Neda Fathima, who had topped the state-wide final year (2015) exam of Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS), conducted by Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, Nashik, is being celebrated her area and beyond.
“My father was my biggest source of inspiration and courage,” says Fathima as her five brothers and uncle, Fakhre Alam, surround her at the tiny clinic. “She is the youngest among our siblings and father dotted on her. He encouraged us to work hard and make education the tool to progress. She outshone us all,” adds Fathima’s eldest brother Dr Sarfraz Arzoo who, along with her, now run the clinic.
The family received a massive jolt on November 22, a week ahead of Fathima’s BDS exam results came in, when its anchor, the six siblings’ father died of cancer. “I miss him a lot today. It was his dream that I get gold medal at the final exams. Now that I have got it he is not here to celebrate,” she says, her voice choking.
Now that she has achieved her father’s one dream, Fathima is eyeing the second dream that he had for her. Post-BDS, he wanted her to join politics and do “social work.” She is preparing to fight the upcoming BMC elections on Samajwadi Party ticket from ward number 223, reserved for women. “As a corporator I will be empowered to do a lot for my area and the people I grew up with. And I will not abandon the medical practice for which my late father motivated me so much,” promises the girl who has helped change Bhendi Bazaar’s image from an infrastructure-starved ghetto to a place where topping an exam is no longer a chimera.