October 23, 2013

Ami Jee! You live on

Ester Naziran Sharaf

Today is the 30th death anniversary of Ami Jee, whose struggle and vision is reflected in the children she left behind.

In 1960, Ester Naziran Sharaf at 35 lost her husband Lal Din Sharaf Sargodhavi with the eldest child not yet completed high school.  Today I see her standing next to Abba Jee’s casket with my younger sister in her lap, gazing into his face as if to say, ‘why have you abandoned me’? I also see the Mundiya Sialkotia with a mole on his cheek lying in peace with his characteristic smile saying, ‘You were the woman behind me. You will do it’.

As days of grief and sorrow faded into a relentless struggle for her children, the tears gave way to a charade of sparkling stars that would make any parent proud. My mother did it by grooming architects, soldiers, management experts, lawyers and inventors. My only regret is that she passed away early, without witnessing the laurels that would adorn her children. She never lived long enough to see what her grandkids would become.

But then she has been with us all these years in our hearts and minds, and always a solace in defining moments. She taught us to be persevering in life, humble in success and honest in failure. She imbued in us a fighting spirit that became synonymous with the Sharaf Clan.

It was at this time and day in 1983 that I got the fateful message. A Captain in School of Infantry and Tactics, I was near Pishin with my officer students on a tactical exercise without troops. My syndicate had been chosen for a visit by General Zia ul Haq, the then COAS. With adrenaline running high, I was waiting for his appearance. Then Lt Colonel Sher Afsar our Chief Instructor came over and asked me to rush to Quetta. In Quetta I learnt that Ami Jee was no more. Getting out of Quetta in those days was difficult. We flew to Karachi and were besides her body the next morning.

There she was with the world around her. People of Lahore Cantt loved her and they were all there; rich, poor, Muslims, Christians and thousands of admirers we never knew. Her funeral service in St. Joseph’s church was over crowded. Father Nathaniel, the Belgian Parish priest sobbed through his homily. He said that when he saw the young widow with 8 children he anticipated a tough life for her, but this lady of substance beat all odds to become the most accomplished family in the parish. Then he broke into tears and so did the entire congregation.

The experience of life with a mother through its private moments cannot be shared but yet can be reflected through how we behave in life. We all brothers and sisters and our children have been blessed by these traits. We have spread all over the world and by God’s Grace the third generation has moved much beyond we could think 53-30 years ago.

This is not only our own but every Pakistani’s little success story.


My Mother a Rose
By Sue Horley

A rose so rare,
one of it’s kind, 
love and beauty a mother,
A rose without thorns,
not a petal was torn,
a perfect rose stood straight and tall,
my mother was the most precious of all.
A rose that survived the worst kind of weather and yet the most delicate ever,
a rose with a fragrance,
there could be know other,
you see this rose is my Mother.
A rose is picked and put to dry,
the beauty is still there,
it never dies.

Ester Naziran Sharaf



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