Srinagar: When Rehana Bashir secured admission in Kashmir’s prestigious Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS), her dream came true. Over the next few years in Srinagar, the girl from Salwah village in Mendhar region of Poonch district got increasingly comfortable with the idea of being a doctor.
However, it was while interning at the Government Medical College in Jammu that Rehana felt there was so much more she could do. Three years on, she has become the first woman from Poonch to qualify for the coveted Indian Administrative Services (IAS). Her brother, Aamir Bashir, had qualified for the IAS last year.
“My brother was preparing for the civil services exam, and he would often tell me to do the same, but I wasn’t motivated enough,” said Rehana, who ranked 87.
“It was during my internship that I made up my mind. It was the circumstances that made me realise that there is so much more a person can do, especially in the health sector. That is what I plan to do,” Rehana told ThePrint.
Rehana and Aamir’s father Mohammad Bashir passed away in 2006, when they were 14 and 13 years old respectively. The siblings then made a pledge that they would do something their parents would be proud of.
Mother Parveen Akhtar was a major influence, and perhaps the only pillar of support for the teenagers.
The senior Bashir was a mechanic in the state forest corporation in Poonch, but the one thing that he wanted to give his children was the best education possible. His death of an ailment at the age of 45 meant that Parveen, who worked in the agriculture department, found a new cause.
She ensured that the children got every chance to do what their late father wanted them to do — Aamir went on to study engineering at a Jammu college, while Rehana studied medicine at the SKIMS.
“My husband and I came from a humble background. I raised my children keeping in mind this fact. When they were growing up, all they wanted to do was study. They never thought of partying or doing things that other kids of their age do. They would study together and I think it is this bond my children share, which gave them the power to strive and pull through the harshest of times,” she said.
“I don’t think I have enough words to explain how proud I am of Rehana. I have no doubt that my daughter will serve her state, her community and the government to the best of her abilities. But I want to see all of it happen in front of my eyes. I want to see Rehana in her office — that is when I will know that the dream my late husband and I had seen has come true,” Parveen said.
‘Struggle not over yet’
Rehana calls the years she spent in Srinagar and SKIMS the “best years” of her life. But her 13-year struggle to live up to the pledge she and her brother made is far from over.
“I wanted to work in the health sector, but now that I am in the services, I think there are so many areas one can work on,” Rehana said. “Now, I am all about the services and all I want to do is serve the people.”
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