Meet Bilkis Siamwala – Her world may be Dark but a Smile never leaves her face.

Meeting and knowing Bilkis Siamwala

Inspiration can come from anywhere, just like the rays of sunshine can come from a tiny hole in the darkest of places. Meeting Bilkis Aunty was like a ray of sunshine as she inspired me in so many ways just by being herself.

When I first met her, we were sitting next to each other, and I didn’t know how I could converse with her. Without thinking much, I introduced myself, and then we couldn’t stop talking. I was a bit judgemental at first but I was proved completely wrong.

Introducing Bilkis Siamwala

Born in Sidhpur, Gujarat – Bilkis Siamwala currently has been living in Chennai for a long time. As mentioned above, after meeting her I was highly inspired as to how one can be grateful and contented even in tough situations. Every time I meet her she is smiling and remembers each and everything. When I say each and everything I mean it. She believes she is God-gifted and is quite a humorous person. She also states jokingly that being blind has also fetched her some perks. Like having no issues when there is no power, everything is the same for her except it’s hot. While I was interviewing her she mentioned that the TV’s display in her room was off and not working but the audio was perfect, how it caused an issue to others but barely made any difference for her.

Upon seeing her zest to learn and her optimistic approach is what led me to share her story here so that – we get inspired and our approach towards life changes. Read on to hear her story –

The Conversation

Q. While growing up, what were the obstacles you faced individually and how did you overcome those?

A. Obstacles are a part of everyone’s life – I had a fair share of mine. I was born blind, so it was next to impossible to get myself treated. We went to a lot of doctors but it was a lost cause. We accepted my fate. Initially, I was put in a normal school but obviously, I wasn’t able to cope up there but then I joined a school for the blind and it was the best thing for me. Yes, there were many obstacles, as a kid, I needed attention all the time and could not be left alone. I am dependent on people but someone told me something very wise. Blind or not every human being is dependent – no one is completely independent.

Q. How did you manage with your studies?

A. A whole lot of credit goes to the inventor of Braille who made learning and education for people like us possible.

I love two things learning and traveling. I can never say no to any one of these things. My love for learning made it easy for me to study, so it was never a problem. Science was my favorite subject. Learning new languages was also my favorite. I can speak Tamil, English, Gujarati fluently. I can read Arabic and wish to learn so many languages if I get the opportunity. The one subject that I detested was ‘Math’ and in that ‘Algebra’.

Q. At any point in your life, have you ever felt that you were less fortunate and that life is unfair for you?

A. Yes, I definitely have felt that a lot of time. Especially after my mom passed away, it was a bit difficult for me. I can’t say that life is unfair to me, because there are so many things that I am grateful for. People are quite surprised that I can speak so many languages fluently, read the Quran and even memorize it. I can write in Braille and do so much more. I have friends in London, so many here in Chennai that I am thankful for.

Just like I mentioned earlier that I like to believe that I am God – gifted as Tamil and Arabic was never taught to me, I learnt it by myself miraculously.

Q. How do you manage with your daily activities?

A. Everything by myself, be it bathing, dressing up, keeping my clothes, switching on the tv…. the list goes on. I even travel by myself. I’ve traveled to Banglore, Secundrabad by myself on a train. Somebody drops and picks me at the station. People are very kind, you know. In the train, people take so much care of me. If I call the coffee guy, he hands me the coffee but when I am about to pay him he tells me that someone has already paid for me. When they say there are no good people in this world, I really disagree.

Q. Did you have any goals in life or still have any goals or wishes that you want to fulfill?

A. Yes, quite a few. Some I have done and some I am still pursuing. I loved collecting coins and did that for a long time but I have left that now. I have a lot of photos in my collection that I like to treasure. There are quite a few goals that I still want to accomplish like learning how to use the computer, learning more foreign languages.

” You know the ultimate goal is to never stop learning!”

Bikis Siamwala

Q. You have lived 70 years of your life with various ups and downs, is there anything you would like to tell today’s generation?

A. I don’t know much about today’s generation but I can say one thing –

“Never Give Up! – If you have the desire in you, your ‘will’ will automatically find its way!”

To achieve something in life you have to do all the hard work by yourself. No one else will do it for you. If you think it’s impossible, remove the word ‘impossible’ from your dictionary. As we all know ‘God helps those who help themselves’.

Q. A famous question asked to Helen Keller – ‘What would you do if you were given your eyesight for a day?’ – I am asking you the same question, tell us your answer.

A. Just for one day?? That’s too less! I am very greedy you see. The list to do will be so long and the time so less. First I will start with seeing myself in the mirror and my close family and friends. Seeing the most basic things like the house I live in, and everything around me. With limited time I will rush to see the beach which has been my favorite spot. Usually, I am just able to feel the waves crashing this time I will be able to see to it. Talking about itself only makes me feel so excited.

Almost a quarter of my day will go in this. With the remaining time, I will take a flight to Mumbai. Why Mumbai? His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin resides in Mumbai. He is the leader of my community and if I get eyesight for a day, seeing him would be on the top of my priority list. I will also visit Raudat Tahera – the mausoleum of Syedna Taher and Syedna Mohammed where I will definitely find peace. Taking a flight – will also let me witness the beautiful clouds from above and that is something I will cherish forever. With that, I will end my 24 hours – probably the most exciting 24 hours of my life.

Personal note from the author:

The whole journey of going to her house- doing an interview- to writing this article has been quite a journey for me. I’m a pessimist but after this journey, I am trying to change myself a bit. I hope reading this has been a great journey for you and it may have made you realize something important. Cheers to optimistic and inspirational people like Bilkis aunty. 🙂

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  34. Tasneem Abbas Chhapiwala

    Very interesting and it gave us so much inspiration

  35. This is so inspiring… seeing positive vibes in everything is such a rare quality in todays times.. where being kind also has motives for some…
    The article is written very well.
    And Bilkis aunty hats off to you to let your story motivate others to look at life through a ray of hope.

  36. Very inspiring

  37. Fatema Kaizer Siamwala

    Very inspiring and motivating .

  38. Bilkis ben is my best friend ever, i used to help her whenever she needed help, and for that i used to be proud, and she also had trust on me, I will
    never forget her and i would help her at the last of my life.

  39. I’ve seen Bilkis aunty during my teenage and yes she is an humurous person. Hats off to her, for being such an inspiration to the world and her family, who has been an support system all through her passage of life.
    Kudos to the Interviewer!!!

  40. Hatsoff to Bilkis Aunty as she is a true inspiration to all in this world…. All because of the Dua Mubarak of Aqa Moula n I pray for the boundless blessings of Moula on her n may Allah Taala fulfill all her wishes soon.. Aameen…..
    Thank U Zaineb Ben for sharing such A Wonderful inspiration

  41. Where there is a will there is a way
    Thank u for sharing this truly inspirational biography of a not less than a personality we should really learn from.

  42. Kuresh shabbir bhai Calcuttawala

    I would like 2 congratulations 2 zainab Ben Bilkis ben she is my relative but i also don’t know about her that much but u know about her that once again i m telling thnx a lot Bilkis ben thank u v much about ur life i seen now i also don’t know about u that much thnx a lot.

  43. Truly inspirational.

  44. Mustafa Fakhruddin Navawaswala

    For Her 24 hours eye sight restoration and her positive lap up to do things, gave us the ingenious real Bilkis Ben’s wish list. I had a feeling she achieved her 24 Hours eye sight restoration in to with her divine eye in doing ziyarat of Saints of Raudat Tahera & Glimpse of Our Moula’s deedar and Winding up at her favourite destination beach and waves. She lived her imagination so well, that even we normal human forget to dream and express our such feelings.

  45. What an inspiration. Reading about her life has made me resolve to do one thing daily…to be grateful to Allah for every little thing in life..

  46. Bilkis aunty my heartiest salute, standing ovation n a big round of thunderous applause to u. Lots of love, prayers n respect for u. Almighty will surely definitely answer all your prayers and wishes. U r really an inspiration for all of us. Your story made me cry but your words inspired us very much about your life journey.Last but not the least, thank you so much Zainab Ben.

  47. This is so inspirational !

  48. Farida Aliakbar Imani

    A gr8 salute to Bilkisben! A very inspiring and motivating life! May Allah TA bless her with all His Bounties.

  49. Thank you for indroducing Bilkis bhen to us ,, personally seen her umpteen of times but knowing about her was wonderfull and an inspiration for all at any age..

  50. A very good article….so much to learn from biklisben…

  51. We salute you Bilkis aunty
    You have the zeal to live life to its fullest.
    God bless you aunty.

  52. We salute you Bilkis aunty
    You have the zeal to live life to its fullest.
    God bless you aunty.

  53. Very inspirational! And yes it has so much positivity that makes me really think of life in a different perspective and be thankful for the things and people in our lives that we knowingly or unknowingly take for granted at times.

  54. Inspiring to she her wisdom in blindness while we see darkness and negativity with our sight

  55. Samina Bakir Vazirbun

    I am the aunty (faizee) of Bilkis Siamwala
    Zainab I have done a great jo
    U r Artical n interview wt Bilkis is wonderful

  56. Very well written this article reminds us to be grateful of everything we have!

  57. Inspiring read…Kudos to Bilkis Ben.
    Thank you Zainab, Keep up the good work.

  58. This article is an eye opener to the sighted. We crib for small small things without realizing n not being grateful for what we r blessed with. Good job Zainab ben

  59. I would like to congratulate zainab for this thought provoking and inspirational article written so well and highlighting all her positive points which I myself dint knew inspite of being her relative, Inspite of her major handicap her GOD Gifted statement was really shocking and every one of us should learn from her to Thank GOD instead of seeing the shortcomings when in comparison to her is nothing. She has switched on the light button for all the pessimist person.

  60. Its really appreciable we always wait for that 1 wish to get fulfilled though we already have 99 sucess within us to lead a happy n sucessful life ..Bilkis aunty’s journey is a perfect example for all of us…Great ….khuddos to her.

  61. A good read. Articles like keep us grounded and remind us to be grateful. Keep up the good work Zainab.

  62. It was an eye opener……for us the non blind too.
    So much to learn from her and her never say die attitude

  63. Well written Zainab it was truly inspirational!

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