It was common for my father to sit my sisters down and tell them things like, “I saw a girl working in the bank in town, and she was a girl just like you.” My parents had never completed primary school. They couldn’t speak English or even read that well. My parents only knew the language of numbers, buying and selling, but they wanted more for their kids. That’s why my father had scraped the money together and kept Annie in school, despite the famine and other troubles.
His sisters -- my aunts -- did not go to school at all, just like millions of girls in my country. Education had been a great gift for him. He believed that lack of education was the root of all of Pakistan's problems. Ignorance allowed politicians to fool people and bad administrators to be re-elected. He believed schooling should be available for all, rich and poor, boys and girls. The school that my father dreamed of would have desks and a library, computers, bright posters on the walls and, most important, washrooms.
I have my father's lopsided mouth. When I smile, my lips slope to one side. My doctor sister calls it my cerebral palsy mouth. I am very much a daddy's girl, and even though I would rather my smile wasn't crooked, there is something moving for me about having a mouth exactly like my father's.