SHABQADAR: One of the more poignant photographs shared on social media Wednesday night was of Malala Yousafzai’s parents watching with absolute joy and pride among the applauding audience.
Another set of parents also watched the Nobel Ceremony aired from Oslo, Norwary, although with a heavy heart and a sliver of hope. Honey Javed, a young teacher at Askari Foundation School and College in Shabqadar, died on October 1 in a grenade attack at the institute. Her mother and Javed Khan, her father, are still in shock, barely able to talk about their daughter who was “everything to my family,” Javed had told The Express Tribune soon after her demise.
Today, they just want their daughter’s efforts to educate women recognised; if Malala from Swat can be heard, why can’t Honey from Charsadda, they question.
Like the 17-year-old Nobel laureate from Swat, Honey was very keen about women’s education. With a master’s in botany, Honey was one of the head teachers at Askari. Her father added Honey also taught girls from her neighbourhood after school hours, trying to give girls an opportunity to study in an area where few women manage to attain higher education. Javed broke down as he described his daughter’s passion for educating.
The love of the father juxtaposed with the worries of the now sole breadwinner who works as a clerk at a government office. Honey was the only child among five who was helping support the family.
Honey Bibi Hall
In the months after the attack on the school, Askari Foundation School’s administration named an exam hall after the teacher, but no provincial education department official has visited the grieving parents. Not even the PTI MPA from the constituency, PK-22, Charsadda.
Honey’s brother Waqas Khan had an explanation for the apparent neglect. The university student told The Express Tribune Honey had been fighting for a lecturer’s seat at a collage for which MPA Mohammad Arif had a favourite candidate. “She had higher merit but the MPA is also the chairman for the standing committee for secondary education,” said Waqas. “Being passed over for that post was something Honey was not happy about till the day she died.”
The elder brother added with a touch of bitterness, “She argued with him and the college principal for ignoring merit, then why would the local MPA visited our house to offer condolence?”
A macabre mail glitch
“We had to face a second doom’s day when the University of Peshawar sent us an invitation to our daughter’s convocation ceremony on October 30,” Honey’s mother told The Express Tribune. “We have her degree but we don’t have Honey.” The family even has her books, added Waqar, her younger brother who is a college student. “She never married because she wanted to continue teaching and learning.”
“We don’t want any compensation,” said Javed. “We just want our daughter to be recognised, like Malala was for her efforts,” he said wistfully.
“I would be forever proud if a government school or college is named in Honey’s recognition; rewarding her in death is essential, even if she was ignored in her lifetime, even robbed of her due right.”
Praising Malala, Honey’s mother just wanted her daughter be recognised for working to educate girls.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2014.