Begum Rokeya was born in a village called Pairaband in what is now Rangpur. Her father was a well-educated landowner and had a keen interest in education but maintained a strict rule of the Islamic code of pardah (veil) for the women in the family. That is why, while her brothers got the opportunity of schooling, she was deprived of education. Rokeya and her elder sister, Karimunnessa, were deeply interested in learning Bengali and English. Their elder brother Ibrahim, who had a great influence on their lives, taught them the languages. They did that at night, while everyone else was asleep, so as not to arouse anyone's suspicion. She got married at a very early age and had a huge age difference with her husband, Khan Bahadur Sakhawat Hossain, then the deputy magistrate of Bhagalpur. He, however, supported female education and helped his wife improve her Bangla and English skills. Gradually, she mastered the two languages. Her husband also encouraged her to write and Rokeya eventually adopted Bangla as the principle language of her writing. The role of these two men in her life was crucial and needs to be recognised, so that today's men can understand the importance of their own role in the transformation of the lives of women in our society.