Stories published in December, 2018

The road not taken: Going to Cambridge or getting married

In Pakistan, and in my native language Urdu, woman translates into aurat, which comes from the Persian awrah, meaning “parts to be protected”. Literally, too, in my present Muslim, closed-knit, patriarchal society, women like me are guided — by their fathers, husbands, brothers, sons — to be protected from threats against their body and family honour. While these men encourage “western” trends to an extent — like education at reputable schools, recreational sports, or even temporary employment — cultural traditions halt these prospects after marriage. You are born, our men tell us, to marry fast, and vouchsafe both yourselves and your future daughters ...

Read Full Post

Triple Frontier: When Sicario meets Narcos

After being stuck in production-hell for quite some time with everyone from Tom Hardy, Johnny Depp and Mark Wahlberg slated to star at one point, Triple Frontier has finally finished production. With filmmaker JC Chandor at the helm and Oscar-winning writer Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) penning the script, the first trailer of the film seems like it will be offering a slightly different twist on the heist movie formula. Set almost entirely in South America, the film follows a team of special forces operatives who reunite in South America to forego the most ambitious and challenging mission of their lives: robbing ...

Read Full Post

Did the government really think that one bike lane on Shahrae Faisal will solve Karachi’s traffic woes?

The traffic problem in Karachi has gone from bad to worse to the absolute worst in a reasonably small expanse of time. No amount of signal-free corridors, bridges, underpasses and new roads have been able to alleviate what is one of the biggest causes of suffering for the city’s populace. While the recent grand encroachment operation under the Supreme Court’s instructions turned out to be a beacon of light for the citizens, things once again went astray when this too resulted in no significant improvement for the people of Karachi.  However, no matter how hard the government tries, it won’t ...

Read Full Post

The year that #Metoo was reborn, and with it the sisterhood of victims

It is the defining moment of the year gone by, not because it finally became part of a global movement but more so because it took a second wind to unsettle the dominant voices of patriarchal corridors and send a message that #Metoo was not about some misguided and delayed wave for justice, just as it was never about a woman in the wrong job at the wrong time. All it had ever been about was consent. October 2018 will be remembered as the renaissance of the #MeToo movement in India. A forgotten actress Tanushree Dutta touched down from the ...

Read Full Post

“Udhar tum, idhar hum”: When Bhutto pushed Bangladesh to the edge of Pakistan

The fall of Dhaka is one of those events in our history that we’d rather forget. No one talks about it nowadays, because it was the result of our own follies. But those who are still alive will never be able to forget TV newscaster Shaista Jabeen’s tearful announcement that dreadful night in December:  “According to an agreement, Indian soldiers have now taken control of Dhaka.” The people in what remained of Pakistan were shocked beyond belief. For days they had been told that everything was normal in the eastern wing, despite the BBC giving a contrasting picture. As always, ...

Read Full Post

From the moneymaker to the ‘accidental hero’, 2018 has been a booming year for our film industry

The year is almost over, and there is no doubt the ‘revival’ of Pakistani cinema continued in 2018. It would even be fair to say the so-called revival phase is over and the industry has stabilised to a degree. It should only go up from here, as our filmmakers have now understood the basic needs of the modern cinema going audience. While production values, music and the film treatments have significantly improved, the stories remain the weak link. However, this is a problem with most large-scale films, even across the border. Yes, there are still some black sheep insisting ...

Read Full Post

A brave, untamed, reckless kind of love

She looked up at the swaying inferno over her head and wondered, ‘did the flame in my heart… set the trees on fire?’ A lazy chill creeped into the air. Not the bite of winter, just a nip to announce that a brand new season was at hand. A lonely streetlamp cast an artificial glow onto the French pavement, illuminating fallen leaves in a garish of warm yellow light. Twilight bathed the Seine as the streets of the most romantic city in the world gilded in gold. The walkway ahead of her twisted like a silk scarf; twirling, leading into the horizon. The ...

Read Full Post

A trans daughter‘s letter to her family: Will you love the real me and not the man you want me to be?

Dear Abba and Maa, We live in the same house, but you have created a distance between us that leaves me feeling miles apart from you. Who generated this hatred in your heart? You can blame me for it if you wish, but I blame your fundamentalist understanding of religion and your rigid expectations of a gender role that I am unable to fulfil. Tell me, are these things more important to you than I am? I am a human being with flesh, blood and emotions. You are offering your love to imaginary abstractions, meanwhile I am left deprived of it. Abba, you ...

Read Full Post

Four years down the road to redemption: APS – the school of the 144

One hundred and forty four. On December 16th, we lost a 144 warriors. I had my Islamiat exam that day. I came back to Godley with a sense of accomplishment. It was over. The tyranny that Ziaul Haq’s fundamentalism had bestowed upon us was over. I distinctly remember talking to a close friend about the late General’s obsessive infatuation with religion, and “how none of us really needed to learn religion through such biased sources”. And as irony would deem it fit, it wasn’t over. And the way it showed shook me to the core. On December 16, 2014, progeny of ...

Read Full Post

The year the world mourned dead journalists, and with them our freedom of speech

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a New York-based organisation defending the freedom of the press, 53 journalists have been killed in 2018. Let that sink in – 53 journalists. Syria, Afghanistan, Mexico, Yemen, Israel and USA are the top sites for these deaths. The figure went up from 47 in 2017 to 53 this year. Needless to say, it has been a tough year for the media and its workers across the globe. But what struck me is the high numbers of murders; other reasons for the deaths being dangerous assignments and threats from external forces. Our own ...

Read Full Post