Diary of a Feminist: Trials of Adolescence

During my early youth I believed that adolescence was the most wonderful period in a person’s life. And I thought every teen­ager in the world was in a blissful state. It made me feel miserable. Because I wasn’t having ‘the most wonderful time’ in the least!

I think it was Urdu poetry that played mischief and fil­led my head with romanticised notions of youth. I am sure fiction didn’t do any harm because for one thing, it was ‘taraqqi pasand afsanay’ I was reading since class five; for another, they must be going above my head at that time anyway.

Whatever poets said about ‘sweet sixteen’, to me it was nothing but sour. All my com­plexes (inferiority comp­lexes) intense ambivalence (particularly toward my mother), fights and frictions (with siblings), dreams, aspi­rations, frustrations, etc, made my mind a confused jumble of thoughts and feel­ings, and my ‘stream of con­sciousness’ a torrential, fro­thing mass. But mercifully all that was behind a placid facade: I was quite a quiet person.

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Diary of a Feminist: The Schism in the Soul

Two weeks back when I read about the Council of Is­lamic Ideology’s question­naire on women’s status I couldn’t but utter ‘Oh God, these people! They speak a dead language and they live in a cocoon.’

And 1 thought: In their fanaticism they have be­come blind as a bat. But no. Not as a bat. Bats have a remarkable facility of echo location. And these people seem to locate neither objects nor con­cepts. Least of all, the change, the reality. They sound so oblivious of it all.

Thus CII states in the questionnaire it has sent to elicit people’s opinions: “To satisfy their own lust, westernised individuals in Pakistan want to bring women out of their homes and make them the centre of attraction in society in negation of Is­lamic instructions. They wish to thrust on the woman, economic responsibilities in addition to her family re­sponsibilities. In your opi­nion, what weaknesses will re­sult in an Islamic society be­cause of this unnatural approach?”

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Diary of Feminist: Islam and Women

We have been reciting the Quran without know­ing its meaning since our childhood. I don’t re­member anybody ever en­couraging me to read its Urdu translation. Whenever I said, “Mother, I am reading its transla­tion,” she said “O.K. That’s fine. But read it in Arabic too,” with an implication that reading in Arabic is far more desirable (though you can’t understand a word) than reading the Tarjuma. As a growing child I found it a double task to read it both in Arabic and Urdu. Thus most of the time I ended up just reciting it in Arabic.

When I grew up I was told that reading the Urdu transla­tion is useless unless you read it along with Tafseer. I don’t disagree with this observa­tion. You can’t take the Di­vine book lightly. If you really want to understand it you’ve got to study it thoroughly, seriously. And it requires an immense effort as well as a genuine desire.

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Diary of a Feminist: Is My Perception Biased?

Sometimes I wonder why most of the suffering humans I come across happen to be wo­men. Perhaps I look at the world with a tinted glass, with a feminist hue. Which makes women substantial, of flesh and blood, anchored in the centre of my visual span. While men, papery, ghost-­like, float at the periphery.

Is my perception selective? Might be. But I don’t under­stand this process of selectiv­ity. It is in my genes which make me perceive, make me feel so intensely about my own kind? Or is it in the envi­ron — the women’s condition — which etch them on my mind?

I try hard. Yes, I do re­member a few men whom I know closely. Who had suffered in life. Or are suffer­ing. Of poverty, or disease, or circumstances. But their mis­eries I always ascribe either to fate or to their own failure. That’s not the case with wo­men. Somehow I always find a man behind a suffering woman.

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Diary of a Feminist: He Stoops to Conquer

At times you find truth stranger than fiction. In fiction life appears a jigsaw puzzle whose pieces at least fit together, no mat­ter how crooked and a pat­tern emerges, no matter how weird. But with truth! No way! There are moments you could simply gasp at reality and not grasp it at all.

It was a year back when my sister came to know through some one that Mr. Y. had taken a second wife. I refused to believe it. “It’s a lie. We just visited Mr. and Mrs Y. a few days back and they were both quite the same happy couple.”

“And who do you think is his second wife?” My sister ig­nored the remark and persisted. “How should I know?” “Try to guess.” Something dawned on me. “Oh God! Don’t tell me it’s her!”

The family is known to us for the last seven years or so. Though it’s not a very long period but they had been our next-door neighbours for four years. And we have a rela­tively close acquaintanceship with the family. The couple has two sons, aged 24 and 21.

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Diary of a Feminist: Women Vs. Women

Sometimes women can be their own worst enemy. Particularly when it comes to falling prey to the stereotype. For instance, it’s a generally held belief among women (forget men for a while) that ‘women are dull, uninteresting and stupid’. At most, they are ‘shrewd’ and ‘bitchy’. It hurts me when I find educated women holding the view.

I wouldn’t say all educated women harbour this notion. I know many women who judge people, whether men or women, on their individual worth, untarnished by pre­judices, stripped off of stereotypes. Nonetheless, I’ve come across women, working and educated who have a rather negative opinion of women.

“Women bore me,” one told me with disdain, “they only talk of dresses and jewelry.” You might have forgiven her and let it go by sticking a label ‘so-called intellectual’ if you’ve ever heard her talking about things like Kant’s Criuque of Pure Reason or Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Autumn of the Patriarch or watched her falling into a heated argu­ment over USA’s foreign pol­icy in Latin America or the games politicians play in Pakistan.

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Diary of a Feminist: The Alarming Gulf

Women are strange be­ings. Suffering silently. Taking in whatever comes. You wonder if they are black holes — sucking in­side the cruelty, the in­justice. Without a whimper. With bruised souls, they continue to ex­ist. Hidden from the ‘all-knowing’ male eye.

But at times your black hole metaphor collapses. Some­thing happens. A rare event. They refuse to rake in any more. They explode. And the rebels are born.

They simply stand up and walk down the streets, picketing!

A rare phenomenon indeed, in the female population de­prived of education. Pinned down by the hard issues of survival, they appear immov­able. And their privileged few sisters rack their brains in vain to change their lot.

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