Dear Yoda, would dad approve of my decision to sign his code status as ‘Do Not Resuscitate’?

Dear Yoda, As you know, dad had a massive stroke a few months ago. The stroke was like Hurricane Harvey in several respects – it occurred around the same time as Harvey, and like the hurricane, was of unexpected intensity and left devastation in its wake. Those who read (perhaps enjoy) my rambling (writing), including you, might recall the piece I wrote about dad and his health issues, dementia per se, last year. I received flak for writing about dad – in fact, one person came very close to calling it a sacrilegious act of airing one’s dirty laundry. Then there were others, like most ...

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Pakistan is my home, but it is not a country for my disabled daughter

Four years ago, our seemingly normal world changed forever. Our fairy tale family, which included an older son and a younger daughter, was shattered into pieces when our little girl was struck by Herpes Encephalitis, a devastating illness that leaves very few, if any, without disabilities. This is our journey, not written to gather sympathy or to criticise, but to try and bring the much-needed awareness to the needs of those who are not as able-bodied as you and I. Ameera, our daughter, was 17-months-old when she caught what looked like a nasty version of the common cold. When my bottle-loving child ...

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Emotional abuse may not leave scars like physical and sexual violence does, but words can hurt more than punches

“The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” These words by John F Kennedy shed light on the purpose behind the 16 days of Activism that we all advocate for today. We all stand united as one, across the globe, reaching out to protect women against the prevalent threat of violence. When we say violence, however, most of us are usually focusing on physical and sexual violence, featuring stories of battered and broken victims. What goes unstated and somewhat neglected is the trauma of emotional abuse that women are also widely subjected to in today’s world. “Do you really ...

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It took me 15 long years to quit smoking, and today, it’s been 16 months since my last drag

They say that the most important, most difficult and the greatest fight to fight in life is the fight with one’s own self. It could be anything; your internal struggle with something like a bad habit or your struggle with the way you react to situations. It could be your struggle with addiction to substances like alcohol, drugs, nicotine, food, sugar, or an addiction to a person who doesn’t treat you the way you deserve to be treated. I am writing this for all those people, including my friends, who are fighting a similar fight in their lives, and I will ...

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For Pakistan’s women, the false promise of safety in return for compliance is a double-edged sword

When it comes to living in this part of the world, Pakistani women have long been presented with a causational dictum. Comply and you will survive. Sacrifice in patience and the reward will come to you. Our parents worry when we step out of our homes, pursue higher education, or when we want careers, as the first reaction always is, “Beta, it’s dangerous.” It is dangerous to be out after dark, to be opinionated, or independent – because independent “awara” women are the ones who are assaulted and harassed. Yet, the statistics speak otherwise: – In November, a seven-year-old girl was raped and murdered by two brothers. – In November, a ...

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With its Basant-like aura, the #CokeFest transported me to the old Lahore of the 90s

Despite living outside of Pakistan for almost three years now, I am still a hard-core desi at heart. The ‘desiness’ gets stronger if you are not just from Pakistan, but also from Lahore, and happen to be married to another Lahori, who is homesick more often than not. The Lahori inside my husband is so headstrong that a daig (large pot) at Data Sahib‘s shrine is the key to all our woes and worries. Despite studying in the UK and spending most of his professional life outside Lahore, he still compares the falooda he eats anywhere with the one he used ...

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As a man, I was oblivious to the reality of women getting harassed in public spaces, until that one night at Data Darbar changed everything

Two weeks ago, on Friday night, a friend and I decided to go to Old Lahore for dinner. It was the last night of Data Sahib’s Urs, and all the major roads in Lahore, from Mall Road to Azadi Chowk, were blocked. Hence, we parked at Anarkali and took a rickshaw to Lohari. From there onwards, we decided to walk, through the Data Darbar precinct and towards the old city. Most of the streets in the area were barricaded. We passed a small check-post near Mori Gate, and saw an even bigger one just outside the Darbar precinct, where I asked a police officer ...

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Islam has and always will be a religion of women

To Muslim women, Islam is a religion of women. I will speak these words until my heart stops. Islam is a religion of women. Our Prophet (PBUH), who was delivered the revelation, was a man, but his first and truest disciple was his wife. She was a woman of stature, endurance, patience and poise. And to reiterate what has already been said, she was a woman. With female hands was the first iftar made. We would have no Adam, John, Jesus, Joseph, Idris, Aaron, Moses or Abraham without Eve, Elizabeth, Mary, Rachel, Barkanah, Jochebed, and Amathlaah. Even in the Prophet’s (PBUH) family, although it was Hazrat Ali (RA) ...

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The only tabdeeli Imran Khan is successful in bringing is to tabdeel himself into yet another untrustworthy disappointment we call a politician

I can clearly remember the 2013 election – it was my first time voting and I was going to vote for a ‘naya Pakistan’. As a naïve 18-year-old who was generally unfamiliar with politics, I was swept away by the idea of changing the country, the idea of progressing, and Imran Khan’s chants of “tabdeeli aa nahi rahi, tabdeeli agayi hai” (Change is not coming, change is here) served as fodder for my adolescent idealism.   Yes, I voted for Imran and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) that day, and yes, I regret it today. Months later, when the focus was still on the sit-ins and ...

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My feminism does not teach me to hate men

I was waiting to board a bus to Boston to attend a Model United Nations (MUN) conference, when one of my fellow teammates enquired about my undergraduate major. I excitedly and proudly exclaimed, “Gender, sexuality and women’s studies!” Considering that I was the only women’s studies major among the many political science majors, I took pride in that little piece of diversity that set me apart from the rest. Surprised at my response, she asked me, “On a scale of one to 10, how big of a feminist are you?” Assuming that she was joking, I let out a laugh, until I saw a serious ...

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