Valor, resilience and grit are the three words that resonate with the astounding personality of Kubra Amjad. What is so special about her, you ask? Driving a Suzuki pick-up van full of beaming children around town is what makes her stand out from the rest of the lot.
Kubra’s inspirational saga reiterates the immense power that women possess. Like a phoenix that rises from the ashes, women like her, with their rousing journey in life, continue to set an example for the society as they transform gender dynamics, while breaking free from all shackles of discriminatory gender roles.
Kubra’s story continues to serve as a major source of inspiration for the sheer fact that she has stood as a fierce force against all her trials and tribulations and never lost hope. Having lost her husband to cardiac ailment at the fragile age of 50, Kubra was left with no other option besides than fending for herself. Devastated by heart, Kubra was initially taken in by her relatives. After recovering from the tragedy that had struck her, Kubra decided to assume the arduous responsibility of making ends meet.
Leading a life of comfort and warmth with a husband who had a celebrated career as a set designer, Kubra used to pick and drop goods that were needed by her husband at work. As she enjoyed helping him with immense fervour, Kubra had not anticipated that this would soon become her sole source of income in the days to follow.
Her distinct journey as a van driver dates back to 2007 when she took her first passenger to school. Recalling her first experience as a driver, Kubra jubilantly said, “I was desperately in need of a job when one of my neighbours asked me to take their daughter to school. I was happy that they had trusted me with such a huge responsibility. Soon enough I started taking most of the kids residing in my vicinity to school and dropped them back to their places too.”
Providing the much-needed van service to almost 15 to 20 kids now, Kubra is no less than an epitome of bravery. Transcending all barriers and obstacles to attain a supreme level of self-sufficiency and reliance, Kubra has fought all battles of life with utmost confidence and determination.
She seeks pride in her work and describes the faith the parents of these young ones have as invaluable. “Endowed with a special duty, I receive love and appreciation wherever I go. I was driving when a group of boys stopped in the middle of the road and looking at me stopped gesturing a thumbs-up. They were like ‘Way to go Aunty! Good job!’ That was an ultimate lift to my spirits,” she shared.
Upon inquiring, teachers and children that have embarked upon Kubra’s unique journey alongside her, expressed great satisfaction. “You don’t come across a female van driver very often. But since the day I joined, aunty Kubra is very good at her job. She picks and drops me very safely and for girls it has become increasingly convenient to travel. I think it is a testament to the fact that women can do anything they put their mind to and people should consider of appreciating it thoroughly,” said Sadaf, a school teacher.
Kubra goes on to share how initially when she shared the idea of taking up this occupation with her family members she faced resistance. Being part of a patriarchal society, an objection was raised over her choice of work as she was advised to take up something that was ‘socially acceptable’. Her perseverance and adherence to earn ‘halal rozi’ not just made her content but also filled the void that was left behind by her sterility. Being around kids filled her with endless spirit. Those carefree laughter encouraged her to carry this out with amplified zest even more.
However, according to Kubra a lot has changed since she started driving in Karachi. “The traffic is worse than I have ever seen in the city,’’ she complained. ‘Nevertheless, when I get stuck in a difficult situation people selflessly help me and respect me knowing that I am a lone driver,’’ she further added.
“Once I met an accident while taking kids to school. The car brakes had failed and I did not know what to do in such a tensed situation. Coming to a safe spot, I let the van collide with another vehicle on the road. That was the best solution that I could come up with at that time. None of the children sustained any injury. However, my car was badly damaged,” Kubra recalled.
Irrefutably, Kubra Amjad has led an exemplary life. She has certified herself as the torch bearer of women empowerment, not only for young girls, but also for women who are alone and strive hard to earn a decent living. One thing she staunchly believes in and urges women to be is: self-dependent. “No matter what your circumstances are or how smooth your life is, always stand for empowerment and what you feel is right,” she advises.
Kubra Amjad with her unmatched grit has revealed the reality behind stereotypical statements like ‘women are physically weak and irrational’ or that ‘they are bad drivers’. She acts as an inspiration for her unwavering bravery and heroism deserves applaud as she continues to defy the age-old notions of a gender-stereotyped woman.