Sunday, January 17, 2021

Obituary of Zarin Musharraf (1919-2021): A Long Life Well-Lived

Obituary By Dr. Naved Musharraf

A Tribute to my mother (Mrs. Zarin Musharraf)

After orbiting the sun 102 times, Ammi’s long and glorious journey of life has come to end. I was fortunate enough to be with her in Dubai, to bid her farewell. She passed away peacefully in her sleep, January 15, 2021 at about 5:30 pm. 

Mrs. Zarin Musharraf with Mr. Musharrafuddin, a career diplomat in Pakistan Foreign Service

Longevity is one thing but quality of life is what really matters. In this respect, she was truly blessed. All through her life she had excellent health and never took any medicines. She had a full life and the means to enjoy all the good things it offered. Much credit goes to my grand father Qazi Fazle Ilahi, a man with a modern outlook on life. He rejected the prevalent societal norms of keeping our womenfolk in purdah (veil). A few that did were rebuked by likes of Akbar Ilahabadi who famously said: 

بے پردہ نظر آئیں جو کل چند بی بی یاں اکبر زمیں میں غیرتِ قومی سے گڑ کیا
 پوچھا جو میں نے آپ کا وہ پردہ کیا ہوا کہنے لگیں کہ عقل پہ مردوں کے پڑ گیا 

On she went to acquire higher education, doing MA previous from Lucknow University. Armed with modern education, she and Nuri Khala were the ‘bold and beautiful’,so to speak, and confident enough to chart their own life. 

After her marriage, ours was a matriarchal household. At least, that’s what I felt as I was growing up. Abba usually was the second fiddle. She ran the household with a firm hand while also being a professional woman and raising three children. Quite a task. But she fulfilled these dual roles admirably. 

She had a strong work ethic and loved working. She taught herself shorthand and typing which were important skills at the time. Our years in Turkey was a life altering event. Travel and a new culture, liberal one that Turkey was, broadened our horizons. She was at her prime of life. 

There was lot of partying, ballroom dancing, hunting trips and picnics and of course music which was her passion. Songs that she loved to sing on the harmonium, which stand out in my mind, are Barso Re from Tan Sen and all the Awara songs. 

The process continued when we came back to Islamabad where the annual New Years party was the event which brought our family together. What great memories of that era in Naghmazar. 

This is a mournful day no doubt. But let us celebrate her life. A life well-lived and all the great memories she left behind. She lived long enough to see her grandchildren growing up and their children too. What a wonderful life. 

Note: This post's author is Dr. Naved Musharraf, MD, Mrs. Zareen Musharraf's son and former Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf's brother. Dr. Musharraf is a retired anesthesiologist in Chicago, IL. He graduated from King Edward Medical College Lahore in 1972.

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