Monday, October 17 2016, 07:30:50
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Lavanya Bahuguna


JWB Congratulates Pakistani Hindu Mashal For Securing Admission In Jaipur Medical College

  • JWB Post
  •  October 7, 2016


UPDATE: Some time ago Sushma Swaraj promised to offer the placement in a college to Mashal Maheshwari, a meritorious girl from Pakistan who lives in Jaipur now. Mashal wanted to be a doctor, but the fact that she’d come from Pakistan was a hurdle for her endeavors.

Ms. Swaraj had heard her story. When Ms. Swaraj’s help and Mashal’s dedication came together, she finally got to appear for a common medical exam. She’s now got admitted to SMS Medical College, Jaipur. Read her story that JWB covered a few months ago.

For the last two days, India is reading about the news of Jaipur’s Mashal Maheshwari and her aspirations to become a Doctor. The girl in her late teens is a ‘Pakistani Hindu,’ as she happily announces it.

Mashal’s family migrated from Hyderabad in Pakistan’s Sindh province two years ago to Jaipur in a quest to shape a better future. Sadly, Mashal has been denied the seat in almost every medical college of her choice because she is yet to receive her Indian citizenship/identity. Good news, the moment her story went online, none other than Minister of External Affairs of India, Sushma Swaraj, came forward to help her.

When we met this bright girl, we knew exactly what we wanted to know about her life.

Does she miss Pakistan and her friends there?

What are her dreams?

What does she love doing when she is not preparing for medicine?

Below is our conversation with Mashal and her mother, Dr. Nirmala, who joined us for an hour-long chat over chilled nimbu-paani.

JWB: What made you move to India? Leaving one’s home is not an easy task, after all.

Dr. Nirmala: It was the toughest decision of our lives. My husband (a practicing Doctor) and I began to worry about our three kids’ future. We wanted to have them taste the Indian culture; at that, secure them from the deteriorating living conditions. Receiving death threats is a common phenomenon, and we couldn’t escape that. As parents, we didn’t want to take any kind of risk.

L to R: Mashal & her mother, Dr. Nirmala

JWB: Mashal, don’t you miss the life there?

Mashal: I do. Most importantly, I miss my friends and cousins. I miss attending the classes and later going for the tuitions with my buddies.

JWB: Talking about your school life, is the life really miserable for girls who go to school?

L to R: Mashal & her mother, Dr. Nirmala

Mashal: If to speak about the place where we lived, no. At school, we were not questioned if we were Hindus or Muslims. Nobody selected friends based on one’s caste. The dress-code wasn’t strict. Covering the head wasn’t necessary for me. I roamed around freely in my pair of jeans and tee-shirts, and nobody said anything. But to pursue the higher education, I was supposed to move out of the house which didn’t seem right to my parents.

Dr. Nirmala: What you’re talking about happens in the acute interiors of Pakistan. The girls are, in fact, shot dead if they want to study or advance career-wise. Extremists rule those places. I remember, once we were traveling to a place like this and we had to change our names. For that one day, I turned into Nirma and my husband was renamed as Ashfaq.

L to R: Mashal & her mother, Dr. Nirmala

JWB: Tell us more about your home in Pakistan.

Dr. Nirmala: It is a small village in Hyderabad where most of the residents are Hindus. It’s scenic beauty. We remember celebrating every festival peacefully – be it a Diwali or Eid or Christmas. Our neighbors were our relatives, and so, we never felt bored or out of place. Most of them are still living there happily. Our ancestors were six brothers. During the 1947 partition, three of them stayed in India, while the other three got placed on the other side. Ours is a very educated family. My father was a Sr. Engineer in Pakistan.

Dr. Nirmala

JWB: And how’s the life in Rajasthan?

Dr. Nirmala (smiles): We are not allowed to move out of Jaipur until we get our IDs. Two years have passed by; that means two summer vacations. But we couldn’t go anywhere. Honestly, it took us a little longer than we expected to adjust here. We received cold shoulders from people that made the task difficult. We never hid our identities from anyone, so when we were house-hunting, landlords wouldn’t listen to us after we revealed to them we’re from Pakistan. Finding a home in Jaipur was a struggle and so was registering our kids into schools. Thankfully, my sister who migrated to Jaipur some ten years ago helped us a lot.

Mashal: It’s funny how people have these terrorizing expressions on their faces when they get to know we are from Pakistan. BTW, I miss speaking our Thari language here *laughs*


JWB: Thari?

Mashal: It’s got its name from the Desert Thar and it’s a mix of Marwari, Sindhi, and Punjabi.

JWB: Ha-ha! What else?

Mashal: Oh, my younger sister terribly misses the food. The chola-tikki and biryani in Pakistan were AWESOME! However, I love the kind of masalas we use here. After all, Rajasthan is known for its spices and I am totally in love with this place.

JWB: Have you made friends here?

Mashal: A few.

JWB: And by the way, what do you think about all the positive attention that you’re receiving these days?

L to R: Mashal & her mother, Dr. Nirmala

Mashal: I only hope that this attention turns to my bright future, and in turn, helps thousands of children like me. Just because we have lived on the other side of the border, our dreams shouldn’t be rejected. Also, I have a message for the people who’re trolling me online. Comments like “Send this Pakistani back” and “She doesn’t deserve this. Focus on the underprivileged ones” are sad. Talent and dreams know no nationality.

In life, you face all sorts of challenges. It solely depends on you what you’re willing to put at stake to overcome them and restart a new journey. How Mashal’s family and other families like hers might have felt while leaving their homes behind is explainable. Nevertheless, this pain can be lessened if we become compassionate towards them and welcome them with open arms. Shall we?

PS: We, at JWB, admire the way Dr. Nirmala and her husband are taking constant brave steps. When Nirmala told us that the couple has decided not to accept an American scholarship for Mashal because of the fear of being targeted, we couldn’t do anything but empathize with them. We completely understand the worry for their child.



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