Kudos to her. She ditched marriage to join the British Army. Not something that happens often but when it does, one must salute to it. No, there is no issue with marriage but for Azi Ahmed joining the army was being part of the extraordinary. She was not afraid of failing and she had the persistence to go at it. She applied for the Special Air Service for the British Army and she made it to the induction.
Azi’s family moved from Pakistan to Britain in the 1960s. Her mother who had no knowledge of the English language asked Azi – who was in school then – to issue books from her library. Within a few years, she educated herself in the English language and opened a kebab shop all by herself in London. “I blame my mother. A tiny Muslim lady who was a force of nature,” said Azi in a report by Mirror which first reported this story. Azi’s inspiration she says comes from her mother, who held her ground and became the economic support of her family.
Azi was already earning well for herself after finishing her education getting a Masters in Media technology. By the age of 26 she had her own business, but her desire to do something new never came to a halt. But like in many Muslim families, she was being arranged for marriage by her parents. She rebelled because she wanted to achieve something first. One of her friends mentioned her partner being in the SAS and this struck with her. This idea was furthered with the memory of her father being in the British Indian Army and how it filled him with happiness talking about it.
“Intrigued, I sent off for an info pack. When it arrived I read the SAS was the ‘elite squad’ and found myself ticking the box. Hadn’t my parents always told me to aim high?”
Now she had decided to fill the form and went in for her first training test was the medical and the physical test. She thought it would be just like any other day at the gym, but she was in for the shock of her life. The workout session went on for 2.5 hours without break, above this she was giving the test with some of the strongest women who knew what the test was like. Azi was only four feet 11 inches.
She was called in for induction for further training with two hundred men and 12 women.
“We’d have to leap from our sleeping bags and do ‘section attacks’, getting into groups and ‘attacking’ our fellow soldiers as if they were the enemy; firing blank rounds using an SA80, an M16, jungle weapons, pistols.”
“I did SAS training with a Muslim woman. Really? Yes. And she stayed the course and kicked ass too!,” used to be the usual comments she would overhear her male colleagues saying.
By the time, she completed her training, the colonel who was the chief during her time reached retirement and the new colonel would not let women in the army. It shattered her heart to reach the end of SAS training and not to get inducted, but she still feels that it taught her much more about life than any training could have taught her. Now Azi has turned to politics and she participated in election for the Parliamentary Candidate from Rochdale.
picture credit- The Times