The diary of an “innocent princess”

Published: April 22, 2015
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The next time you find an innocent princess like me trying to be friends with you on Facebook, think about what we might have gone through to be able to do that PHOTO: AFP

You know me. I am the one whose friendship request you ignored on Facebook. All I wanted was for us to be virtual friends. I could have liked your cover photo, and you could have commented on how deep that Rumi quote was. You know? The one I shared with the image of a tropical sunset? That is the image of the sun of our friendship going down in flames.

It is not my fault that I was born to Mr and Ms Princess; my father was ridiculed throughout his school life for that name. My father fought through the adversities of being called ‘Princess’. I mean it was his name, but that does not mean it did not hurt.

The story goes like this; my grandparents could not conceive for the longest time. Desperate, they decided to seek the help of a mangal; a mangal is a peer who works on a Tuesday but this is no time to explain jokes to you – try and keep up.

The mangal, whose last name was Panday (this is not a reference to the movie of the same name, the mangal’s parents were literally two Punjabi pandas but that is a story for another time) suggested that if my grandparents want a child, they need to consult with the sister of the Prawn King.

My grandparents rushed to Sea View, and rushed into the kitchen of the first sea food restaurant they found. Unfortunately, the prawns listed on their menus where actually genetically modified snails. The second restaurant was more ethical, their snails were not genetically modified. However, the third restaurant had actual prawns. Right before the sister of the Prawn King became ‘jumbo king-big-huge-enormous-actually-will-this-fit-on-the-menu prawns,’ it promised them a child, if only they named it after it.

My poor non-affluent grandparents could not spell, so instead of writing ‘Prawn Sis’ on the birth certificate, they wrote ‘princess’ when my father was born. Thankfully my grandparents never conceived a child again. They never really quite learnt how to spell either. They thought they were being buried in wooden cats’ kits when they died.

This is my history. These are the hardships I have lived in. If all this was not enough, I also now have to face an incessant amount of ridicule on Facebook. Why can all the Sanas, Razias and Anums join Facebook, but an innocent princess cannot? For far too long has the princess family been unnecessarily discriminated against in Pakistan.

I have no idea why it was arbitrarily decided that it was illegal for anyone to use the name ‘Princess’ in Pakistan. Is Princess any less of a name than Tariq, Shabbir or Kamal? Why is it that my name is specifically targeted? Why is that we are not allowed to live freely on Facebook?

Our founder, and leader, Mark Zuckerberg promised us that Facebook would be a land where everybody would be free to choose their own surnames. Megatron has over a million friends but nobody wants to be friends with an innocent princess.

If all the people of the Afridi clan can put Shahid Afridi’s picture as their profile picture, why can I not have Sleeping Beauty as my profile picture? It is the character that I relate to the most as a Pakistani.

However, none of this is my fault; you can even say that I am innocent. What am I innocent for?

Everything.

All the guilt belongs to you, all of you who judge me for my perfectly acceptable name, my beautiful profile picture, and my incessant sharing of Rumi quotes.

I am not metaphorically innocent, but also legally. Years ago a writ was filed in the Supreme Court of Pakistan labelling me a fictitious person. The writ claimed that I did not belong to the human kind, and I should be labelled a virtual person. It claimed that my existence was a threat to the public order; it is preposterous to think that an innocent princess like me could ever offend public sensibilities.

The Supreme Court rightly found me innocent of any wrong doing. The only charges ever proved against me were an assault of Candy Crush requests, and a battery of Facebook pokes. Everything else, I was innocent of. Finally, my family name was cleared, and I could live freely in Pakistan as an innocent princess.

The next time you find an innocent princess like me trying to be friends with you on Facebook, think about what we might have gone through to be able to do that. Do not dismiss us as virtual trolls. Some people have tried to malign us by using our names, just so that they could pretend to be an innocent princess and flirt with other men. This is the only socially acceptable way for men to flirt with men in Pakistan. I do not blame them either but they need to realise that it is not a choice for us to be an innocent princess; one is born an innocent princess.

I am an innocent princess, and I am proud to be one.

I am going to leave with a Rumi quote, please imagine you are reading this text against the backdrop of a tropical sunset for maximum effect.

“What you seek is seeking you,” Rumi.

This is precisely why Rumi always lost at ‘hide and seek’.

shehzad.ghias

Shehzad Ghias

A graduate from the LUMS Law School and is running his own theatre production company, Cogito Productions.He works as a theatre teacher at various schools. He tweets @Shehzad89 (twitter.com/Shehzad89)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

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