Waseema Sheikh: The journey of a Muslim girl from a Slum to Deputy Collector

 (Dr. Shujaat Ali Quadri)


“Because of suffering, if you consider birth to be a misfortune and your body as a curse written on your forehead, listen, only the sweat on your forehead will remove that misfortune line.”  These lines, written in the famous book ‘Messiah’ by Khaleel Gibran, have been brought into reality by Wasima Sheikh, a resident of Nanded, Maharashtra.

Living in a slum, Wasima has made her fortune through sheer perseverance and hard work, and has reached the heights of success from where things like misfortune, curse and poverty seem dwarfed.

Wasima Sheikh has become the Deputy Collector by securing the third rank in the Maharashtra Public Service Commission examination.

Wasima Sheikh lives with her family in Joshi Sanghvi village of Nanded district.  Since her birth, her father’s mental condition was not good. The cost of the treatment of four sisters, two brothers and ailing father had fallen on the mother Salima’s alone responsibility.

Wasima’s mother first worked in the fields to feed the family members. After this, going from house to house in the village, she started selling the bangles. Seeing the financial condition of the house and the education of the younger siblings, Wasima’s elder brother Sheikh Imam left his studies and went to Pune to drive an auto rickshaw, so that the family’s needs could be met.

Wasima tells that her mother used to work in the farms on daily wages to meet the household expenses. Regarding her education, Wasima told that she has studied from first to fifth class in Marathi medium from the primary school of her village. After this, she studied till the eighth class in the village’s Bal Brahmachari Vairagi Maharaj Secondary School. Wasima tells an anecdote during her secondary education that she did not have the money to pay Rs 350 for the school fees of class 10th, so it was paid by the father of one of her friends.

Wasima tells that her friend’s father, seeing her dedication and hard work, paid the fees and inspired her to study. He also visited Wasima’s house and told the family members that Wasima was very good in studies urging them to co-operate with her education, which gave her a lot of encouragement and she studied hard, and got the first rank by scoring 82 percent marks in 10th examination. During her 12th studies, Wasima worked harder and got 95% marks.

Wasima did her BA from YCMOU University. For her studies, Wasima used to walk to a village named Joshi Sakhvi, about 5 km from Nanded, because there was no good college in her locality. She has also qualified B.P.Ed to become a primary teacher. Wasima says, “I had completed BA and B.P.Ed in 2015. But the the success stories of civil service officers, inspired me which resulted in my desire to become an civil officer.” Wasima started preparing for civil services from 2016. She also got her first success and she was elected as Sales Tax Inspector in 2018. After this job, the poverty of Wasima’s family gradually started to go away. But even after becoming a sales tax inspector, Wasima did not stop but continued her preparation for the civil service. She got the biggest success in 2020 when she secured the third rank in the Maharashtra Civil Services Examination and became the Deputy Collector.

Wasima gives all the credits to her mother and brother for her success. She said that if they had not helped her she might not have reached this stage.

Her elder brother Sheikh Imam is very happy on this success. She says that her sister was very intelligent in studies as she scored higher percentage in 10th and 12th board exams. “After that we encouraged her to study further. I am very happy that she got 3rd rank in Maharashtra Civil Service,” She added. Recalling her days of poverty, she says that seeing the condition of the house, she left her studies and started driving an auto to take full responsibility of the house. Actually, Wasima’s brother also wanted to become an officer, but due to financial constraints, he left studies and started driving auto. Wasima’s mother, Salima, says that she labored in the farms to feed the children and also earned from selling the bangles. Giving a message to the society, she said that no one should discriminate between son and daughter.

Due to poverty and misery, some people get tired and start considering life as dark. But if we understand it in the words of Khalil Gibran – “Life is indeed darkness save when there is urge, and all urge is blind save when there is knowledge, and all knowledge is vain save when there is work, and all work is empty save when there is love.”

Education and sincere hard work can shape the fate of any person. Wasima says that if you want to achieve success in life and have the passion to become something, then rich or poor does not matter. The only condition is that you have to keep working hard with honesty.  She said that what does poverty mean, she has found this answer well in her family. But poverty does not come in the way of achieving success, if hard work is done in the right direction. Wasima is married and her husband Haider Sheikh is also preparing for Maharashtra Public Service Commission.


(The writer is a freelance Journalist and chairman of Muslim Students Organization of India)

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