Born in Sri Lanka, resident of Wadakanchery, Sareena is now an Indian

Born in 1966, Kulsum along with her relatives migrated to Abu Dhabi for a living when she turned 18. Photo: Special arrangement.

Thrissur: “I am an Indian, finally…” 58-year-old Sareena Kulsum said with relief and pride. It was an end to a three-decade-long wait for Indian citizenship.

Sareena was born in Mathuvakkulam a remote hamlet in Puttalam district around 130 km away from Colombo – the capital of Sri Lanka. “This would be the happiest period in my life. I am thankful to the Indian government and the district administration,” said Sareena Kulsum, who collected her Indian citizenship certificate from the Thrissur Collector VR Krishna Teja on Wednesday from the Collectorate.

Born in 1966, Kulsum along with her relatives migrated to Abu Dhabi for a living when she turned 18. She started her career as a housemaid in one of the Arabs’ houses in 1990. That was the time she met Wadakanchery Kumaranellur native Chaliparambil Veettil Ali Mohammed who was working with the Abu Dhabi Municipality. The relatives of both Kulsum and Mohammed met and their marriage was fixed. The duo got married in Abu Dhabi in 1990.

“I decided to come to India when I conceived my first daughter Shareefa in 1992. I took a visa to India, came here and gave birth to her. To get permanent citizenship I was supposed to live in India for five continuous years and in 1997, I applied for citizenship. Unlike today, applying itself was a herculean task those days. I went through a series of applications, verifications, documentations… but my application was rejected. We kept on submitting all the documents required for citizenship diligently. By that time, I had given birth to two more children Arifa and Muhammed Kalfan. Today, Shareefa and Arifa are married and Kalfan is pursuing a degree,” Kulsum told Onmanorama.

On Wednesday, Kulsum received the citizenship certificate in the presence of her grandchildren Shahrin, Shezmin and Izan Mehfin and her husband Mohammed.

“I still remember my village and my childhood – Mathuvakkulam is a sandy area with lots of coconut trees and here it’s full of greenery. Though I always had an identity issue here, my kids didn’t face any issue at all,” said Kulsum who visited her ancestral home when her elder sister passed away two years ago. Kulsum’s brothers, younger sisters and relatives are still living in the Mathuvakkulam area.

“I always dreamt of performing Umrah, but only after becoming an Indian. Though Mohammed too wished the same, he decided that we would visit the Holy Kaaba together after I received the Indian citizenship. Now, my entire family is all set to start again – applying for all the identity cards including Aadhaar Card, PAN card, Voters ID, Ration Card, what not!,” said a jubilant Kulsum.

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