My crime that night? I was travelling home with two na-mehram boys

Published: September 5, 2016
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Hunger turns cops into moral police in the wee hours of the night and morning. PHOTO: AFP

In middle school when my cousin, like all other Pakistani girls, ditched uniform shorts for track pants at gym class, I asked my dad if I could do the same as well. I handed him the application form to fill in so I could give it to my gym teacher. He laughed, lit his pipe and set my definition of gelling in and modesty right. 

Needless to say, I bore weird glances from the Pakistani community of 12-year-olds at Carl Sandburg Middle School in Virginia for two full years. I learnt indifference. But it becomes difficult to continue practicing the learned art in this country of desi aunties, prying uncles, and unfed cops. Yes, unfed!

Hunger turns cops into moral police in the wee hours of the night and morning. Like hounds they search for cars with women traveling with na-mehram men and once they think they have found their prey, they stop the car. The na-mehram is asked to step out. God forbid the woman wishes to join him.

“Bibi ji, andar tashreef rakhien.” (Kindly stay inside please.)

The investigation begins. ID cards are checked. Last names, parent’s names aren’t matching up. Jackpot! Sit back, lady. Ponder over your fate in the car while the men outside raise questions over your morals and values all for money for chai/pani. And if you’re traveling with a righteous man (definition up to debate) who isn’t generous enough to feed the hungry hounds, you’re in for some drama. There’ll be threats. The name of this land of the pure will be invoked.

“Don’t you know, this is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan?”

And when nothing works and the cops realise that their midnight cravings will go unsatisfied, they’ll let you and the poor na-mehram off the hook with unwanted pieces of advice. A cop once told me that good women don’t go to offices, they stay at home. The same night, another cop informed me that I would have marred the honour and name of the na-mehram I was traveling with, had the cops not been courteous enough for not informing the media channels. My crime that night? I was traveling home from the North with two na-mehram and trying to get back to Lahore in time for work the next morning.

But fortunately or unfortunately (debatable again), you will not be traveling with a “righteous man” and the matter will be settled within minutes. Cash will be waved, midnight munchies put to rest. No one will judge. Sometimes the bribe is even kosher.

Aisha A.

Aisha A.

The author is a hippie with an American accent and Pakistani genes. She steals time from her day time job to blog about her recent move to Lahore from Washington, DC at newgirlinlahore.wordpress.com. She tweets as @newgirlinlahore (twitter.com/newgirlinlahore)

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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  • Mubashir

    Hungry hounds…haha rightly said.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Heard the same story in 10 different versions.
    Pops up every few months. Here on ET
    All of them true, no doubt.
    As it was written…in the blog….
    ‘Don’t you know this is the Islamic Republic of Pakland?’
    How true !!Recommend

  • Sami

    I am a liberal guy and even if my sister will be found travelling with two unknown guys late at night then even i will question. Freedom must have clear limits. Even in Europe Parents will ask this question. For me the police responded in a good manner. They simple asked for ID cards and there is nothing wrong in it.
    If you have a problem with it then shift back to America.

    Also a small message to the girl that Girls who are easy to accompany the guys in cars are known as “Trophy girls” in Lahore. The so called trophy term is for those girls with whom the guys do not want to marry, but just want to show other guys that look I got the girl and she is it with me.Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    That is Islam for you with all its glories.Recommend

  • Muhammad

    Corruption by Police has nothing to do with IslamRecommend

  • vinsin

    Police system itself has nothing to do with Islam. I know Muslims those who do corruption in the name of Islam.Recommend

  • vinsin

    Your crime is that you wanna be a Muslim and then want to travel with na mehram boys. If religion is your problem then change it.Recommend

  • Gulchand Mehta

    If you found your sister traveling with two unknown guys,
    you will question it?? Then you don’t know your sister.
    Do you know all your sister’s friends? All classmates?
    From different classes that she attends? [if she goes to
    a college or university] Or you taking your aunt to the mall….
    If you are giving your sister in-law a ride home at night, it
    could turn into something bad? Or you are taking your neighbor’s
    wife to the hospital, so she can visit her husband, who broke his
    leg,…that can turn into a very bad bad?? Do you see these scenarios?
    Are you for real?Recommend

  • Patwari

    There are worse cases, than these, in Hindustan.
    A Muslim giving a hindu woman a lift home, could
    turn very very deadly. Near death experience.
    Like it did in Poona a few months ago. A Muslim man
    gave a co worker, a hindu woman, ride to an ATM machine
    and almost got killed by a roving mob of hindus.
    The police stood and watched. Only acted after a sub inspector
    arrived at the scene. [After numerous frantic calls from the woman
    and the neighborhood businesses]Recommend

  • Ali S

    If this is what a self-proclaimed liberal Pakistani guy thinks like I’m afraid to know what the average person thinks.Recommend

  • Gp65

    There are many reasons a woman may travel with a na-mehram and him being a boyfriend is just one of them. Nor is a check of last name a valid way of checking. What about your mama, khala or phuphi’s son? He will surely not have your surname or address. Your neighbor could be escorting you some place for safety reason.
    In any case, assume that your sister has a boyfriend. Is that so terrible? How liberal are you if you have a problem with that?
    Have you ever lived in Europe? Were you referring to Pakistanis living in Europe when you said that even in Europe parents would have a problem?
    Recommend

  • farhan

    Spot on!!Recommend

  • MR.X

    The party just startedRecommend

  • Sane

    Like killing for beef eating is not teaching of Hinduism.Recommend

  • Patwari

    “wanna”…that’s aping American slang. Recommend

  • Sami

    Ok Mr Liberal Ali S then allow your own females to travel with two three male guys late at night to show some liberalness.To prove your liberal behavior kindly never ask them any question as it is their personal life according to the true liberals like you.
    Afterall you are a very liberal guy and i am a fake one. Recommend

  • Human

    The matter should be between God and the person.. One should just give a guidance and not force them to follow those ..
    Everyone will be accountable for his/her own deeds.. Recommend

  • Saad Salman Zia

    Thank you :) Couldn’t have said it any better.Recommend