On October 23, her 28th birthday will be un-celebrated.
On October 23, her family and friends will pray for her soul.
On July 20, 2021, she was murdered.
Her name was Noor Mukadam.
The youngest of the three children, older sister and brother, Noor was the baby of the family, doted on, always loved. Her parents pampered her like parents who unconditionally love their children do. And she loved them back just as much. Her happiness was her family. Doing things with her mother made her happy. Waiting for her father to return from office made her happy. Their simple little world, their bigger-than-the-sky love for one another.
Noor’s father used to cut her favourite fruit for her, one of their daily rituals. When her parents visited their relatives or friends, Noor accompanied them. When her parents had guests over, Noor always helped.
Despite the eight-nine-year age difference, Noor was very close to her sister. Her friends called them twins. Her nephew was someone she adored. Spending time with him was one of her happy things. His videos that she constantly watched made her giggle like a child.
Noor’s friendships mattered the world to her. One of her best friends says, “Noor accumulated a girl gang everywhere she went. All her closest friends were women. Anyone who met her would immediately think of her as a sincere, trustworthy person. It made her unhappy that she couldn’t be with her best friends as we all lived in different countries. The distance saddened her, and she always asked us to move back to Pakistan.”
One of Noor’s favourite things to do in Islamabad, her best friend says, was to “visit her friends’ homes and have their mothers’ cooked meals. The most supportive, the most loving friend, Noor used to make handmade cards for her friends when she couldn’t attend their birthday parties. She was the only bridesmaid at my wedding, and she handmade me a sash and a crown. I once told her I was craving brownies. An hour later she showed up at my house with a freshly baked batch wearing her oven mitt as the tray was still hot. Noor always visited her friends to cheer them up when they were unwell or depressed, oftentimes with snacks.”
One of Noor’s best friends, a resident of the US, had planned a surprise visit on Noor’s birthday in October. She will never see Noor again.
Noor’s degree in international relations was almost finished. Her interest in the dynamics of governance globally was the reason for her internship at a think tank.
A very talented artist, Noor loved to paint. In her room she painted with acrylics a beautiful mural, and that led to her first commissioned work: a mural of a galaxy. Noor did not get a chance to start it. Her life was taken away.
One more thing Noor wanted to do after the pandemic was to travel to Pakistan’s northern areas. Pakistan was her home, and her favourite holiday destination. Despite having travelled around the world, the only place she felt at home was Pakistan. Nathiagali was one of her favourite holiday spots that she loved to visit with her best friend and her family.
Because of her love for animals, Noor often babysat her best friend’s cats. Adopting a cat and a dog was one of her plans. That was another dream that was severed.
The 5’8, petite Noor who wore fluffy socks and warmed her hands on her ever-present mug of green tea in the winter and fed stray animals and liked thrillers and comedies and loved Mulan and repeat-binged on Friends and didn’t like to eat oily purrian and was addicted to Nando’s Peri Bites, exclaiming “too spicy” on every bite, valued every bit of her life. Her life that was cut too, too short.
As everyone in her life knew, Noor radiated positivity. The happy-go-lucky Noor turned even a bleak situation into a hopeful one. In everything, in everyone, she always looked for beauty and goodness. There was no one she judged. She disliked liars and people who gaslit women.
With her bright-as-the-sun smile, Noor always found it easy to befriend children and elderly people. As her best friend says, “Noor would always go out of her way to make people feel comfortable. Meeting her once was enough for people to know what she was like. Her beauty was inside and out.”
Her best friend talks about Noor’s faith as something essential to Noor’s existence: “Noor was deeply religious. She never missed a namaz, and even during friends’ get-togethers, she’d slip away to say her prayers. She had performed Hajj with her parents. Noor’s identity was synonymous with being Muslim, and she was truly proud of her faith.”
A friend of Noor and her sister wrote in Brown Girl Magazine, “Not once do I remember Noor getting angry. She always remained kind and sweet. I never saw her talk back to anyone, speak ill of anyone, or be rude to anyone. She had many friends, wherever she went in the world. People instantly liked her for being herself. That is a testament to her family and upbringing. Despite having lived all over the world, all three Mukadam children are unassuming, generous, and genuine.”
Now there are two Mukadam children.
Noor with stars in her eyes loved life and her family and her friends and was good to everyone. Noor with brightness that was uniquely her own dazzled everyone with her artless love, her earthy humility, her generous warmth, her endless empathy, her unconditional loyalty, her unaffected laughter, her simple dreams. Noor like her name was a beautiful, luminous human being.
Noor’s life was taken in a murder most foul. But Noor’s light will remain untouched, whole, resplendent, always.
May Allah dismantle the systems that allowed Noor to suffer.
May Allah demolish the powers that perpetuate violence against women.
May Allah give her family strength.
May Allah give her family justice.
Noor is watching.
Noor is waiting.