Aziza Emranali
was born in a small town in India and grew up in an unremarkable Muslim family which did not educate their women. Being the youngest child, she escaped the fate of her older sisters who were not sent to school. She started school at the age of eleven and finished her senior Cambridge at sixteen, with a distinction in most subjects, and speaking, reading and writing four languages.

She was married at seventeen, had my brother at eighteen and myself at nineteen and by the the time she was twenty, her course in life was set, and yet… she had only just begun.

Deprived of most choices , she endured a turbulent marriage and brought us children up with an astonishing amount of open mindedness and love and support through financial hardships and emotional uncertainties. All three of us children were educated in private schools and able to attend university. This in the west may not sound much, but in the India of my youth, it was phenomenal.

She kept us as a family together through migration to Australia and, having come here at the age of sixty, she took driving lessons, bought a car and gained the independence that she always desired.

Her last gift to me was spending the final months of her life with me, teaching me one of the most important lessons I have been taught. She showed me how to die with grace, not needing anything of anyone till her last breath, her presence as light as a feather. And still the love keeps flowing.

~ Sultana Shamsi