Inspired by Max Adam’s original work, Unquiet Women, through this series, Dr Hafsa Ahmed aims to share the stories of remarkable women who immigrated to New Zealand. These stories are rarely told, but each is unique. Hafsa hopes these stories will bring Asia closer to New Zealand by allowing us to see through the eyes of others and connect.
In the second piece of the Unquiet Women series, she shares the story of teacher Fariya Naseem.
“Being loved deeply by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage” – this quote from famous Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu is how Fariya Naseem describes his trip to Aotearoa.
Fariya, born in Bhopal, India, came to Aotearoa to pursue a professional qualification in teaching and learning at the University of Canterbury. It was an important decision for her to come here, but it was important – it wasn’t just about building a future for her son whom she loved deeply. It was also about challenging oneself to pursue the unthinkable for an Indian woman who had the best of everything in India. So I asked her why she had continued on this daring journey – coming to a new country without a family, leaving behind a six-year-old son and a supportive husband.
Fariya shares the puzzles she faced in India. At 21, while continuing her engineering studies, she was married to an Indian army officer. She was constantly moving around the country with her husband, so she could not develop her planned career. Surrounded by name, power and stereotypes, she could be anyone other than herself.
However, Fariya had a deep love for the pursuit of knowledge, which meant that she continued to learn. People in her inner circles teased her, saying, “Are you going to collect all these diplomas / certificates and post them on the wall?” Or “are you going to take a file and stack all your diplomas / certificates?” But that didn’t deter her – she persevered.
Fariya’s love for books also gave her insight, as she approached each book as a conversation. “I would try to have conversations with these authors and try to listen to what they would do s ‘they were stuck like me. “
Blocked? If you think she felt stuck in her marriage, let me stop you there – it sure wasn’t it. It was the emptiness she felt in her life and the interactions with the people around her, many of whom were driven by ego, status and flaunt.
What worried him the most was this thought “so finally, after these many years, there was a moment when I realized that in fact my son is five years old now and soon he will be part of this company and he will. will think that’s the way it should be. “
Her inner voice began to tell her “that there was no more of me in me” and she constantly felt that her real self was diminished by the expectations of society. This worried Fariya more and more every day. She started having serious health issues and knew she had to do something, so she spoke to her husband, who supported her decision to move out.
With her life in two suitcases, Fariya chose a place where no one knew her: Ōtautahi, New Zealand.
I ask her why New Zealand, she replies “New Zealand was something that resonated more in my heart and I loved the way things were described about the city, the people and the culture.”
But before boarding this flight to cover more than 10,000 kilometers, she had to convince her mother to take care of her son. She remembers saying goodbye at the airport and saying to herself “am I doing the right thing?” “
But deep down, she knew she was making the right move.
Fariya left India and came to New Zealand with only two nights’ accommodation booked – “it was the bravest or dumbest thing I have ever done”. But the kindness of New Zealanders flows in and she quickly finds accommodation.
Fariya was on a mission – a mission to change her future. It wasn’t easy, but she was determined not to look back and stay strong.
“Staying strong doesn’t mean the absence of fear. I was scared but I decided not to give up, ”she says.
In India, she had all the luxuries of life – a maid, a butler, a driver and a gardener. However, in New Zealand she had to work to survive. Fariya’s day would be busy studying for her class at the University of Canterbury and in the evenings working in a supermarket. She worked late at night, sometimes having to wipe up the vomit of drunken customers. They were uncomfortable experiences, but she believes each of them has shaped her life today.
Returning home around midnight, tired and alone, she would stop to gaze at the night sky and have deeper conversations with the divine. She describes this time as precious moments of awakening. It was then that she learned about purpose, existence and presence.
After a few months, her husband and son visited her. Both Fariya and her husband decided that their son would stay with her in New Zealand.
She proudly describes her days of wrestling with her son saying, “I finished my course and I was now applying for jobs. We had very limited resources and I was not able to buy all of these expensive fruits for my son, so we would go to the university garden to pick fruits. We both knew what this meant to us. We were going to pick fruit. Take a good walk and collect rocks just to paint.
Within months, Fariya found her first job as a teacher and things have changed for the better.
She loves to teach. It aims to make its students excel in studies and cultivate good values. In addition, her journey inspired Fariya to become a life coach. She helps people overcome their fears and pursue their dreams. She encourages people to develop their resilience and gratitude. Fariya loves the beauty of New Zealand – the birds, the trees, the clear blue sky and most of all “the people who accept you for who you are”.
I asked Fariya, does she feel at home? She says “I have two houses”. She carries in her heart the love of her two countries, India and New Zealand.
“I am a bridge to these two places. I am a bridge that connects New Zealand to India and the bridge that brings my culture to this place. “
– Asia Media Center