This visual story by Ufaq Fatima is the third in a series of photo essays, visual stories and artworks on the lives of Kashmiri women. The series celebrates Kashmiri women's lives, their resilience, dreams and visions in commemoration of Kashmiri Women's Resistance Day.
“Talking to people, understanding where they are coming from, what motivates them and moves them, is important to me before capturing them with my camera. A photograph becomes the subject’s story only when there is trust and empathy.”- Ufaq Fatima
Dr. Fatimah the protagonist of this narrative is a faith healer, bonesetter, herbalist and practitioner of traditional medicine. Accounts of her faith and her great gift bring men, women and children from across the valley to her homestead in Gazipora, Kulgam every day. She began her career as mid-wife over three decades ago, and by her count has brought more than four hundred babies into the world. “I see this place as a place of healing and mending. It is Allah who cures people; I am only an instrument […] I sometimes worry where these people will go after I am gone. One cannot pass this knowledge on to one’s children, it is a gift—and His grace”, she says.
Photographer Ufaq Fatima wants to tell stories. “Each day Kashmiri newspapers are loaded with statistics of killings, blindings, deaths. After a while, they become just numbers. We forget the people - the pain and strength of ordinary lives.” Ufaq’s work documents Kashmir, through everyday acts of the refusal of despair. About Doctor Fatimah, she says “She is lives as an independent woman - she has made her own world, tending to her patients, her vegetable garden, her cows. I love her self-sufficiency.”