Extracts of a recorded conversation with Nasra Parveen who visited us at the Tipton Muslim Community Centre.
My name is Nasra Parveen and I came from Pakistan 23 years ago and I currently live in Tipton.
This picture was taken for my first husband. When we had our daughter my husband asked me to send him our picture, this was my first ever picture in my life. I was very simple and quiet because I barely could hear anything, most of my early life I’ve been deaf.
My life was completely opposite to this picture - it was nothing like this picture. Everyone use to call me 'mental', they use to say things to my parents. My parents arranged for me to be married and when I had my first daughter her father asked me to send him a picture. I went to the studio for the first time in my life, they told me to sit like this and they put lipstick on me too.
When I took this picture I didn’t know anything about the world, I didn’t have a sense what the world is, because I never went out and I couldn’t hear anything - if someone said something I couldn’t answer back because I couldn’t hear anything. That’s how my life was going every day. Then my husband passed away then his cousin married me and eventually I came to this country.
My mother was really upset about the situation after my husband’s death. She used to tell me to think about myself, and she said to me once, 'think about yourself - otherwise all your life you will be here working for your sister-in-laws and they will do the same with your daughter as well'. My sister in laws made me do all the house chores and never treated me well, they use to dislike me because fluid use to leak from my ears.
I remember it was 27th of the month of Ramadan (Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar) and I was very upset because my sister-in-law hurt me a lot that day. I prayed to Allah Help me and the next morning someone asked me to marry him. He was from England. He said he wants to marry me and he has got all the papers ready from me to go back to England with him. But then he said that my daughter can’t go with us at the moment as he doesn’t have papers for her yet. I told him if my daughter can’t go I will not go, he said to me ‘OK’.
He wanted to marry me and he knew I was not mentally ill. God gave me beauty and he has fallen in love with me. So we got married and he went back to England without me so he can get my daughter’s visa. It took three years for my daughter to get a visa to England and then me and my daughter could come here. We are very happy here.
It was when I came here from Pakistan that I found out I had got an ear illness. The doctor checked my ears and diagnosed the illness and then he treated it. I love England I got my life from here.
I chose this photo as it has my little sister in. They went to an art and photography exhibition and they took this picture to send to me. My sister Yasmeen is on the right-hand side wearing brown clothes. Also, my sisters-in-law and my nieces and nephews are in this picture.
I do have a big family, I have seven siblings and I am very close to my sister. I’m not very close to my sisters-in-law because they never supported me, but my sister still does a lot for me. My oldest sister passed away - may Allah give her paradise amen. She did a lot for me. She used to clean my ears and she looked after me very well. My little sister still does a lot for me. Whenever I go to her house she irons my clothes and cleans my shoes. She tells me if it's time to pray because when I take the hearing aids out I can’t hear anything then I’m in my own world. She tells me what’s happening, she cares a lot, Whenever I got to Pakistan it’s just because of my little sister.
This is my youngest son. I have two boys and one daughter. My daughter is married. My oldest son doesn’t really listen to me, he is one of those who are 'no-good children' and he broke my heart. But my youngest son is a very good boy. I told him to do studies and he is at university now, he always calls me and asks if I am ok. Even if I cough he gets really worried and asks me to look after myself. I want him to do a degree and wear a master's gown for me. He is working towards it for me, he always says" "mom, everything will be ok."
And this is my grandson, may Allah keep him happy forever, he is a really good boy. He is no too well. It might be because his parents were cousins, my daughter is married to my sister’s son. That’s why maybe their son doesn’t talk - he is 7 or 8 years old. He only likes eating my food and he mostly just looks at me. He likes nani’s kebab, samosas, rice.
He is very close to me. He is very cute when I look at him he reminds me of God - that's how beautifully he created him. He is really cute, he looks little different in these pictures - if you see him in real life he is very cute.
We just found out has autism we got his blood test done. He seems to be in his own little world mostly, the way I used to be.
This is another photo of my grandson. His name is Hassan and the other one we call Husain. It was a community centre event in Victoria Park, we all went there and my daughter took this picture and brought it here today.
I do like going out with them. Hassan’s school gave us a voucher for the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham so we went there. I really like going out with them, they like me and I like them.
They are my world, my world is very small I only have two boys and one girl and two grandchildren - that’s all. We don’t have any other family members in this country - they all live in Pakistan. Of all of my siblings, I am the only one who came here.
This is me with my youngest son after he came back after reading Eid prayers. It was Eid Ul Fitar this year. I do have a beautiful relationship with my son, he respects me a lot and loves me and I love him.
When I had my first daughter and my husband passed away my sister-in-law ( may Allah give her paradise) said to me that "you have only a daughter and you going to live with it" and she taunted me that I will never have a son. But then Allah gave me my son I was really happy - I prayed and thanked God that I have sons as well. One of my sons is nothing like I was expected - he broke my heart - but this son here, he loves me a lot and thanks to my Lord for it. I don’t want to talk too much about them I don’t want them to get the evil eye.*
I think I was 22 or 23 years old in this picture. My husband had asked me to get a passport so my brother-in-law Hafiz took me to the studio to get it one. The big difference being here in England to being back in Pakistan is that here I have to do everything by myself. My husband had six other children from his first wife, I was the second wife of my late husband. The children were from a white British woman and they kept themselves to themselves but they respected me a lot and I loved them dearly too.
Slowly I tried to adjust to being here. I was pregnant and I didn’t even know I was pregnant. I was very naïve. Then I thought "ok good" and time passed and it was a good time. My husband looked after me well, he loved my daughter a lot. Then Allah ( God) gave us son and we got busy with life and I forgot about my previous life. My life improved and my sister-in-law started liking me too. My sisters always loved me anyway. I have got one pain in my heart and it's that my mother did not see any of my happiness before she died. My father passed away when we were young so we only had our mother. I wish my mother saw my happiness, I wish she saw my sons.
I thank God since I came to England my life has changed and in a good way.
I always pray for England from bottom of my heart, when I go to the doctors or come here to the centre, I am very thankful for all the facilities. Since I had my hearing aid my life has changed - I always pray for all the people who helped me to get to this stage.
I gave thanks to God when I heard for the first time. It took me quite a few weeks to become adjusted to hearing voices. It seemed like voices were coming from everywhere and my head my spinning, but then it was good. Now I have this hearing aid this is my life. I really I am used to it now, I can now do jokes with my family. Now that I can hear no one can say anything about me.
*The evil eye is the name for a sickness or misfortune transmitted, usually with or without intention, by someone who is envious, jealous, and covetous.
This interview was originally recorded in Punjabi and translated into English by our project worker Saima.