Rubina was born and brought up in Islington, London. She was married at the age of 19 and brought up with six siblings.
She grew up with the idea that she was to have a husband and live with her in-laws.
'I was not able to study. It was one of my dreams to be a nurse. I was doing well at my education. It would have to come to an end and sacrifice my ambition in order to become a wife and daughter-in-law.’
Before she was married her mother was terminally ill. She had to give up her relationship with her only love.
‘It was like a Romeo & Juliet situation - a bit of Bollywood,' she said.
When Rubina introduced him to her mother, she felt that he seemed like a nice boy. Her mother’s wish in the end was to get her youngest daughter married. His family had a problem with Rubina because they thought that it was not traditional to have a love marriage. His siblings were university graduates. Rubina barely went beyond GCSEs. After some persuasion, they accepted their relationship. She explained that:
‘All I wanted is to be a good in law and someone I could call out to. By then I lost my mother. I took my mother-in-law like my mother. I left out my own family. They would complain that I am with my in laws all the time.’
After six months of being in the property with her in-law, she moved out with her husband and began to develop their own family home. From then on, she had her first daughter. She then had a boy.
‘I was a complete house wife. I would not go out anywhere without the husband. I felt like I was completely within four walls. I had no clue what was going on outside at all. If I had to go shopping it would be with the husband. If I had to see my GP it would be with the husband.’
Her husband was a bus driver. He wanted to carry on enjoying his life whilst she took care of the home. He was too distant from her though. He also began to make unnecessary comments, such as:
‘if anything happens to you, I would not marry another Bengali. I would probably go for a different ethnicity.’
She became depressed when he was repeatedly showing hostility towards her. He would work over time. Rubina nor her children saw her husband. His behaviour and appearance changed completely. He would dress as though he was ready for a new life. He then wanted a divorce. She lost weight and got depressed as her life went topsy turvy.
‘Three months after the divorce, I did not go out. I self-isolated myself. I was living like a zombie. Finally, bills started to come in. Whilst in self-isolation, I made a Youtube video. It went viral that I was shocked. A relative told me to come out. I met up with her.’
She took Rubina to Ben Nevis, Scotland, with other like minded women. By going there she was able to reflect on her situation. From then on she took steps to gain confidence in rebuilding her life.
She did not know anything about banking, getting a job nor how to claim state benefits. She was supported by different charities. Her GP referred her for mental health therapy. She also began to volunteer. After two years of volunteering, she was able to get her first job at WH Smith as Sales Assistant.
Whilst working at the shop part time, she studied at City & Islington College. She completed a course on phlebotomy. Once the course came to an end, she called a number of hospitals to gain work experience. She was rejected by all of them. Finally she called Whittington Hospital. They said they may have something in the near future. She called them every week and emailed them once a week. After two months of phoning and emailing, she was offered to volunteer. Two months afterw she got the job as Phlebotomy.
TIMES OF COVID
Once Covid kicked in, she had to take a step back. She was new to her role. Her manager wanted all the experienced staff to be on the front line. According to Rubina not everyone was willing to work though - many of them have children.
‘I called my manager and told him that I want to work even though I have not been with the organisation long enough. I want to be there not just for my colleagues but to help the NHS. He was very pleased with me.’
She discussed it with her ex-husband that whilst she works at the hospital, the children would be with him. She also reassured them that she is going to be safe. She asked her son:
‘if you were will, who would you go to? Doctor? Can you imagine if the doctor did not work? My son understood.'
She would go into Covid wards. Initially she would sweat and shiver due to her worries of being too close to Covid patients. She would repeatedly tell herself that she was there to do her job. As long as she was wearing protected clothing she would be fine.
Although Rubina had not encountered fatality within her immediate family due to Covid, her niece’s father-in-law did pass away. A few people she knew in the locality also passed away. It is more common with elderly in her experience.
Her ex-husband had to self-isolate himself because he had Covid symptoms. He had contacted her to seek advice on what measures he should be taking. He was also living with his elderly mother. She gave him strict instructions as to what he should do if she had Covid symptoms.
She would like to become a nurse in the long term. Her immediate career step would be to become Health Care Assistant.
Her experience in life and Covid made her believe in herself. She also encourages her children to believe in themselves. When she asked her children:
‘Who is your role model? They would say - mum it is you! Because you care for people!’, she said.