Stories about families

My husband is deployed in the inhospitable terrain of Waziristan

Nowadays, various television channels have taken to playing emotional songs about sons and fathers joining the army, going on active duty and dying at the line of duty. It might be motivating for the general public, but what happens to the families of these soldiers can be comprehended neither by the channels nor by their producers. It is very difficult to satisfy a three-year-old when she asks, after watching the song, if her father is going to meet the same tragic fate because she believes that her father is the bravest. It is difficult to answer her question when a lump in the throat is ...

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Déjà vu: The workers died due to suffocation

‘The workers died due to suffocation’ – this is not the first time we have heard news like this. The first time we heard it was back in 2012. Two years ago, on September 11, 2012, when the garment factory caught fire claiming 259 lives and injuring 140. They called for help, screamed and shouted in agony but all in vain. The rescue forces didn’t get there in time. There were no fire escapes, fire retardants or safety measures. The doors were locked and the only unlocked door was on fire. One might think that they could have used the windows to escape instead ...

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Bulldozing the poor of Islamabad to make room for the rich?

I offer my deepest sympathies to the elite and upper-middle class families of Islamabad who may be experiencing frustrating irregularities in the activities of their servants. It’s quite possible that the inconvenience is being caused by their maasi (domestic maid) Zareena’s sudden homelessness in the aftermath of the Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) war on slums. I’ll try not to undermine the importance of preventing illegal occupation of public land but this prevention shouldn’t be reserved for just one segment of society. It’s expected for these settlements to be raked away especially, if the occupiers are haplessly poor and have no teeth to bite back. But what ...

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Drone strikes: We’re humans, not bugs waiting to be squashed

Recently, a charity organisation in the UK by the name of Reprieve, along with the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR), helped a group of artists install a giant portrait of a child victim of a US drone strike in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), using French artist JR’s ‘Inside Out’ movement. Since humans seem like ‘bugs’ when viewed by drone operators, and like bugs, they are mercilessly crushed by drone strikes, the idea behind this initiative labelled ‘Not a Bug Splat’ was that it would arouse empathy and humanity in drone operators when they spot the face of a child. Source: NotABugSplat It is quite heart-rending ...

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Moving out of a joint family isn’t as easy as it sounds

The desire to hold the rein is one thing, to actually command it is another. At most social gatherings, we often find women complaining about how miserable their lives are and how their in-laws who live with them keep putting hurdles in their way. They usually sum up their tale of woe by saying, “Apni marzi se banda mar bhi nahi sakta hai” (You can’t even die at your own will) What they don’t realise is that the much desired independence from the in-laws leads to a massive increase in responsibilities. My wife and I were enamoured with the idea of moving out to a house arranged to our ...

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Are the days of joint families over?

A family unit in its traditional form consists of grandparents, all their children, their children’s wives and their grandchildren all living harmoniously under one roof. If carried out properly, it can serve as a very warm, welcoming and homely environment which encourages cooperation, understanding, love and patience.  The joint family system has been depicted in several dramas and movies, and at a certain point in my life, I was a huge supporter of it. However, I no longer think a joint family system serves a useful purpose and actually lacks the warmth and affability that it once possessed. Don’t get me wrong! I am not ...

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Weddings in Pakistan: Down with the dowry, enough with the spending!

An often ignored reality that has plagued Pakistani society is that getting married is a financial nightmare. Marriage in our country is an occasion for insane displays of spending on outrageously lavish valimas, mehndi banquets, jewellery, give-aways, dowry and similar acts. What is interesting and downright appalling is that all classes of society are guilty of this madness. Our upper-class uses the occasion to show how wealthy they are. The middle-class, as always torn between the echelons of society, tries its best to spend as much as it can and register itself within the upper-class so as to feel accomplished. The poor take out the money ...

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Meet the families of the kids who died in the Gujrat van tragedy

“Olaad ka ghum bardaasht nae hota” (It is impossible to bear the pain of losing your children) I have heard my father say this quite often. However, since I don’t have any children of my own, I never understood the intensity of emotions behind this statement until I visited the families of the children who lost their lives in the Gujrat tragedy. A fire that broke out in a private school van took the lives of at least 14 innocent children and a teacher. My class had been instructed to visit these families by the director of our institute. On our way ...

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Abbas Town blasts: Will we wipe our tears, keep silent and carry on?

It’s 1:20am on March 4, 2013. As I write this, at least 40 or so families are feeling a searing, soul-wrenching pain, which most of us can’t even imagine and some of us can perhaps relate to. I am trying to imagine what they are going through. I don’t want to live it, but I want to somehow feel something other than anger. When they have a moment of stillness, family members are probably painstakingly recreating and reliving the last moments of their loved ones. When you lose someone you love, you think of how their last few minutes were. Was it ...

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Help! Am I still in love with my ex?

Hi, It has been four months since my ex-fiance and I broke up but I can’t get over her. We had a good relationship and to be honest, the break-up was more from her side than mine. Anyway, it’s been over four months now and I have had no contact with the girl, though I miss her dearly from time to time. There are things that remind me of her. At times, I wonder what she is doing, what she must be thinking, whether she is missing me too. I understand this is normal, and that time is the best healer. There ...

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