Waseema Azfar

“Well my early life was that I was one of nine, and it was a very, very busy house I lived in. But when I was born, four of…three of my older two brothers and a sister were already married. They had the children, nephews and nieces as old as me, even older than me, so it was a big, big family, put it that way. Then when I came here I was so lonely (laughs). You can imagine, coming out of a big family, then being by yourself. Although his mother and his brother was here, then…y’know, but his brother was studying and the mother came just to visit. For me it was, to be somebody with me and she stayed until my first child was born and then she went back home, in ’63. So, since then, (just) me and my husband (laughs)….

Been to school; been to college – Lahore College, and then I became a teacher and did some work there for about 3 years.

I taught in Middle School, they call it Middle School there, but it’s 11 plus…I’ve been teaching English and Maths…that’s it, and Islamic Studies, three subjects I taught. And then I got married and came over here…”


Sufia Choudhury

“My name is Sufia Choudhury, I (was) born in Bangladesh and…17th October 1954. In Bangladesh – Sylhet. …I have 5 sisters and 3 brothers…it was a middle-class family…he worked very hard for us…I went to school and as soon..1973…marriage, I liked the proposal he sent…and at that time I was in A level, in Bangladesh, like Intermediate Class…I wasn’t ready for it but I had no choice…

…then I did my exam and on 23rd January I got married and at that time I was 18 and a half. 18 years, 6 months, something like that. …the subject was English, Maths and Social and Islamic Study…I forgot…it’s like…it’s not specific… General Studies, yes. …That’s why I was quite happy in my life, even though…yeah, even though I got married.

I enjoyed my school life, my college life. Everything, yeah, we played outside. It’s not like the new generation, they play (with) the computer; we didn’t have anything like that…we played outside…running around…running. Hopscotch, you know that?…And we played marbles, we played with marbles, things like that we did enjoy. Really missing them.”


Mazhar Hussain

“…so this is how the Aryan family from Sind to Punjab Rai. So my family, half is also Rai. My family, I know from…heard about the…great grandfather, about him…than more about my grandfather. Then of course my father and my uncle and my aunts and things. They were in Kapurthala…land was in their command and their control. A village, I say village… but people were living, maybe people still live, in villages. They modernise now…not what villages (were) I know of. I used to go to my…family village quite regularly when I was a child… and…that’s what we are! We live in Kapurthala since…(a) city, small city, not as big as like today…a small city…very modern.

The Maharaja was Sikh. The population of Kapurthala eighty percent were Muslims. My grandfather was appointed a tutor to the young prince of Kapurthala who was (to) be the Maharaja in his time…and Maharaja of that time was realising the Muslim population and he wanted (the) young prince to learn Urdu, Farsi, Persian, and Arabic. My grandfather was appointed to teach this young prince all that and also mannerism to grow up into a ruler…(learn the) history of Kapurthala and all that…grandfather…was the tutor…and because of that, my father, my uncle when they grew up they had a very special privilege under the royal family of Kapurthala…

I did my graduation eventually in Pakistan. My father wanted me to follow in his footsteps to go into agriculture. It required Sciences. I wasn’t interested (laughter)…I started with it, then without letting my father know I changed subjects to arts! (laughter)…

I did my, eventually did graduation in economics and geography. English was in those days, was the medium of education. Urdu was taught. But examination and teaching were in English…couple years after it started in Urdu. Anyway I did that, and again, what do I do with this degree? In…by then it was Pakistan…we had to leave Kapurthala to save our lives! We…just as we were; just the clothes we had on…we came to Pakistan.”


Samina Hussain

“Life was wonderful when you are young with your parents, it’s always wonderful and I still you know miss that life. I was you know, the youngest daughter so I was a bit spoilt as well and… I had a very caring family and caring parents specially. And I belonged to a very broad minded family and never had any problem to do things in my own ways. And yes I went to school, I went to college and done my graduation…Child Psychology and Islamic Study, and then I worked as an air hostess with PIA (Pakistan International Airline). And yes that was a wonderful life. I seen everywhere, the whole world, it was a wonderful life…

From Karachi. We had our family home in Karachi in Azmabad. And that was quite a big home, very nice home. Completely, I had completely different life than here. And I knew what sort life people live in this country. But, I never, was thinking I will be here (England) some time. I remember I used to always tell my friends that I will never marry out of the Pakistan.

I didn’t want to go out of Pakistan because when I was working with the airline I used to see people they standing on the door. Saying bye bye to their family. And that scene was… you know hurts me and on that point I used to tell my friends, I never will go out of the Pakistan because this is not right, your family is here and you are somewhere else. But I didn’t know that I going to end up here. (laughter) Even in Haslingden!”


Mohammed Ishaque

“I was graduated in 1960. In physics and chemistry, so they won’t let me do the menial sort of jobs things like that. He says okay if we could afford we send you to for the post-graduation and things like that. Although my parents were not educated. But they have seen the people in the cities more educated you know. So they were destined to send me to the university you know. But you know in Pakistan you have to… there is no scholarships or anything like that. No money for the students or anything. Parents has to do…, support their sons and daughters you know. So it was not easy life. Very difficult….

In Attock city…Well my practical lifestyle started in here. I was going to do the post-graduation in there but unfortunately we couldn’t afford it. Because farmers, small farmers, small who could live hardly you know on their earnings. They couldn’t send me to the university because university used to be far away from house. Peshawar University was about eighty miles from the house. Lahore, Punjab University was two hundred and fifty miles from there. So it was not easy, not easy to support, you know, to support me.”


Farida Munir

“In Pakistan I was studying in metric, which is equivalent to “O” Level and I was in my last year when I got engaged. I was sixteen when I got married, and I just gave my exam and straight away I came here. When I was sixteen in February 1967 I came to this country. So to me it seems I’ve have just spent my childhood in Pakistan, because I was so young and was not involved in any house work or anything you know. I have an extended family, we are six girls and two brothers… But my in-laws wanted to marry their son to me you know, and then my parents decided okay. So In those days it was got to be arranged marriages. And they don’t used to ask you know whether if you agree or not…you know and we had been bought up like wherever our parents will marry us and we will marry happily. I didn’t have any objection, because since I was growing up we knew you know our parents would do this job. And they we had faith in our parent we thought that wherever they will do they are going to do the best for us. So and then we carry on to keep that marriage, because we want to bring honour to our parents and we want to not bring any bad name to the family…

And…I remember I was used to play a lot of… not games like sports like a sports. It was used to be like…it’s a boys’ game sport, like cricket. We call it Gullie Danda (Ball & Stick). And Gullie Danda is…boys was used to play outside in the streets. But when I we were over twelve year old the parent don’t let us to go out the girls. And I was used to go on the roof because we have a flat roof there and I was used to play with my brothers. On the roof you know. And my grandma was used to shout at us and she said you’re grown and you shouldn’t do that you know (laughter in the background). But I was very fond of doing these kind of things. And I remember one of my auntie(’s) lived in villages. Because we was used to living in the city. There wasn’t any more trees all right, because it was roads and streets, busy roads and streets and everything. But they had a garden, big trees, mango trees and big fruit trees. And I was very fond of climbing the trees (Farida giggling). With the boys was used to do you know. And then their gardener was used to run after us because we (was) used unripe mangoes. And from home they didn’t know where we have gone. And because we wanted to eat they are very sour, and we (was) used to take salt and chilli powder with us and then we used to eat outside. That was our famous thing you know. So I remember that.”


Aslom Miah

“…after I left my village school I went High School, Kasim Ali High School, about 4 mile away from my home and I used to go every day, up and down, about 8 mile on foot. Most of the time it was okay but some of the time it was a disaster – there are a few small canals to swim in, also some big rivers (the Kushiara). So some of the time you get a lift, you know like in this country there’s hitch-hiking, like this…and sometimes we had to swim! One day the boat sink in the river, a big river, I was a bit upset, I lost my belongings… So I managed to survive and then run back home and my mum tried to stop me going to High School, and I said ‘no, I’m not stopping…I’ll leave home and find a lodging’.

…and I was there until my GCSE…and after GCSE I didn’t do very good to go to college, to go to university. But one of my granddads advised me to go for survey training… I became a Survey Instructor in Ramshundore High School, which is about 15 miles away from my home. I worked there….and then, in 1961, we see in Azad paper, an independent newspaper, in the Azad paper, that was in Ayub Khan’s government in Pakistan…we saw advertised that Britain wanted people from abroad as an employee, for work, labour, again they mention only people can come who are (from a) Commonwealth country….

But before I made a passport, as you know, I had various…much stress…with Mum…. without my mum’s authority I don’t do anything, that’s what I believe, you know, Mum is my pillar. So I asked Mum, and she said “oh no, what are you talking about? Why you wanting to go…you won’t come back?” I said “no… you allow me!” I begged her actually, “you allow me and I’ll come back within two years’”…

So after my mother’s permission I got my passport and everything, and when I was ready to go to Dhaka for visa then she…she gave me some money, said “as you’re going abroad, you’ll need a suitcase, so get one of them – a leather one, and she gave me 22 rupees, which is – then – just over one pound…Mother was very happy, and then also she provided them (two books on the case). She said you’re going to England with no English, so…(the books are a dictionary and a grammar). With her permission I left on the 27th May 1963, I reached here 28th May.”


Said Rahman

“I was born in Pakistan in 1934, and then I grow up in Pakistan and then I come to England. I joined the Merchant Navy and I did two years at that…”


Luai Ullah (Bengali)

“I was born in Pakistan…Because before East Pakistan not West…. I was very happy. Eleven years my mum died….So my father looked after all my sisters and brothers you know. Three sisters and two brothers. And my step brother.

Kela gula korsy, er fore school gesse aysi. (Lots of playing, going to school coming back.)
They played a version of Kabaddi: (a popular game)
.…Hohby soy zon, ohby soy zon. (There was six people this side and six people the other side.)….
Ek zon thag thag thag koryah. Zaytha. (So one person will say “thag, thag, thag” while trying to get to the other side.)
Thew kew fawo doreh, kew tho dorrehya acktay larr. (Someone would try to hold his leg. Another one would try to hold his arm and try to stop him from going to the other side.)
Thara “thag, thaga, thaga” koytha. (They used to say “thaga, thaga, thaga”.)
Oy. (Yes.) Soya aytha faroyn tho aylah. (If they can touch then they have to come back.)

…So morning time I go to Islami(c) school. Morning seven o’clock to eleven o’clock. Eleven go to school. Then coming about four o’clock. Then again go to shower, and again play. (laughter)

…And some of my house cleaning everything.
..Amdaar desho tho farm assil. (In our country, we had a farm.) Than, Goruh. (Crops, cows.)…Making rice.”