Karachi: It was a small wedding but one with a lot of heart in it. Amid family and friends, renowned philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi and wife Bilquis Edhi married off their 215th “daughter” on Sunday.
Decked up and smiling, the bride, 18-year-old Sehrish, said she felt happy and sad at the same time. “Happy because I finally will have a home of my own, but sad to leave mummy and papa who raised me up as their own,” she said referring to Bilquis and Abdul Sattar.
Arranged at Edhi’s Boulton Market office, Bilquis said it was the same office where she had found Sehrish lying on the doorstep 15 years ago.
“She was just three-year-old then. And now I feel happy that she’s all grown up and will go to a nice place, where she’ll have a family of her own,” Bilquis added smiling.
Orphaned or abandoned by their parents at an early age, there are more than 700 girls taken care of by Bilquis at the moment. Speaking in a matter-of-fact manner, Bilquis said the decision to either get married or receive further education rested on the girls. But she ensures that the complete “history” of the men is found out before accepting the proposals.
Seen taking charge of the wedding and correcting her husband every few minutes, Bilquis looked satisfied with the arrangements. Speaking about the proposal, she said it was a “long process” and blamed herself for being “finicky”.
“I ask a lot of questions,” she began, “I insist on meeting the groom’s family five or six times, and then ask my daughter whether she is interested or not. So that she doesn’t blame me later on,” she added in all seriousness.
In some cases, she felt sad that the men did not turn out to be as good as she wanted them to be. For instance, recently, Bilquis was shocked to find out that one of the grooms had left the bride soon after he found out that she had developed a disease.
“He earns a million a month and didn’t have enough to pay for her. But thankfully such cases are few and far between, but it is still sad.”
In other cases, she takes care of the expenses if the husband refuses to take responsibility. “I don’t want them to separate. Call me old-fashioned, but I wouldn’t want that for any of my daughters,” she added.
In Sehrish’s case, her proposal was sent by one of the girls previously married by Bilquis. But it took five months for the wedding to take place as a close uncle of the groom had died, that pushed forward the dates.
Now that everything was arranged and done with, Abdul Sattar said he did not wish for heaven. Looking at Sehrish, he said, “Getting these girls married feels more good than anything.”