Stories about health

Always remember

“What’s my name?” “My beti.” “But what is it, really?” “My pyaari beti.” “Do you remember me?” I can almost hear you reply – only vaguely.   I watch you every day, In that same seat that you always occupy – With the sun glinting off your bald head. I watch as first you give up your laughter, Then your listening, Then your talking, Then yourself.   As I sit across the room, And become heavier and stronger, I watch you become weaker and smaller. I watch your appetite shrink, And the only food you truly want Is kept away from you, near the sink. It’s meant to protect your health, To ensure you don’t get confusions or even possible delusions.   Delusions of ...

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From “New Year, new me” to “New Year, same old me”: 5 resolutions you hear at the start of every year

There’s a lot of talk and literature on the five stages of grief; you may even know them by heart. It’s great if you know; grief is tough to deal with and people should be introduced to its stages and variations. However, there are other things too which recur yearly, that people should be prepared for. Last year, my best friend Seher called me on December 31st, saying: “Maryam, this is it. 2018 is the year.” I immediately recalled our conversation on December 31, 2016, when she revealed to me that 2017 would be the year. But I love that girl to bits, so ...

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Because smoking damages a man’s lungs and ruins a woman’s honour

While universities around the world are trying to promote freedom of expression and invest in the development of their students, in the case of Pakistan, higher education institutions are stifling debate, cracking down on any independent thought and churning out automatons by the hundreds. For instance, they are more focused on wasting paper with unoriginal research papers, as former students of University of Engineering and Technology (UET) were recently caught plagiarising a whole paper verbatim and almost got away with having it published. International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) has stopped its students from celebrating Pakhtun culture day, while Punjab University arrested ...

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RIP Anam Tanoli: Worse than being a woman in Pakistan is being a victim of depression and bullying

“Be grateful for what you have.” “Always look at people who are less fortunate than you.” “If you believed in God, you wouldn’t feel hopeless. You need to pray more – it’s the devil making you depressed and miserable.” “It’s all in your head.” “Stop being cynical, be positive.” “Stop overthinking.” “Stop overreacting.” And here is the worst one, “Stop pretending you have mental health issues to gain sympathy and attention!” If you have ever had anxiety, depression, stress or any other mental health issues, I bet your Pakistani family, friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbours, or even complete strangers would have used at least one of the aforementioned phrases after ...

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For PM Imran Khan: A guide on how to fix the unfixable

There is a new sense of optimism in Pakistan. Many in the country are looking to the government of Imran Khan to reform the way the country works and put it back on the track of development and prosperity. The new government has signalled a willingness to think outside the box. This means trying to do what has not been done before. It means going against vested interests, the ‘rent seekers’ who have used their influence to accumulate power and enormous wealth. And finally, it also means going against established international ‘norms’ of behaviour as defined by the ‘Washington Consensus’. First ...

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I resigned not because of my boss, but my co-workers

It is said that people do not quit their jobs; they quit their bosses. However, what I believe is that sometimes people quit not because of their boss, but due to a hostile work environment – or in my case, the bad attitude of some co-workers. Let me offer a disclaimer that I am not here to badmouth my former colleagues. Instead, I wish to share my experience, and my realisation that sometimes people are so competitive and callous in a workplace that they don’t realise how their bad attitude can affect a person’s mental health. It was last year ...

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“Mera jism, khandaan ki marzi”

It was a particularly tiring emergency day in the obstetric labour room. I was writing down patient notes on a file when a woman came pleading to me, “Doctor sahibaa, mehrbani karain, mainay jo sign kiyay hain wo kaat dain, hum nay waqfay ka chalaa nae rikhwana.” (Please doctor, nullify the signatures I just did on the file, we refuse to take intrauterine device for contraception.) IUCD (commonly known as Cu-T) is a small contraception device placed in a woman’s uterus to delay the next pregnancy and ensure better health opportunities for both the mother and the child. When I tried to ...

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Young and wise: When Bilawal Bhutto Zardari outshined Imran Khan and Shehbaz Sharif

The long-awaited wish of Imran Khan to become the prime minister of Pakistan has finally come true, and I pray that he delivers what he has promised. Change is indeed needed and perhaps at a much faster rate than the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) anticipates. Given the state of Pakistan’s crippling economy, the new government may not even have time to enjoy the “honeymoon period” and would have to start their work from the very first day. All of us know that Imran has many problems which he will have to sort out in his own time, however in my opinion, ...

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High BMI and low stamina could not stop me from making that hike

This is going to take a while. I’m still processing my feelings after spending three nights in the middle of a local forest managed by Forest, Wildlife and Fisheries Department of Pakistan. There is so much that needs to be expressed because you cannot sum your experience up in a hashtag when it comes to the profoundness brought by nature. In comparison to other people, a sedentary lifestyle and a higher body mass index (BMI) barely helps you when climbing a few stairs or performing day-to-day physical tasks without experiencing fatigue. Walking for a few minutes seems like a never-ending task ...

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Smoking kills, but so does patriarchy

What is the duty of a good brown woman? For most of our society, it’s ‘upholding traditional values’ – whether it’s the ideal bahu (daughter-in-law) in most TV dramas, desirable conservatism in Bollywood dynamics, or unsolicited advice from politicians. A 2017 Ipsos Global Trends report even reveals that 64% of Indians believe that a woman’s primary role is to be ‘a good mother and wife’. This burden of sanskar (values) and dutifulness then become a tool of oppression, of restriction. On the other hand, men have no such shackles, and end up having a monopoly on the social acceptability of ‘having fun’. There is a systematic curbing of women’s freedom to experience ...

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