Friday, May 10, 2013


Ever felt like you don't exist?
Like the world is perfectly capable of, and in fact is, rotating with no help from you?
Best friends in primary school have now made a mark: they are people who worked to bring a change and for that they are now recognised.
There are others: more dedicated than you, smarter than you , better than you at your job. And you are invisible therefore.
There are political party supporters, Oscar winning women, fashion designers... all known for their corners.
People working for the elections, to bring a change. Working, in some way, for which they are recognised.
People who are making satirical videos, music, art.
People who, in every form, in every angle, are making something out of themselves.

Do you feel invisible?

You don't have the same amount of friends. The same amount of likes. You are silly when you argue.
You don't have the drop dead gorgeous looks to mesmerize with.
You do not get the same attention.

Do you even exist in their world? In this world?

Your friends aren't there anymore... you don't know when and where they all scattered. The ones who are there are not there. The tiny little bubble you lived in has popped. There's no more the delusion of being in a world inside the world. Truth is, you're alone. You're by yourself. And maybe, you're not even there.

Friday, July 13, 2012

My quarter-life crisis.

                  Best friends who pledged with you to never get married are suddenly talking about birth-control. WHAT! How does such a huge jump happen anyway? You realise that maybe you're the one who is frozen in time and space - stagnant- whereas time seems to whiz past everybody else, transforming their lives. I've hit the age where I'm officially marriage-able. I can marry or get married to someone or have a marriage. I know this because people who are my age in my family are getting engaged to be married, and the most popular girl in my Olevels batch who I would have expected to not get married till she is in her late twenties is engaged! She's not really that different to most other girls, it turns out. That shifts the standard for you-somewhere. If she can do it, then it's probably worth doing? If she can do it, then it's do-able. More importantly, if she can do it, then my ideas about marriage existing in a different world altogether were, perhaps, wrong. And about her, too. If she has changed so much, I wonder what sort of experiences she has been through, for the good and the bad. The familiar regret hits me once again. I'm still living with parents, still studying in the same old city, still not meeting people from new, different cultures. I am a twenty-something. My time is over to wish to be able to do this now. And yet, the time is here for new beginnings. I am nowhere ready to either accept the ending, or to grasp the new beginnings. This is why, perhaps, I feel that I am stagnant.
             And yet, things have changed so much. New friends, a new kinda relationship with your parents, and also, a slightly new sense of self. But they don't feel "new" enough. You're just like 'meh'. I expected more, twenties. The career you thought you'd be so successful at; it's suddenly dawning on you that it is not a booming field to have a job in, just like your dad used to tell you but you never listened to him. You fear being unemployed for a year at stretch, listening to the world's silent "We always knew you couldn't do it" taunts. Hah... certain things don't change, after all. Certain things which should have left you haven't yet. You still crave acceptance, and you still want to be popular. You still want to put on a show for all the audience wanting to see the circus. The inner peace and the confidence that you expected to develop with age hasn't come; you fear this will be the way it will always be, and this is who you'll always be. If you don't like yourself, at least work at the people enjoying the mess?
         There are realisations: the society will never change, not in your lifetime, at least. You will have to bow to some customs that you loathe in order to gain from society what you want. A give and a take- me against everybody else- doesn't place me in a very powerful position. You think to yourself that maybe all the feminist beliefs you have will have to be excused. You realise it's easier than supposed: everything is too precious to compromise till it stands in the way of your own happiness. Glass ceilings will also not break in your lifetime, your gender will stand in your way to success, motherhood will be difficult to juggle with work, just like it was for women before us whom we thought were too old to care about. The soul mate you secretly hoped for probably doesn't exist.
          You don't know whom to love and who to let go. You still don't know how to treat your parents just right. It's sad to know that those we love the most are irreplaceable; so many years wasted with company who will never come close. The irreplaceable ones are few and far in between. To reach out to them, whether to touch them on their cheeks, or offer a needy request from your lips seems too absurd to do. You wish the barriers could be broken but perhaps, that can only be when you all are living in the same city or time. Irreplaceable; it's love and dependency at the same time.
*to be continued sometime later.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The debate between feminism and family: does one even exist?

 Anne-Marie Slaughter writes in her article in The Atlantic of her "conclusion that juggling high-level government work with the needs of two teenage boys was not possible." She says that all her life "I’d been the one telling young women at my lectures that you can have it all and do it all, regardless of what field you are in." She talks about how the women she addressed at a conference "assumed and accepted that they would have to make compromises that the men in their lives were far less likely to have to make".
     In her article, she describes the level of grind her work-week required, making it clear that it was difficult, if not impossible, for her to spend any time at home with her kids. If that wasn't enough to pop my bubble, this paragraph of her article does it all: "I am hardly alone in this realization. Michèle Flournoy stepped down after three years as undersecretary of defense for policy, the third-highest job in the department, to spend more time at home with her three children, two of whom are teenagers. Karen Hughes left her position as the counselor to President George W. Bush after a year and a half in Washington to go home to Texas for the sake of her family. Mary Matalin, who spent two years as an assistant to Bush and the counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney before stepping down to spend more time with her daughters, wrote: “Having control over your schedule is the only way that women who want to have a career and a family can make it work.”"
       Her article, however, displays a misjudgement of what the word "feminism" means, as Lindy West (here) on Jezebel and Rebecca Traister (here) on Salon brilliantly note, and an assumption as to what non-working mothers learnt from their workaholic, career-oriented counterparts. She says that "We who have made it to the top, or are striving to get there, are essentially saying to the women in the generation behind us: “What’s the matter with you?”" What does this sentence portray other than the assumption that all women who weren't working yearned to have their own professional lives as they saw ambitious women like Slaughter? And, also, that they felt insecure as all-rounded women of their inability to have a career alongside a family? As I learnt in Jurisprudence class, the limits of Liberal Feminism (a school of thought aimed at establishing equal rights of women to that of the men) are that they project upon the rest of the women the same aims, feelings and opinions that liberal feminists have. I owe them a lot; my right to be heard and seen in public in the world has been carefully and beautifully protected and asserted by them. A few legal cases in the US of A were decided more fairly in reference to gender discrimination, reflecting the truth of the voice of liberal feminism due to the hard work of such feminists. However, a criticism Liberal Feminism faces is that it seeks to make women equal to men, thereby, upholding the standard of men as the ultimate. Many women do not want to be like men; they don't want full-fledged careers or the lack of opportunity to nurture their children. As Marilyn Monroe has reported to have said,"Women who seek to be equal to men, lack ambition." This is not saying that women may, or do, not do so if they please; to say so would be taking the exact stance that we are criticising Liberal Feminism for: women can and should be able to want whatever it is that they want. A definition of how a woman should be like is obstructing the triumph of women. Hence, Slaughter's previous conviction that going after success on the professional front because that is what feminism demands is perhaps, misplaced. Moreover, the way she asserts that her own achievements implied to other women not taking the same route that they must do the same also carries with it assumptions. Many women are perfectly content with staying at home. Not every woman feels the need to work outside home to be successful or to have an identity.
     Another observation which made me think was the sentence said by Slaughter's peer,"When a woman starts thinking about having children, Sandberg said, “she doesn’t raise her hand anymore … She starts leaning back.”" Is that true, I wonder? If it is, if the woman's ability to bear children makes her "soft" and, in anyway unable to deal with the strong, aggressive world, then why is it that we are still partaking in the Nature vs Nurture debate? Quite obviously, the ability to bear children is biological. If women are biologically inclined to go soft, and thereby, lose focus in their work by having children, then why haven't sociologists and scientists yet not determined that gender IS reflective of our biological nature? That women are biologically inclined to be maternal and tender? During my marathon of "Grey's Anatomy" where I started watching the show all over again from the first season (do not judge), Dr.Bailey who is called "the Nazi" throughout the show for her no-nonsense attitude says, after giving birth to a child, and i quote:  "I went soft. I... had a baby, and I swore that it wouldn't change me, it's just-- it does change you. I got tired, I got busy, and I stopped teaching. I stopped teaching when you needed a teacher the most."
       What is pop culture teaching us? That women, by their ability to become mothers, are not capable of matching up to men in the world if they so seek? Or is this simply the truth? Like, Slaughter notes, is becoming a mother an obstruction in the way of achieving the capability in your career? Some Radical Feminists observe that motherhood, in fact, traps the woman. They believe that man has progressed so much throughout life because they have control over nature, whereas women are still dependent on the timings of their pregnancy, birth control, and child-bearing. How absurd it is that they seek to hide the one glorification the female sex has been given by nature! In our culture of Pakistan, whether or not a woman is respected in her own right, her right as a mother is often revered. It seems superfluous to me that some would twist the gift of motherhood as a negative; what are you doing then but aiming to make women into men? Coming to the more relevant point, is this true? Are most women really inclined to go soft when they fulfill biological roles? Slaughter says that women are biologically inclined to choose a family over a job if the choice ever arises, whereas most men would choose a job over family. She acknowledges that men do not love their children any less than women, but that they have a different way with dealing with issues at home, let's say, a hurting child at home. She says that women don't feel as comfortable as men do for being away from home during work, and the following is how she asserts her opinions:
"A simple measure is how many women in top positions have children compared with their male colleagues. Every male Supreme Court justice has a family. Two of the three female justices are single with no children. And the third, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, began her career as a judge only when her younger child was almost grown. The pattern is the same at the National Security Council: Condoleezza Rice, the first and only woman national-security adviser, is also the only national-security adviser since the 1950s not to have a family."
    Again, the debate about nurture vs nature comes in: am I bound to be less focused to my work than my male peers only because I have a biological impulse to be a mother? Some law firms in Pakistan have a strict, explicit policy against hiring women lawyers. The idea there is that women lawyers and associates, after being trained and groomed by the law firms in their career, will choose to spend time away from work, or leave work completely, if they marry or become pregnant. Male lawyers, on the other hand, seem to be better guarantees as investments. While I was interning at a law firm, my female boss, about to get married, told me how glad she was of finding a companion in life. She said that her worst fear had been to stay single all her life because most successful women in the field of law that demands long hours and tenuous work seem to have no families. 
   Slaughter talks about how women can strike a balance, which may mean a slower career, but a more "content" lifestyle: "when they turn down promotions to remain in a job that works for their family situation; when they leave high-powered jobs and spend a year or two at home on a reduced schedule; or when they step off a conventional professional track to take a consulting position or project-based work for a number of years. I think of these plateaus as “investment intervals.”" What I don't understand is why shouldn't men  have to do this, too? Why are we still hanging onto notions of the man primarily being the breadwinner and the woman being the nurturer? Although Slaughter destroys all notions of the possibility of winning half the battle of having it all by having a supportive husband, I feel that it does not help matters that whereas women are often running home from work to spend time with their children, men are not. Why is the male entitled to skip out on quality family time or bringing up his children, but if the woman does it, she is a "bad mother"? A comment by someone who identified himself or herself by the title "snarkalicious"  on Slaughter's article noted: "For some reason, it's a foregone conclusion that men will be absent from family life for the demands of work. Why saddle women with so much guilt for doing the same thing?" Although Slaughter achieved a lot of support and encouragement from her husband who spent more time with their children than Slaughter herself, something virtually unheard of in our society, she felt that she needed to spend more time with her children for herself, rather than for anyone else like the society or her husband. This begs the question: why don't men feel the same way when they are away from home for better jobs, higher promotions, or more salary?! Why shouldn't my husband face the option of staying at home while I work to look after the kids? A colleague who has graduated and tried her hands at litigation recently said to me,"People used to tell me that litigation is not for women-and I was like fuck you, but now I'm telling you the same thing." Being engaged and set to marry in a few months, she said if she started coming home at 10pm or so, her husband and/or her in-laws would obviously not like it. Let's pause here. Husband and in-laws wouldn't like it? Am I the only one who thinks of this as blatant patriarchy? A man is entitled to work for as long as he wants, come home whenever he pleases even if it includes other recreational activities rather than work, but if a woman chooses to do so, it is not right? I'm not kidding myself: I know this is how society is, and perhaps, tomorrow I will be doing the same thing. In fact, it may even be something I'd consider ideal or preferable for myself. I don't want to be called a hypocrite later. People change, whether men or women, and their likes, dislikes, roles, aims and preferences change too. Who knows where I'll be a few months or years down the lane, or what I'd prefer? What people don't realise, however, is that women working is often not a privilege. It is a necessity. Most of our maids are the only earning members of their families. They bust their asses 24/7 while their husbands are lying somewhere, OD-ing on drugs. Increasingly, women in middle-class families are taking up the option to work; gone are the days when only one person earning was adequate to sustain a family economically. Women rise up and decide to divide the workload with their husbands. It's sad and almost disgusting, then, that men aren't so keen on sharing their wives household duties or acknowledging their duties as fathers which consist more than just dropping them to school.
      But let's turn the facts in the story a little bit: I take offence to the fact that a man is entitled to have any career he wants, no matter what it means for his family, but am I ready to consider an unemployed man as worthy of my attention? Obviously not. Nothing spells "run, now!" to most girls more than a man who is either chronically unemployed, unambitious or loading off his father (read: wadeirey ka beta). Yet, quite obviously, women in Pakistan don't face the same issue.They can lounge around at home waiting to get married without having to answer anyone-less responsibilities, more freedom. The point is that their careers or salaries do not define them. That is a privilege in its own. Then why does it make me, a woman who does not have the pressure of earning enough money to sustain a family, still completely entitled to object to the discrimination and the sexism she faces when she comes out to assert her place outside of the home? Simply because, I want to. I, a woman, want to fight the battle outside home and this alone makes it a right of mine to be given the same, if not more, opportunities that men are entitled to. Men may not have the luxuries that women have of escaping the life outside into the safety of their homes, but that is another, albeit, a valid, battle to fight. So, all my male classmates who look at me when I rant about injustice to women and say,"You're actually lucky because you don't have the responsibility of maintaining a family", I may be lucky that I don't have that responsibility, but that does not make it okay for me to be unlucky in other matters. 
On a different note though, something tugs at my conscience. The question remains: Is it double standards if I want a man who thinks it perfectly normal his wife work outside home however much she wants, but I can't accept a man who doesn't leave the house at all or earn money for his house and family? And if it is double standards, then really, what right do I have to assert anything? 
       Toure in an article on Time says about "having it all": "I have all the respect in the world for the impossible challenges working moms face. The battle is not the same for men; it is not as tough. We don’t have both the maternal voice and the feminist voice in our heads telling us we should be at home nurturing our kids and also at work building fulfilling careers. But it’s nearly impossible for men to have it all too. Many men want fulfilling family lives. I want that even as I fulfill my familial role by providing. But most of the time I feel like I’m not involved enough in either my career or my kids’ lives." Aha! That's a novel idea, then. So, I can almost hear you saying, 'this means not only can women not have it all, but men can't either?' That is exactly what this means. No one can have it all, because having it all, like Lindy West says, does not exist at all. This is how West describes "it all": "completely made-up, baseless magical construct that doesn't mean anything."
My problem with Slaughter's article, then, is the title: "Why Women Still Can't Have It All." That is my number one problem because it implies that while women can't have it all, men can! This makes it almost inevitable for some women either to satisfy themselves with being "the weaker sex", whether or not they choose to call a spade a spade ("men are just different"-most will choose to say) or by pining to match up, and maybe, even killing themselves in the process. 
    The fact that it is okay for fathers to be away from home in our culture is reflected in these words of Toure: "My dad didn’t have it all, but he never seemed to worry about it. For many years he ran his own accounting business in Mattapan, Mass., and during tax season we barely saw him. He drove us to school and that was the last we saw of him until the next day’s drive. He taught me that a man is a provider. If that means working long hours and missing out on some key family moments, then so be it. I knew my dad loved me because he was always at the office. He was far from an absent father, but he did not achieve the balance I’d like to have. Alas, as I write this, my wife is putting the kids to bed by herself. I’ll get home later and kiss them asleep in their beds." He further states,"Men are more likely than women to choose work at a cost to family. Perhaps they suffer less emotionally over that, but there’s still pain there. We just push the feelings down and don’t complain. That’s why our side of this story rarely gets told. We must push away the hurt and press on, or revel in the joy of providing and forget about all that we’re missing at home because we’re working. But the hurt is still there." 
   Now, I don't know whether I'm just feeding the stereotype that men "don't complain", or "push away the hurt" and "hide from their feelings" crap, but this article makes it more plausible that women's woes of having responsibility towards home is more-so ingrained in what they are brought up to believe, rather than in their biology. I am NOT saying that all women should stop staying at home and get out there and do what they want-throwing the children on their husbands to take care of. Please do not issue a fatwa against me for trying to destroy family life. What I am saying is, maybe, if men effectively, actually shared more of domestic and family responsibilities, women may be able to have at least half of as much as them. Indeed, this is why I have always believed that amazing assets to feminism can be men. This culture change does not mean men choosing to stay home on Sunday and proudly flashing their invisible "Best Dad of the Week" tiara. No. It means that they share the responsibilities with the women, that is, they not only do this as a favour upon the female species, but they do so as something they are obligated to do, as fathers, as husbands, and more importantly, as humans. 
        This culture-change is far too in the distance to heed. Right now, we have 'bigger' battles to fight like bringing up able leaders for our country, deciding upon whether Gillani's disqualification was constitutional or not, fighting terrorism, and, alas, fighting domestic violence is on its own a huge challenge for the people of Pakistan to now also beseech a culture-change which actually grants women the right to have their opinions. It is idealistic. Slaughter, for instance, thinks that the solution lies in changing the professional structure to accommodate women who have families. This means, for example, more flexible working hours, or a work environment that is friendly to women carrying their newborn babies to the office, I guess. Until that is done, she says, women can not have it all. This is essentially what Radical Feminists (feminists that assert that women are different, but equal to men) say. That the entire superstructure of society is made by men for men, and it largely ignores the needs of women. 
      All women do not want the same thing. Some want to be single, others want to be not-single. Some want to work, others want to be housewives. Some want to be mothers, others don't. To categorize all women as the same kind of human being is the flaw in Slaughter's idea, one that Traister and West eloquently shed light upon. But, what if, I  choose to do want it all? Leaving aside whether or not it is physically possible for anyone to have it all due to his or her human limitations, and whether or not I actually want a family or a career personally, am I digging myself a pit to fall into if this was what I wanted? If I wanted to be a hands-on mother, bringing up my children myself alongside wanting an intense career, would I be living in a bubble? If, my husband, like a mature learned man (couldn't help but sublimely send a message, too), thought it to be as much responsibility of his as it would be of mine to be close to our children physically, wouldn't I still find it difficult to be away from them? Slaughter may be correct when she says it is a biological need, or maybe, it is Traister and West who are correct in saying that to be a "good" mother is perhaps only what we are socialized into wanting to be, but the questions remains: for whatever reason, biology or culture, if I want to be a mother and successful in my career, is it possible? Perhaps not. And if not, then how do thousands of women seem to do it? How do women like Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Fehmida Mirza, for instance, do it? More importantly, with all the risks of sounding idealistic while I pose this question to the Pakistani society: why don't we ask the same question of men! Why don't we ask them whether it is possible to be good fathers AND be highly successful? Quite obviously, the definition of a 'good father' demands a lot less than the definition of a 'good mother' in our society, and this is not to take away due credit from our fathers who do just as much, if not more, for us than our mothers. This is to take credit away from the stance that says while men are more able, women are not. Will I 'go soft' whenever I become a mother, so as to negatively affect my work? Are some women correct in saying that women who go out to work and attempt to balance work and family are discouraging women's roles as mothers by even having the audacity to question whether a gift such as motherhood has any negative affects? Do feminist men really exist, or saying that you know one is essentially the same thing as saying you saw a unicorn? Is it possible to be the best mother and wife possible while having a career that requires long hours? Is it selfish for women to choose careers over family? If so, why isn't the same applicable to men?

Links that this post referred to:
Anne-Marie Slaughter's article Why Women Still Can't Have It All:

Toure's article:

Lindy West's article:

Rebecca Traister's article:

*Update after having watched a few more episodes of Grey's Anatomy: In a couple of episodes later, the Chief address Dr.Bailey about her concerns about having a baby making her "soft", and says,"Compassion and empathy are a big part of the job. I don't care what Savoy said, and I know I haven't always been supportive, but being a parent makes you a better doctor."
**This post does not invite consideration of gender roles as laid down in any religion. 
*** The title of my post is not implying that feminism may only mean the advent of all excluding family. Rather, it seeks to assert that feminism means that women can choose whatever they want for themselves: whether family, career, or anything else. There is no one way better than another.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

To all concerned administrators of academic institutions, examination boards, and Mr. Pir Mazahar ul Haq, Minister of Education:

"I refuse to accept that I am doing something wrong. My kids are hard working. They study day and night. But to see them be defeated in this rat race just because I refuse to encourage them to cheat, whereas other students who usually don't work half as hard get rewarded with top marks because they are copying textbooks word to word...that does not sit well with me. Initially I used to lecture my children on the importance of honesty. But as time went by, due to the relative marking, my children's percentile as compared to others came out to be lower and lower; reason being that the others would get away with doing nothing, as long as they were copying textbooks, whereas my children who worked so hard would not achieve anything in comparison. Jobs and universities demand high percentiles...they won't choose my children over the other students even though it is my children who are actually educated. It's unfair. I told them to do this too... now when I can, I hand them pages of textbooks to stuff in their pockets. I am sorry, but I don't have a chance. I need them to get  what they deserve. And since that does not happen, I am ready to let them have what they don't deserve, because everyone else is getting the same."
       That's what a father, standing outside the exam centre of an Inter exam in Karachi, was overheard as saying to another parent. The policemen guard the centre gates. They do. They roughly ask the students to show their ID cards before being granting permission to enter. The children take out their ID cards, but the policeman does not bother to look at them. Just having one seems to be enough, whether or not it is of the student claiming identity. A man who looked close to 30 flashed an ID card in front of the policeman
s face; he glanced at it and let him go. A 30 year old man? Does he look like an 18 year old to you?
      Another day, a couple of men on a motorcycle were overheard talking amongst one another,"Today they have police!". Promptly, they made a phone call using their cell phone. A man came from inside the centre, gestured to the men to follow him, and took them inside. There appeared no need for the police to check them as they had been beseeched by someone from the administration. 
      Inside, it is an anomaly of sorts. Almost all students are carrying pages of torn textbooks of written formulas in their pockets. Some of them carry their school bags, full of the requisite books. The invigilators take money from the students in exchange of letting them copy their books, verbatim. Every student knows this. It is for this reason that they are always carrying cash in their pockets. Once or twice, an invigilator comes into the exam room and says,"Those candidates who feel there is too much noise here can shift to the other room." Noise in an exam room? Aren't seats allocated as per candidate numbers? Other room? The other room is where those who have paid up can cheat openly. Not that staying in the same room with students who haven't paid to be able to cheat will be an issue... as if what's happening now is really hidden knowledge.
        On an exam day, in such a room, perhaps due to a lack of textbooks to copy from, all answers to the exam questions were written on the blackboard by the invigilator for the students to copy. There can be no blatant mockery of education and rules like in our very own Inter exam centres.  

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Amidst this poverty, do we also have to face the bullets?"

A first-hand narrative of someone who lives in Lyari and has been witnessing the Lyari Operation: 

They were given weapons. They used to help rich businessmen bhathas. But they also helped us all. If I wanted to get my daughter married and didn't have enough money, they would help. But increasingly, they got more and more powerful. The government was the one who created them.
   In the middle, the rangers operation had finished them. They took away all their weapon. They used to roam around Lyari but could not do much on their own. A year back, they took my neighbour's son. They accused him of being a spy. They beat him up to the extent that when he returned, his ears swollen. It was that bad. They told him we will not leave you. We will kill you. His parents made him run away to their village because they were scared.
   On Thursday, this operation started. Today is the seventh day. There is nothing left in Lyari. It is nothing but a graveyard. There is nothing to eat. No open shops. When one store eventually opens, there is such a long queue of people trying to get something to eat, that even if you stand in line from morning till evening, your turn won't come. Mostly, there isn't even a queue. There is so much snatching and shoving; everyone is trying to get food for themselves. Whatever little you manage getting falls on the floor and is stepped on. Once I was standing in the queue under the sun, just because I had to get something to eat for my children, when we heard, "They're here, run!" and I had to run away without anything.
     There are bullets all around. Bullets like rain. Only the civilians are dying. The ordinary people are dying, that is all. You think we don't have enough to face? Amidst this poverty, do we also have to face the bullets?
Do we feed our kids or do we face the bullets?
    It's all poverty. I blame it all on poverty. Today, if I don't have a means of earning to feed my kids, I will pick up a gun. I will do whatever I have to in order to feed my children. I will also steal, if need be. It's due to poverty, that's all.
  There is no food, no water, no gas. Today is the seventh day. There is no food to eat at home. Whoever comes in the police's reach, they say,"Oh he is part of the gang, take him!". Everyone who has lost their lives thus far were all innocent. They were ordinary people. You ask what will happen? Nothing will happen. There is no solution. It will go on like this.
 Yesterday, they kidnapped my husband. He was on his way to look for work. They took him amidst other men. They said, make some noise. Protest against the Operation in Lyari. They took him to the rally. On the way, the police came across them and they fired. Two or three people got shot. People started running here and there. It was because of this that my husband got a chance to escape.
   It is so bad. Whether it is the gang or the police itself, no one lets us work. We can't leave our houses. I have to sneak out. No one listens. I don't have enough money to get a house at a safer place. I have two younger daughters. It is so unsafe to leave them there by themselves. But what do I do? We already have so much to deal with. Wasn't that enough?
Where my mother lives, it is even worse. She is stranded. She is stranded inside her home since days. If anyone gets out of their homes, the gang orders them to join them. If it's the police that spots them, they say,"Oh they must be of the gang, take them!"
    How do they have so much weapon? They must have some support. And it's not the usual weapon. It is weapon that even the police don't have. How do they have so much of it? And where is it coming from?
When they were supporting the government, they were good. Now when they are against the government, they are suddenly so bad? Look at my elbow. That day I tripped and fell and bruised my elbow. I still have not bandaged it. There is no doctor's open. Where do I go?
   If any of you could come and see how the condition is like, you would cry. But there is no solution. Our life will go on like this only. There are so many dead bodies lying around. Of ordinary people. People like you and me...or just me. We are the poor. We can only bathe the dead if we have water. There is no water to bathe the dead with. Yesterday, two little children were shot. A woman was carrying her child. Before she knew it, her child had gotten shot. He is admitted in Civil hospital as of now. I think media covered it. The mother is devastated.
    Live together. Why can't we all? We are all Pakistanis.

Me: Isn't it better if this "gang" is finished for once and for all?

No, they can never be finished. If one goes, two will get up. If two go, three will get up. There is no way that they will ever finish. They say, so many other areas are also infamous. There is Malir, there is Katti Pahari, why no operation there? Today, everyone has a gun in Lyari. Even those who keep it just to protect themselves. The police also take the innocent. The ones that the police should actually be arresting are nowhere to be found. All these dacoits are born because you when you do catch them, you don't punish. You leave them because they bribe you or give you their share. Because of that, they don't cease.
The police can't do anything. They can't even step inside Cheel Chowk which is the main area. Today, we heard that the police went a little closer to Cheel Chowk. But I am telling you, they won't let them come inside. There is no way that the police will be able to. Not possible. If the government knew them to be so dangerous, why did it support them in the first place? Sometimes, the police also used to come and take bhathas from them.
Pakistan aisey hi chalega. It is wrong to say that the gang will be finished. If one dies, two will rise.
Think about it. Where does the weapon come from? The police is guarding the area from all around. Then how does the weapon come inside? It's been seven days. How is their weapon and their bullets still not finished? Aslah kia aasman se aaraha hai? They're just scaring the ordinary man, that is all. You tell this room, right now, there are only two people, you and I. No one is coming in and no one is going out. This glass of sherbet lying next to you.. how did it get here? You have had half of it. If it refills, how did it get refilled? How is the sherbet getting here? It's very dangerous weapon also. Is it coming from the earth below us all? Or is it coming from the sky? Does some helicopter come in the middle of the night and give them more weapon? How is it that their weapon is infinite?
There is no progress since the day this operation started. Either the police will finish, or the gang will, or the people will. And it will be the people.
Now you see how much this gang will rise. Obviously they will rise. They are very powerful and they are relentless. They are not the kind of people to back down. The government should have had talks with them.
How is it that the government can't finish the gang? They say we will fight India, we will do that. They can't even finish this gang in their own country? How do they say they will fight for the country? There is no solution for Pakistan. ALLAH keh rehm-o-karam par chal raha hai.  
They are relentless. They will not back down. Lyari is in the absolute worst condition. Nothing to eat, nothing to drink. No one can go out to earn. I don't know what will happen. If they want to kill the gang, kill them. But don't kill us. Don't kill the women and the children and the innocent men. The women shout and scream in protest. The police say to them,"Shut up. You are the gang's people." So what? We are all Balochis. We are all Pakistanis.
All we want is peace. That is all we want.
Think about it. A child is born to their parents. The parents do everything for him. They do all that they can, and they fight this poverty for him. They feed him, and clothe him. Try to educate him. And when he turns twenty or so...a 50rs bullet takes him away from them. Ask us how we have suffered. You can't even imagine. How it is for a mother to lose her son like that. That's how the story of our life ends. Even I don't know whether I will reach home today or not. I could either get shot on the way or be set ablaze when they are setting everything on fire in protest. Us people will end like this. Either by hunger or by bullets. Whether we are at the police's mercy or at the gang's, either way we lose. It all starts at poverty and ends at poverty. We are the poor. Our lives are like that of insects. There is no end. It will go on like this. One day you will hear I have also died.*

*'They' refers to the people against whom the Lyari Operation is being conducted.
*'Gang' refers to the same, in the speakers' words.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I do not entertain house guests

Sitting on my bed, 338 am, with an open juris book next to me and writing this shit. *sigh* Something must be wrong.
 You know what I hate the most? When people come in to your lives like some piece of a missing puzzle which you never knew even existed... So many times, if you look back to a time in your life, you may not realise that people who make such an integral part of your life today, weren't even known to you back then. Suddenly, they appear in your life, make themselves accustomed to your life, get their space...they pick a place, like that blue beanbag in your room that your particular friend always chooses to sit on when he visits? Just like that, they pick a place in your life and they occupy that place. It's like they were always there. You cannot remember life without them, even though, there were definitely times when life was never about them. I think of my friends now, whom I spend the majority of my days with. They weren't even there in my life two to three years back. And to think I never felt the need to have somebody like that. Right now, I feel like my life is complete, in the sense that I have everyone whom I love Mashaa'ALLAH. But tomorrow, I may come across a person who will end up being my best friend for the coming ten years or so. Or, I might start working in a place where interacting with my colleagues will take most of my day. Or the traditional notion of falling in love. Or getting married and moving with your in-laws... It's weird how they all form a part of your life, as if they always were there. So, back to the point. What I hate the most is when people come in to your lives and occupy a central-ish position, and suddenly decide to withdraw. WTF, dude?! You've made me used to seeing you on that beanbag! You're leaving my life's puzzle all incomplete now, by going! I hate it when people do that. They challenge the way things are. They mess with my mind and make me want to feel like I need them, and just when I start doing that, they decide they don't like this place at all.
                  Make up your mind. Come, stay. You are welcome. But only if you make my life your home. I do not entertain house-guests.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Where are you God?

Update: A friend sent me these lovely words after reading this post. It felt like it was a message from God, and He intended me to read them. These were the words: "Adam asked God 'why don't you make everyone equal in this world?'. God replied,"I want to see whether people who I have blessed with everything are thankful to me or not. And people who I have not blessed with everything can be patient for me or not. If any of them fail to thank and have patience, God will ask them on the Day of Judgement."

Where are you God, when you see so much wretchedness in the world?

Where are you, when injustice takes place on your earth?

Where are you, when children bully zui in a way to damage his life-long self-esteem?

Where are you, when your creation isn't enough to take care of himself? You created him. You created him lesser than everyone else, you created him inadequate. Where are you? You have left him to suffer, alone, due to your will.

Where are you? When people are made to rub their heads on others' feet? When they are helpless, humiliated, in agony?

Where is your mercy then? Where is your love? Where is your kindness?

Where are you when you see women being stoned to death which is a horrific interpretation of YOUR religion?  When they're stuck in the earth....and they can't move...and a stone after stone, hits them on their face and makes them bleed?

Where are you...when my baby feels inadequate. The pain of helplessness, of not being good enough. Why don't you help him? Why don't you stop the others?

Where are you? Why are you quiet? Do you not see? Why don't you respond? Are you there???

Where were you when I saw a woman screaming at her maid for no reason? What about that suffering just because of poverty? I am guilty of doing the same at times...where were you for my maids?

Where are you....I ask you.... when women are harassed and made to stay silent?

When a family including an innocent kid is slaughtered in Canntt, where are you?

Either you are not there. Or you are not as loving and kind as you make yourself to be.