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Made in England: Raising A Family In Britain - Chapter 7 - Made in England - The Memoirs of Dr Choudry Mohammed Walayat MBE

When we got back to Britain in September 1967 we once again went to live in Sheffield, because Mohammed Rafique, who had put me up when I first arrived six years before, offered us a room at his house near the shopping centre in Darnall. His kindness over the years has been boundless and he now had a small house of his own and fitted us in with his own family, which included one of his brothers-in-law. Rukhsana did not seem to mind the contrast in our circumstances between the affluence of our life at home and the fact that I was once again unemployed in Sheffield. England was all new and exciting to her and she was young and adaptable, even if Darnall in the Sixties was full of pollution from Victorian factories, surrounded by rows of slum housing. Many of these terraced houses were cleared under a slum clearance programme during the Seventies, using compulsory purchase orders where necessary, and some new modern housing and green parkland areas were developed. However, Sheffield so far had not been very lucky for me, so, after a few months, I got a job with Rotherham Corporation Transport, once again as a bus conductor, and we moved a few miles east into the centre of Rotherham.

What money I had left from the sale of the houses and their materials back in Mirpur, I had left in Pakistan. We never knew if we would return one day, but it was our clear intention to live permanently in the U.K. However, we would certainly hope to return for a holiday and keep in touch with both our families, and then we could draw on the money that we had kept in Pakistan. Anyway, there was not as much as there had been, because my philosophy has always been to spend one’s cash and enjoy life, not to hoard it away. I had also invested in the building of my own house in Mirpur and that had taken a fair amount of the money. As well as that I had lavished gifts of jewellery and clothes on my new bride, whom I absolutely adored.

As I said, we made a conscious choice to move permanently to England. There was more opportunity for us there, and I liked the orderly way of life that I had experienced in my previous four year stay. It was in so many ways a better place to live and if you worked hard and honestly I could see that you could get on. In Pakistan I felt that a few families still held all the reigns of power and even a person with my education would not get very far, at least in the public sector and in official circles. I felt that if I had stayed I would “remain in a small box”, whilst England would offer all sorts of possibilities to someone like me who was prepared to get involved in British public and social life. I have not been disappointed. Anyhow I had let my new house in Mirpur rent free to my brother and he is still living there.

Rukhsana was now expecting our first child but she helped with the finances by doing some interpreting. Some of this was helping Pakistani women whose English was rudimentary or non-existent to deal with the Social Services and Social Security. All the women she dealt with were older than herself and this was a new experience, helping older people with their problems. At the same time she built up a wide circle of friends, some of whom she would keep throughout her life.

It was in Rotherham that our first child was born. Nadeem, our eldest son, was a premature baby but he was delivered courtesy of the National Health Service, which was one of the great advantages of having come to live in Britain. He weighed just under four pounds when he was born but thanks to care of the staff at Moorgate Hospital he survived a period of seven days in an incubator and developed into a healthy child. If we had remained in Pakistan he might very well have failed to survive, and as new parents we would have been devastated by the loss of our much-loved son. As the eldest son he has always lived with us, although he now has a successful career with SPATC training agency as an finance manager and is also the editor of the MARKET ORACLE financial markets web site. When later he married his lovely wife, Shahla, who has a Master’s Degree in Physics from Karachi University, they continued to live, with their family, in our home in Darnall.

In Pakistan it is very much the custom that at least one of the sons lives with their parents and helps to create a loving family home and base for other members of the family who, because of work or study, have moved out. As in much of European society until the Second World War, the family provided its own social services. The young parents looked after the children, and then in their later years the roles were reversed and the children, now adults, looked after their elderly parents. Along the way the sick were cared for and nursed back to health and family chores and responsibilities were divided up, often on the basis of gender, as used to happen until recently in Europe. It all leads to a very tightly knit family community, which I very much treasure and which Pakistani families in England are not surprisingly reluctant to give up. It keeps the extended family close, even if they live in different parts of the town or other cities. They still have a family “headquarters” where they can meet up and, when they stay over, we can always find rooms in the family home for adults and children to sleep in. The devoted closeness of our families also helps us to guide and teach our young people the right way to behave, and we in turn want to protect them against the harmful aspects of modern society, such as drugs and anti-social behaviour to their neighbours.

The Dreaming Spires

Later in 1968 our small young family moved again. We had a cousin in Oxford and he invited us over to try our luck in one of the most beautiful and interesting towns in England. I had long dreamt of visiting this famous university town, arguably the leading and most famous university in the world, and I was not disappointed. We wandered lazily through the courtyards of many of the famous colleges which, in those more spacious days, were open to the public and not obsessed with security. Queen’s College on the High and the great quadrangle of Christchurch were among our favourites, and we would cross the Meadows and watch rowers on the river while avoiding the hordes of undergraduates riding their old fashioned bikes to lectures. Wherever we were in Oxford there was the fragrant smell of flowers and we enjoyed our time living on Cowley Road. I had a job on the buses while Rukhsana, who was now pregnant again, looked after our baby.

Indleeb WalayatOur daughter Indleeb, currently studying for a Master’s degree at Edinburgh University, was born in the Churchill Hospital in Oxford in March 1969, and like Nadeem qualified automatically for British Citizenship, something I was very pleased about, although all my children have dual Pakistani nationality as well. A British passport is highly regarded throughout the world and I was proud to be part of a country that was one of the world’s leading nations, a successful, pragmatic country with a world view which played its part in the global economy and its ever-changing politics. Pakistan in contrast, although currently a cockpit of dangerous international issues, has traditionally only been concerned with its neighbours within its own region and its own unhappy internal politics.

However, Nadeem and Indleeb’s births had taken a lot out of Rukhsana and she was unwell. I felt we needed to move in with some friends in nearby Coventry who could give her some close care and attention and so we left Oxford behind. When I found I could not get work in Coventry we decided by the end of 1969 to return to Sheffield and the Steel City has been my home ever since.

Completing the Family

Initially we bought a house in Broad Oaks off Staniforth Road, the main road through Darnall. Later it would be swept away in the compulsory purchase scheme to clear the slums in the east end of Sheffield. For the moment Darnall was still its old lovely self, with rows of sub-standard, 19th Century housing, built to house the workers at the nearby engineering factories, which were still churning out pollution all over the area. The regeneration of Darnall had not yet started, but would begin in themiddle Seventies. Nor were theremore than three or four Asian families living in the immediate area at that time. We had picked a good time to put down roots, because Darnall was soon to be transformed around a broad linear park that sweeps through the heart of the community. The park begins near to 226 Darnall Road, which became our new home in March 1971, and which, as it turned out, has remained our permanent home.

It was actually a corner shop, with large shop windows on the main road and the side street. It was typical of shops in working class communities all over the industrial North and it had been a chemist’s for as long as anyone could remember. Late in the Sixties, a Pakistani man from Luton had bought it and turned it into a grocer’s, and now a cousin of mine wanted to rent it but his negotiations with the shopkeeper got bogged down. I was asked to arbitrate and the upshot was that I ended up buying the house. It was one of the best purchases I have ever made. I bricked up the two large shop windows and created another sitting room in what had been the shop itself, This provided us with a smart parlour where we could entertain visitors and do business with clients and people from the community. So many of my personal memories, of my wife, my children growing up and all our unique family history, are encapsulated within the walls of that house.

Our young family had recently grown to four children, when my second son, Kashaf, was born at Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital in May 1970 and, in the year we moved into our Darnall house, Ambreen, our second daughter, was born in the same hospital. They are my “Sheffield” children and I am proud of how they have got on in life. Kashaf followed me and became a City Councillor and was recently awarded the OBE – not many families can boast an MBE (mine 1995) and an OBE (Kashaf 2008) – while Ambreen is a very dedicated housewife and now has a large family of seven children of her own. All my children have honoured me by their love and support, but also by the contribution they have made to their city and their community.

By Dr. Choudry M. Walayat MBE

Copyright 2009 - Dr. Choudry M. Walayat MBE

You May contact Choudry Walayat on his Mobile - 07941016417 (UK)


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All facts and opinions in this book are the sole responsibility of Dr. Choudry M. Walayat. The book has been written in co-operation with John Cornwell, who produced the final texts of the chapters of the book.

Combating Racism 1969-75 - Chapter 7 - Made in England - The Memoirs of Dr Choudry Mohammed Walayat MBE