As an army officer’s daughter, she spent her childhood at various army cantonments, shifting six different schools across difficult terrains of this nation. Saira has witnessed the enthralling beauty of this country and absorbed the changing culture that has taught her important life lessons. But, joining the Lovedale Boarding School at Ooty brought a major shift in her learnings, it was here that the young Saira learnt to be independent, self-assured and an informed individual. After finishing school, she joined her father who was appointed as a defence attache of India to Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Kuwait where Saira was exposed to the cultural exchanges and the rapidly changing world political affairs.
Her diverse career aspirations are evident in the many hats that she wears so proudly. She says that “one should always be inspired to find the beauty in life, never stop yourself with one single job.” Saira’s travel stories have helped in shaping her intellectual and personal ethics. If not for her liberal yet conservative parents, she would not have had this exposure to different cultures of the world. It taught her to question the societal norms, be a happy rebel and acknowledge the world with an open mind. At nineteen when she accepted the marriage proposal from Dr Fuad Halim, she did not know that he will be her life-changing catalyst. He showed her a world beyond her inner circle, she gave up fifteen years of corporate life to indulge in paths that were her true callings. She says, “I concentrated on pursuing my passions that lay in writing, theatre, political activism, education, training and social work”.
In all these years of actively participating in her husband’s political movement, we wanted her to share with us few strong memories. She quickly responded that “I happened to be doing door to door campaigning, I was at this Muslim slum area and I started conversing to some of the young girls in Hindi and Urdu, the girls turned around and started answering my queries in chaste English and one of the girls turned around and in a clipped accent said “Can I please have a copy of your election manifesto!” This proves that in this nation, walk in the bylanes to discover the true gems that wait to be polished and showcased on the global stage.
“I have faced many ups and downs in life, but I have always lived to be surprised of the next second, live by moments and not by the mementoes” she adds with her quintessential laughter. Handling and juggling so many roles of an educator, political and social activist as well as a mother to two young girls – Nura and Farishta. She says that “It is not easy, in my spare time I unwind by reading, penning essays and poetry, listening to music and by keeping fit in the gym, I am a fitness enthusiast and I like to work out at least five days in a week.”