Dreamer, Warrior, Philanthropist—Gazalla Noor in Letter and Spirit

Gazalla Amin Noor

“Her passing away has created a void and a silence which is very difficult to overcome.”

 By Sheeba Wani

IT took a single social media post to trigger a tsunami of tributes for the dynamic Kashmiri woman entrepreneur who touched countless lives with her philanthropic and social works.

At 59, Dr. Gazalla Amin Noor succumbed to cancer — the critical disease she bravely fought for half a decade.

“I am beyond heartbroken to share that my darling mother - Dr. Gazalla Noor - has left this earthly plane for the heavenly abode,” the social media post by her son, Aamir Ahmad Amin, informed.

“She passed on peacefully and softly in the loving embrace of her family during the last night of April in this holy month. Her entire life and work as a pioneering Kashmiri woman in her field has been a testament to the strength of the human spirit, and she dealt with the many, many ups and downs with utmost grace, compassion and generosity towards people. She taught me and my brothers not merely to survive in life, but to thrive, and to never forget how important it is to be sensitive and caring.”

As the word spread, who’s who in town competed to pay homage to the lady who was a go-to person for many for her empowering and enterprising spirit.

Mourners lined up for Gazalla Amin Noor's funeral prayers.

“Death snatched from us a lovable friend, lovely sister, medical student, business icon, pure human being, beautiful woman, great satirist, knowledgeable thinker, a brave fighter and above all a genuine poet,” said Àli Shàidà, a noted Kashmiri personality.

Gazalla Noor was a warrior, said noted Kashmiri netizen Aahil Asif: “She taught us how to fight when catastrophe strikes in form of pain and difficulties. I never had doubt she is born an elevated soul.”

Among the mourners are her school mates sharing some budding aspects of her life. “Though our political opinions did not match in recent years, I will always remember Gazalla Noor as a fellow voracious reader and mischievous classmate who spoke impeccable English,” recalled Renuka Dhar, Gazalla’s classmate at Presentation Convent School.

“She surprised many of us when she drifted into medical college and got married at a young age. One would’ve imagined her as a writer not a doctor because she hated physics as much as I did! We may have clashed over the issue of Kashmir but we definitely shared a bond as PCS girls whose fathers were colleagues. My memories of her are free of politics and religion because we grew up in different times when the thought of fighting over ‘Kashmir’ was not born, at least in our innocent heads!”

Apart from a voracious-reader and self-confident woman, Gazalla Noor was equally a great philanthropist.

“On January 2021,” said Mohammad Afaaq Sayeed of SRO Kashmir, “I wrote a post seeking help from donors in buying office furniture and computers for SRO’s ‘Oxygen Kashmir’ unit. A few minutes after the post went public, I got a call from Gazalla Noor Baji. She said, ‘Afaaq, remove the post. I am sending furniture and computers to SRO.’ I was like, ‘Thank you Baji, you have always been a great support’. She mildly scolded me for saying ‘Thank you’. Today, I sat on the same chair which she used to sit on a few years back in her office. I couldn’t control my emotions. My eyes went misty. She was a philanthropist par excellence. She started a coaching center for Civil Services aspirants at Rajbagh. She wanted to build a Cancer Hospital. She was a dreamer. A big dreamer.”

To honour her memory, SRO Kashmir has decided to create a big library for those students who can’t afford to buy expensive books. The welfare body is converting their Batamallo office into a three storey library.

“We have named the initiative as “Noor e Ilm” and we will leave no stone unturned to make it a big success,” Afaaq said. “Noor e Ilm will focus on the education of the children of the poor. This will be the greatest tribute to our women educationists like Baaji and my beloved mother both of whom died due to the same disease, cancer.”

Gazalla Noor was an enterprising woman who inspired many women.

As a strong-opinionated woman, Gazalla Noor would raise her voice against some pressing issues on social media. In her twitter bio, she would describe herself as “a human with an advantage, a businessperson with a heart”.

In one of her social media posts, she endorses positivity in life.

“Why are we negative about life,” she asked in the post. “The road to paradise also passes through this world. Allah has created beautiful things for us to enjoy and take joy from. I do not like it when people show dead bodies in shrouds and say this will be your end. Even that is a blessing after a certain age or after long illness. Your life is a miracle. It is full of love, affection, moments of unbridled joy. Moments when charity that you do or the service that you do for others gladdens your entire existence. The moments when you receive so much unconditional love, empathy and peace. Look at how nature has spread itself around you in myriad unbelievable shapes and colors of immense beauty. Your wealth makes you happy, the clothes you wear and the work you do make you happy. I believe that this world is also a good place and not to be remembered as a futile, ugly thankless journey.”

But beyond her vocal virtual presence, she was an inspiring self-starter in real life.

“A terrific and ambitious businesswoman who thrived in a conflict zone despite so many challenges around, she led a lobbying group —  full of men — in times of one after another crises,” said journalist Sameer Yasir. “She was a real — what the State has made a mockery of the word: entrepreneur.”

In Kashmir’s oldest trade body, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gazalla Amin became the first woman to hold Secretary General and Treasurer positions.

"Kashmir has lost an iconic figure particularly in agro and women entrepreneurship & is a great loss to the business as well as society of Kashmir", posted Mubeen A Shah, her former colleague at KCC&I.

“A pioneer of contemporary women entrepreneurship in Kashmir, who was among the first to make a mark in commercial lavender and rose oil farming in Kashmir, Gazalla ji has inspired countless young men and women in agri-business,” said Nisar Ali, a noted Economist of Kashmir. “Her passing away has created a void and a silence which is very difficult to overcome.”

Despite diagnosed with the dreaded disease, she stayed affable and master at bonding with people.

“She was the man around, very convincing while making a statement on issues,” said Peerzada Ashiq, a senior Kashmiri scribe.

“Graceful in conduct and well-meaning in conversations, Gazalla ji stood out for her ability to connect with social causes in Kashmir. She was ever ready to join any cause to reach out to dispossessed, needy and disempowered. She was proud and seeped in Kashmiri culture. Anything about Kashmir would excite her. I am yet to come across such a large hearted, dignified and full of life woman as Gazalla ji. Indeed she will live on in the legacy she left behind. Gazalla ji has left enough ‘Noor’ behind for us to learn from.”

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