Entrepreneur Shukoor Ahmed’s book, dedicated to his wife, literally.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Shukoor Ahmed has spent the better part of three decades making a name for himself as an entrepreneur and venerable community leader for the local desi population of Washington, DC. But this month, in commemoration of his 25th wedding anniversary, Ahmed published a book entitled “Twenty5: A Tribute to My Wife on Our 25th Anniversary” to honor his wife Nabeela’s crucial role in their marriage, and to express his undying gratitude and affection towards her.
“Throughout the years, Nabeela has been a super spouse who has contributed more than anyone could have ever expected,” said Ahmed in a statement. “I wanted to do something unique for her about a year ago to express my gratitude to her. I thank both of our daughters who were instrumental in helping me put this tribute together in such a short period of time.”
The book – which can be purchased on Kindle e-Book format from Amazon – is relatively short at just under 80 pages and plays out in chronological order and charts the course of Ahmed’s relationship with his wife, beginning with a short bio of her before going into how Nabeela and he met and their marriage was arranged. Since she and her family were already living in the US, in Landover Hills, Maryland, Ahmed stayed with them for over a month before finding his own apartment in 1988. The couple then got married on January 5, 1989.
“In my view, the most admirable act of Nabeela in 1988 was when she helped me buy a car,” he explains in an account of one of his wife’s earliest gestures of generosity. “I had moved to the U.S. with a few thousand dollars in my pocket and I had already exhausted much of it by the time I was ready to buy a car. On top of that, I had no credit established. I couldn’t afford to buy a car alone. Nabeela immediately wrote the difference from her account, which was about $1,200 to pay in full. I should have known that this was just the start of a lifetime of generous contributions.”
The book has an interesting, unusual, but effective organization style. It is divided into 26 chapters, with each chapter representing one year in their marriage and an extra chapter at the beginning for the year before they were married. At the end of each chapter, Ahmed includes a section entitled “Lesson Learned,” in which he summarizes the main takeaway he experience from the events of that particular year, similar to how a textbook summarizes the key lessons of each chapter.
That style, though predictable and somewhat dry, would be a problem were it not for the incredible amount of heart and the depth of feeling that Ahmed breathes into his prose. By including numerous photographs and sharing immense amounts of personal details, Ahmed invites the reader into his own life, and we take this 25 year journey with him and Nabeela. The no-frills writing style gives the book a realism that would be lacking had it been written in a more traditional manner.
Ahmed talks candidly about his failed bids for Congressional seats – including a brief but illuminating anecdote about only spending $21,000 out of $66,000 raised for his campaign a few years ago, and Nabeela telling him he should return the money to those who donated it – and the toll it took on his wife and two daughters. Many of the lessons at the end of each chapter talk about the difficulties of marriage, and how it’s necessary for spouses to support each other no matter what may happen.
“I think my wife loves me… Love does not ask, it only gives endlessly,” is the title of one of the “Lessons Learned.” “There is no way Nabeela would have supported me or my family if she didn’t have an incredible amount of love in her heart. She is a big giver (as most women are). I just began to see it more and more in her this year.”
The honesty and emotion of Ahmed’s writing elevates “Twenty5” from being a self-laudatory pamphlet about surviving marriage for a quarter-decade and make it a frank and touching dissection of what marriage – and, by extension, love – is really about. To that end, Ahmed concludes the book by admitting that while he may not have lived up to every promise he made 25 years ago, he’s more than ready to make up for it now.
“Now it is my time to give back to Nabeela for all that she has given me,” says the book’s penultimate line. “And boy, am I ready for the challenge!”
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