real life story of maimoona zuberi abu dhabi hissah ec

Tell me a bit about yourself. What do you want the world to know about YOU?

My name is Maimoona Zuberi. I am 86 years old. When I was around 3 years old, my father passed away. My mother was left with 4 children – 2 boys and 2 girls. We were raised by my mother in India, before the creation of Pakistan. I left my home in India and came to Pakistan with my family when I was 11 years old. At the time of the Partition, we went through many hardships. All the Muslims fleeing India had to stay in the Red Fort where we had no food or water for many days. When we came to Pakistan, as a teenager I joined the National Guard as a Girl Scout Guide. As soon as I finished the 10th grade, I got married at the age of 18 in 1954. I had my first daughter 2 years later, and she was born a stillborn child. I then had 2 more daughters in the following years. I lived most of my married life in Karachi, we moved to Lahore for 3-4 years in the middle. In the war of 1965 between India and Pakistan, we were living in Lahore which was the hub of all war activities. We used to hide under the beds when there would be shelling or bomb explosions. My sister in law was visiting us from India at that time and she got stuck in Pakistan while her 9 children were in India! It was a time I will never forget.

My husband and I, with my 2 daughters, moved to Kuwait in 1971. We lived there for 17 years, making many good friends and many great memories. In 1990, when the Gulf War broke out – we left back for Pakistan. So, I have lived through 3 active wars. In 1999, I had a hysterectomy during which due to some mismanaged anesthesia I suffered a stroke during surgery. The left side of my body got effected. The effects of this slowly got worse over the years until I reached a point of immobility. In 2004, my husband passed away. Now, I have a feeding tube placed in my stomach and I need assistance in everything I do, despite that I remain positive and interested in everything around me!

Describe a typical day in your life.

I wake up at 5am. I get my feed and then I have to sit for 1 hour after that. I try to say my prayers – whatever I remember. My memory is also fading. Sometimes I have a lot of clarity, and sometimes I don’t know where I am. I sleep again and wake up at 9am after which every alternate day I get a bath which my attendant and daughter assist me. My physiotherapist comes twice a week as well. Every day I also speak to my daughter who lives in Kuwait via video call and my great-grandson also. Over the day, I get 5 feeds in a day via my feeding tube. My daughter and son-in-law keep me engaged throughout the day and always make sure to stay around me and give me company. I love to have visitors. At times, I sit on my wheelchair in the lounge or at the table with guests when they come to visit.

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced during your journey to where you are today?

My biggest challenge I have faced in life would be adjusting to life after the stroke. My whole life I was known among my entire extended family for being the most active, the most quick at my work, most efficient and proper. I didn’t like to sit in one place for too long. Now, being mainly bed ridden and dependent on others – it takes a great amount of patience, faith, and positive thinking to be able to live life to the best of my ability.

Who would you describe as a role model and why?

Role model…hmmm. Yes, many people have them but I can’t think of any person I would call my role model. Each person is unique.

Tell us one thing about you that most people don’t know.

In my time, I could whip up a meal for 100 people with the snap of a finger! I was really quick in the kitchen. One thing most people don’t know is once I had hosted a party for around 80 plus women and one of my friends had offered to bring the dessert so I wasn’t worried about it! When she arrived, she had brought a small dish of sweets which would barely be enough for 10 people! Without a word, in my fancy party clothes, I went straight into the kitchen as the guests were gathering in my living room, and made the dough for a delicacy we call “gulab jamun”. In a giant pot I made syrup, in another giant pot I fried the dough balls. Without the guests even noticing, I whipped up a fancy dessert for 80 people in a matter of minutes!

What is one piece of advice about how to cope with challenges/struggles you face in life that you would like to give to the world?

Keep your relationships strong. Your family is everything and keep those bonds with everyone – including extended family and friends. Stay patient and positive. Forgive others. Always look for the good in people.

What is ONE word that you feel defines you? (It could be your profession, a personality trait, or a quality you possess).

Gentle and Patient