I met her when I was four,
And saw her reading Surah Ar-Rahman
Holding my hands and showing it to her mom.
Then, I met her when I was maybe sixteen,
And saw her all clad in black with a pair of glasses on her nose.
She was awed by me growing up so fast.
And then I never met her again.
And how I wish to just have a glance at the last time I met her.
You never know whom you’re meeting for the last time.
The world has missed a beautiful soul’s existence.
But whatever it was,
A minuscule memory –
It was magical.
She left leaving unforgettable memories.
She left a mark to be inspired.
She left leaving kindness everywhere.
I’d like to introduce you all to the late Rahila Usman Dudhmal who has inspired many people with her vision, aspirations, passion, and personality.
Rahila Usman Dudhmal was a young, enthusiastic, charming woman and a nature and animal lover, having a heart full of compassion for children and elders alike and with no ill will against even her staunchest of opponents and with a strong desire to do something for society, especially for the underprivileged women and orphans.
She had the desire to fight against gendered social prejudice and societal inhuman customs towards the weaker section and a strong desire and will to change that.
But her bright and promising life was shattered by a tragic incident on the day of Uttarayan (Kite Flying Festival), 14th Jan 2019. She had gone on a mission to Gandhinagar for a noble cause as a volunteer under Karuna – 2019
‘Birds Rescue Program’, organized by Gujarat Van Vibhag (Gujarat Forest Department) and inaugurated by the CM of Gujarat on 11th Jan 2019. She had dedicated this part of her life to saving innocent birds from the suffering caused by humans due to the blatant use of deadly & banned glass-coated Manja/Chinese threads during this festival. While she was returning home from her mission, the same glass-coated manja thread struck and made a deep wound on her neck at the Khodiyar Bridge on the SG Highway and that proved fatal for her. The tender-hearted girl, who could not bear the scars on the body of the birds lost her life on the spot due to severe blood loss and left this world on the final journey to meet our Creator. Some kind passerby families brought her in their vehicle to the nearby KD Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
DREAMS AND ASPIRATIONS:
Rahila Usman started her schooling at the International Indian School, Dammam, Saudi Arabia and completed it at the International Indian School, Wadi Kabeer, Muscat, Oman. She completed her BBA degree from Madras University with flying colours. Simultaneously she was pursuing a BSC in Islamic Finance & Management from International Islamic Online University, Qatar. To continue further study, she started her MBA degree by joining NICM (National Institute of Co-operative Management) at Gandhinagar, Gujarat. She aspired to be an entrepreneur to contribute to the progress of society especially the orphans and underprivileged women.
(Her identity card/Photo: Iftekhar Malik/BBC)
She was also an aspiring poet and writer and aspired to write motivational books for the young girls and women of society. Her poems and theme collection are published in the form of a book called Breathe. Her poems exhibited her deep love towards our Creator Allah SWT and her good understanding of the Qur’an. Her poems displayed her abhorrence towards rigid social traditions affecting the life of young girls and women in the patriarchal mind-dominated society. Her poems also included childhood memories from the past and her experiences of the trials and tribulations she had to endure as a teenager due to the evils of society.
She was a ray of brightness and liveliness in everyone’s life. She was well known for her thoughts in her school and college circle through social media platforms. The affection and love she left behind was seen in the form of tribute and prayers that were held for her by every one of her alma maters. The state of people who were left restless after her death proves how great of a personality she had and how much of a great impact she made on everyone.
(A poem written by Rahila/BBC)
A few instances of short but eventful and impactful life will provide glimpses of her dreams and philanthropic activities, extracted from Breathe.
During the recent flood tragedy in Kerala in 2018, she was deeply affected by the sufferings of the people and volunteered to help them financially from her savings. She contacted her school friends in Kerala and an amount was sent to them to buy essentials for the flood affected.
She had the desire to help the homeless people sleeping on the footpaths during the cold winter nights and organized a blanket distribution program along with her family for the homeless people in Ahmedabad. In one instance, she wrapped a blanket around an armless destitute person.
Her love for animals was also exemplary. She had rescued a baby squirrel from almost certain death. She had taken the pain to search on the net on how to rear a baby squirrel. She had named that squirrel Loki and it was almost like a pet for her, a pet which used to climb on her arms & shoulders without any fear. She had in the past also brought many injured birds and kittens from the road to nurse them back to health.
She joined the Radiance English Medium Public School as a teacher. During a short span of less than one year, she had won the hearts and minds of the young children and her colleagues. In fact, upon hearing of her sudden demise many of her students did not come out of their houses due to grief for many days and little kids of KG and preparatory school bought flowers from their pocket money and placed them on her grave.
She had a deep desire to set up an NGO to tackle the mental health issues of underprivileged and abused women in society.
During the short span of six months in which she was pursuing her MBA, she won the hearts of her teachers and fellow students with her easygoing nature, intellectual sharpness and taking fellow students on board during academic activities and group discussions. This was stated by the Director of the Institute, fellow students, and her professors as well. Almost all her classmates and the director along with professors travelled to Modasa (100 Km from Gandhinagar) to pay homage to her.
She left an indelible mark on the lives of almost every person with whom she interacted during her short life span. May Allah SWT have mercy on her soul and accord her the highest reward for it in the Hereafter. Aameen.
To carry forward and fulfil her vision, dreams and aspirations, a trust named “Rahila Usman Dudhmal Charitable Trust” has been registered. This is to pursue and carry forward a variety of social, charitable, and educational activities in all fields. May Allah SWT accept it and grant her the highest of the highest levels of Jannah. Aameen.
The below-given poetries are extracted from her book Breathe:
The Patron and Helper / Al-Wali
When the rivers
roll down from the skies
pouring onto every
grain of sand
When the light
hits and seeps into
the darkest of corners
bringing forth life
I pray to you,
take care of my heart in the same way.
My skin to you is not
the colour of weak chai not beige not the shade of rasmalai
and accordingly so,
I am unfair and unlovely
So, on the day I am to be betrothed
I am scrubbed clean, with chandan, licorice and haldi, layered with serums
until I look two tones, pale and ashy
maasis (aunties) inspecting time and again the stained red mehendi,
be(lie)ving these will somehow
appeal to their white-washed fantasy
make me seem lamb-like, spineless….
my colour does not define me.