As per Islam, if one’s parents, especially the father, has passed away and the son is an adult, then the son takes over the duties and responsibilities regarding the upkeep of the sisters. Regardless of whether the brother is younger, older, married or unmarried, it is he who is placed with and should shoulder the responsibility of his sisters and cherish, honour, protect, and provide everything they need until they are married, when the responsibility is transferred to their husbands. If the brother bears the duty laid upon him, he will have rewards in abundance but if the brother fails in fulfilling his responsibilities, he will be severely punished for his negligence of duty on the day of judgement.
Now the question is, does it really happen? I must say very exceptionally, because I have witnessed many homes where sisters were evicted by their brothers. And still sons are welcomed and daughters are aborted. I realise how lucky me and my sisters are that we don’t have a brother. If my Abba had gone for female foeticide, he would have murdered five girls and would have no one to take care of him. But Alhamdulillah we are grateful that we have Abba as our father and we are not only alive but living with dignity. We all five have unconditional love for our Abba.
I haven’t seen any brother whose love and care for his sisters is more than the love and care of my sister, Nasreen, for us. Sometimes I doubt if she is human because the deeds she does can be only of angels. She was merely seventeen when she started to earn. She dreamt of becoming a doctor but she knew her constraints. Instead of MBBS she went for nursing because that was the utmost my Abba could do at that time. The locals jeered at my Abba, but my father believed in gender equality, so he didn’t give in. I remember the time when my didi was given 70 rupees during her training period and she used to spend it on us. After completion of her degree, another period of sacrifices and battles for her began. She could have had a better life but she proved herself a responsible daughter and the best sister. We never felt the absence of a brother. I am astonished at how she manages everything so superbly. She knows our needs individually, from meals to medicines, from admission fee to bus fare, and the surprising thing is that she never glared at us while giving money despite knowing that we have to get married and go to new homes.
Dear parents, you must accept that women and girls have a right to live with dignity. Give them quality education because it enables them to choose the kinds of lives they wish to lead. Dear brothers, you are the hope of your sisters, please do not disappoint their expectations. Be generous in expressing love. Be like my sister who became a pillar of strength for our family and the epitome of kindness for us.
The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other (Mario Puzo).
The writer is studying MSc at University of Kashmir. [email protected]