It is a societal norm in many places including Kashmir for women to quit studies after marriage and devote time to looking after the family.
Bilkeesa Banoo (name changed on request) from a Kupwara village, however, challenged the norm and emerged as an inspiration for many women who want to continue their studies.
This year, Bilkeesa appeared in the class 10th board exams as a private candidate and got the highest marks to secure the top rank. Taking care of her three little kids and managing time for her studies has been an uphill task but she was adamant on not giving up, she says.
Married nine years back in 2013, Bilkeesa had no idea that she would continue her studies. Having passed her class 09 in 2012, the only one thing in her mind was to take care of family, she says.
She thought that was her destiny. But after years, she made up her mind to appear in the Boards. It wasn’t easy, she thought, given the weight of responsibility on her shoulders including taking care of the kids and looking after her home. But her in-laws and family members supported her.
“I had no idea that I would be able to pick books and sit in exams after all these years. It seemed impossible to me,” she told .
“When I began my preparations, I thought I was wasting my time since I wasn’t able to retain what I was studying. Steadily, however, I was able to grasp some concepts and that boosted my confidence,” says Bilkeesa. “I wrote all the five papers and I was very hopeful of good grades ” she further added, “My passing out is a message to all the women that they do not have to give up on their dreams after marriage. We can continue pursuing dreams even after we are wedded. I am very thankful to everyone including family, in-laws, and some friends who encouraged me”.
Bilkeesa’s in-laws are overjoyed as she has scored 467 Marks out of 500 making it 93.4 percent in the result that was declared yesterday. She also has A1 grades in 04 of 05 Subjects including Maths, Urdu, Science, and Social Science.
Bilkeesa has three children including two daughters and a son. Her eldest daughter is eight years old and studies in second class.
“Bilkeesa is young and she is intelligent since childhood. We encouraged her to appear in the exams because we were confident she could do it,” says Bilkeesa’s school friend.
“We are very proud that she has emerged as the topper in the Board exam. She has set an example for the women who are unable to continue studies after marriage. One can continue or resume their studies at any age. Nothing is impossible,” the friend said.
Pertinently, as many as 25078 candidates appeared in the board exam, this year. As per the figures available at JK BOSE gazette, only 8934 could pass making the pass percentage 35.62%.