‘I imagine the colors:’ Blind Pakistani doctor creates a world of art

1 / 12
Hassan smiles for the camera in front of some of her prized artwork at her home in Islamabad, on Sept. 14, 2019. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
2 / 12
Hassan stands next to a wooden cupboard in her home that she has designed and painted. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
3 / 12
Hassan with her painting material in the car porch of her home in Islamabad. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
4 / 12
Hassan on her iPhone, which she calls a “game-changer.” (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
5 / 12
Some of Hassan’s paintings in her home in Islamabad, yet to be framed. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
6 / 12
Hassan holding a mug, among the many, that she has painted for sale, and with all proceeds going to charity. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
7 / 12
Hassan makes tea expertly, in her home in Islamabad. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
8 / 12
Hassan hosts another member of the blind community at her home in Islamabad. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
9 / 12
Hassan choosing the right brush to begin painting in the terra cotta tiled car porch of her home in Islamabad. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
10 / 12
Hassan arranging her painting equipment in order at her home in Islamabad. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
11 / 12
Hassan is busy at work on a painting in the car-porch of her home in Islamabad. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
12 / 12
Dozens of Hassan’s paintings are framed and lovingly displayed at her home in Islamabad. (AN photo by Saba Rehman)
Updated 17 September 2019

‘I imagine the colors:’ Blind Pakistani doctor creates a world of art

  • Zarina Hasan, a doctor and graduate of Imperial College London, spends her free time with a canvas and a paintbrush
  • She lost her eyesight completely to glaucoma in 2015

ISLAMABAD: Zarina Hassan sits in her terra cotta tiled porch in Islamabad with a canvas on her lap. On the floor next to her, in a neat sequence, lies red, blue and yellow paint. She says she always keeps them in that order, because it’s the only way she can tell which color to paint her roses. 
A doctor from one of northwestern Pakistan’s most prestigious medical colleges in Peshawar, and with a master’s degree in molecular biology and pathology of viruses from Imperial College, London, Hassan lost her eyesight completely in 2015. Ten years earlier, in 2005, she was diagnosed with glaucoma, an eye condition that usually affects much older people.
Now, as the mother of three boys, Hassan said she continues to live her life as normally as possible, and painting canvases, even furniture, is a big part of that. 
“It was challenging to start life (again) with no eyesight, but I started looking for things to help me live my life normally as I had to take care of my children as well,” Hassan told Arab News.
“I completely understand life will never be the same again for me, but I wanted to make a difference and turning to painting was my resolve to make myself active,” she said.
Inside, the walls of her home are filled with the intricate oil paintings of landscapes and flowers, all framed and lovingly displayed, some bursting with color that she has created but will never see.
Hassan said she usually works with primary colors, after arranging them in order.
“I mix them with white if I’m painting something of a lighter tone. Usually, I know which color to mix with the other,” she said, and then added with a smile. “I imagine the colors, and then I paint them.”


Pakistani doctor who died of COVID-19 applauded as hero in Saudi Arabia

Updated 59 min 12 sec ago

Pakistani doctor who died of COVID-19 applauded as hero in Saudi Arabia

  • Dr. Naeem Khalid Chaudhry will be remembered for his illustrious contributions to the fields of medicine and social work — Pakistan’s Consul General
  • Colleagues say he never hesitated while treating COVID-19 patients

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s diaspora community and medical professionals in Saudi Arabia have paid rich tribute to a Pakistani general surgeon, Dr. Naeem Khalid Chaudhry, who became the first medic in the kingdom to have lost his life to the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, two days ago in Makkah where he worked in the General Surgery Department at the Hira General Hospital.
Chaudhry was 46 years old and belonged to the northeastern district of Narowal in Pakistan’s Punjab province. He moved to Saudi Arabia in 2014 with his family to work as a surgeon in Islam’s holiest city. He is survived by his wife and three daughters who also live in Makkah.
Tooba Chaudhry, the wife of the deceased doctor who also works at the Hira General Hospital as a Radiologist, said that her husband kept on performing his duties throughout the pandemic and showed mild symptoms of the disease on May 14.
“He had mild fever and complained of fatigue on May 14, and it was established that he was suffering from COVID-19 after a medical test that was performed the same day. We started treating him and he showed signs of improvement until the beginning of this month. Then suddenly his condition deteriorated which also proved fatal,” she told Arab News on Friday.
“My three daughters and I have also tested positive for COVID-19, but we are now stable. Our symptoms have disappeared, but the hospital has not called us for a second test,” she added.
“Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia and officials at the consulate general in Jeddah called me and assured full support to my family,” she continued. “The Saudi officials also allowed me to bid farewell to my husband in a fully protective outfit.”
Consul General of Pakistan in Jeddah Khalid Majid said the deceased doctor would be remembered as an indefatigable philanthropist for his illustrious contributions to the fields of medicine and social work.
“He was an important member of the medical team fighting against COVID-19 in the Makkah region. Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia has indeed lost a sincere compatriot who served humanity with zeal and sincerity,” he told Arab News on Friday.
Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki also prayed for the Pakistani surgeon while recognizing his services to the kingdom.
“I offer my condolences and prayers for the family of the Pakistani surgeon Naeem Khalid Chaudhry, who moved to the mercy of Allah Almighty due to his infection with the virus COVID-19, while performing his duty on the frontline against pandemic at Hira General Hospital in Makkah,” he said in a Twitter post.
Dr. Muhammad Irfan, Chaudhry’s colleague and close friend, told Arab News that his coworker performed his duties tirelessly and with utmost dedication.
“I was with him in the surgical department for the last six years. He was a close friend and very good surgeon. He never showed a sign of hesitation while treating the COVID-19 patients,” he said while requesting the Pakistani diplomatic mission and the Saudi authorities to look after his family.
“The whole hospital is in a state of shock since Dr. Chaudhry was very popular due to his professionalism,” Dr. Muhammad Saleem, ICU (Intensive Care Unit) specialist, at the Hira hospital told Arab News while confirming that his late colleague had contracted the virus during the course of his work.
“He [Chaudhry] got COVID-19 infection two weeks back while performing hospital duties. We used best possible hospital resources for his recovery but unfortunately he could not survive,” he added.
Dr. Asad Ullah Roomi, president of the Pakistan Doctors’ Group (PDG) in the kingdom, said all Pakistani medical professionals were in the forefront of this fight against the coronavirus pandemic along with their Saudi colleagues.
“Dr. Chaudhry was a very hardworking and skillful surgeon. He was also academically involved in the training of his juniors,” he told Arab News, adding: “He was also an active contributor to a Pakistani doctors’ charity initiative and provided free medical services to the underprivileged individuals in the Makkah region.”
Dr. Zia Ullah Dawar, a public health specialist at the Saudi ministry of health in Jeddah, remembered Chaudhry in these words: “He was a thorough professional who had never hesitated from his duty despite all its dangers.”
He also revealed that the Pakistani surgeon served about five times in the southwestern border city of Jazan on the request of the Saudi health ministry.
“Chaudhry used to help the Pakistani community in Makkah and provided free services to the deserving people,” Dawar continued. “He was about to be promoted in about a month from a surgical specialist to a consultant.”