family a proper house.
“We do need a proper house because it is difficult for me to continue with my studies in our makeshift house. My books get wet when it rains,” said Nargis.
The principle of Sufa College in Chakwal, Chaudhry Waheed Mumtaz gave free admission to Nargis, where she will be studying towards and F.Sc in Medical Science.
Her cousins, on the other hand, need support from the government in order to continue with their studies.
“I appeal to the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to help us,” Nargis said.
Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2016