Apologetic

I haven’t written for myself, this platform, or for anyone in a – very – long while. Aside from my mind always being occupied with one thing or the other, I believe in writing when feeling passionate. Tonight, I feel passionately heartbroken and apologetic. Tonight, I dedicate this sincere message to Abdul Sattar Edhi, who passed away a few hours ago.

Thank you, for nurturing our abandoned baby girls left at your doorstep because we, as a nation, are either poor from the heart or poor from the pocket, to raise and love our girls and boys, equally.

Thank you, for rescuing our orphans from child trafficking and from all the evil they could have been exposed to, when nobody else would.

Thank you, for developing free nursing homes, so our forgotten elderly do not beg, or sleep on the streets.

Thank you, for creating the largest ambulance service in the world and offering free welfare services in a country where poverty comes hand in hand with disrespect, devalue and humiliation.

Thank you, for filling all the gaps where our government failed, our nation failed, humanity failed.

But I am sorry.

I am sorry that your philanthropy is underestimated and unknown to many outside Pakistan.

I am sorry that your legacy is not the kind of picture the West wants to see of Pakistan.

I am sorry the West do not see a Pakistan beyond Malala Yousafzai.

I am sorry the West prefer to raise and recognise, in the name of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistan that tortures and oppresses our women.

I am sorry you were restrained in New York, Toronto, Lebanon and many other airports, because your name did not deserve to allow you in another country peacefully, let alone being offered citizenship, like Malala Yousafzai.

I am sorry that your image did not fit the Western ideal of a third world Islamic nation, so the West prefer to sing praise and read books of Malala Yousafzai – I am sorry they know her before (or if) they know you.

You started your legacy with only 5000 rupees* and in almost 60 years of serving, you showed us the true essence of charity, of willpower and determination. Thank you, for serving our orphans, homeless, wounded, abused, starved and widows. You were there when nobody else was.

I wish you had been more honoured by this world.

إِنَّا للهِ وَإِنَّـا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعونَ‎

pakistan-edhi-july-8-16_custom-c876df9b6440732a32b3e65b5f19b2ee5c6a4d6e-s900-c85

“People have become educated, but have not become human.” – Abdul Sattar Edhi

*5000 rupees amounts to roughly 36 pounds/47 US dollars

Thoughts on Home, continued.

This pleasant, pure cotton fabric was on my list for a while now and I finally got around to making use of it. The material was very limited and as I wanted to wear the map, rather than make a cushion cover or anything in that similarity, I made a jacket.

A very simple, straightforward jacket.

The material itself can be purchased online from a number of places like this one.

Here is a step to step guideline on how to sew this piece, assuming you are familiar with basics, i.e. using a sewing machine. There are many technical and mathematical ways of doing this, but I’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible, without any clear-cut measurements.

  1. If your material is a large piece then feel free to cut it accordingly, but as mine was already in this size, I have started by folding it in half, inside out. Make sure you get the map the right way around, unless you want to walk around with the world upside down… I mean, it’s entirely up to you. Pin it on the sides to keep the material aligned and in place.

Number 1

2.  I placed a shirt on top, for approximate measures and marked with chalk (doesn’t have to be tailors chalk, ordinary works fine so long as it stays on the fabric).

Number 2

3.  Cut out holes for the sleeves and neck, ensuring not to cut on the chalk line, but to leave at least a centimetre over it.

Number 3

4.  Sew the hem of the jacket inwards around 1cm, like so.

Number 4

5.  As done above, sew the sleeves and neck inwards, similarly.

Number 6

6.  I’ve sewn the sides of the jacket straight, for a loose fit, you can of course alter that according to personal preferences.

Number 5

7.  Now you should have an almost finished top with just the shoulders left to sew together.

Number 7

8.  Lay the piece on an even surface and cut the top layer right through the middle (without a tape measure, I simply folded it in half to find the middle).

Number 8

9.   Sew the recently-cut sides inwards, like done with the hem (step 4). Then cut off any loose threads, and voilà.

Number 9

// from where I belong, my complexion is too Eastern #west

from where I belong, my perspective is too Western #east //

I am not Malala

In some parts of the world, students are going to school every day. It’s their normal life. But in other part of the world, we are starving for education… it’s like a precious gift. It’s like a diamond. –Malala Yousafzai

The diamond called education:

Female illiteracy dates back to times when nor the Taliban or War on Terror or even Pakistan existed. In the midst of over half of Pakistan’s population living below the poverty line, and no free education, you wouldn’t wonder why 43% of children from low income families are “starving for education”. Then there are the US counterproductive drone strikes that target 10 people and end up killing 1000. I would not send my children to school if I was aware of the nature of these drones. Drones that can kill anyone at any time, with no justification. But again, ignoring how/why the Taliban even emerged, Western-influenced minds only think the inhumane Taliban are on the quest to demolish all rights of education for poor Pakistani girls. The failing education system of Pakistan is not black and white, from poverty to drones to child labor, there is plenty of grey that needs to be voiced.

But why does the grey even matter to the West?

I mean, Malala’s story fits the Western narrative of the East, so perfectly. You know, poor Pakistani girl fighting to learn while evil men want to stop her. Then came the West, like noblemen, yet again saving people from the torment of the East.

West, the saviours.

*sarcastic cheer*

Saviour: 

I’ll be daring and say that we don’t hear news that doesn’t fit Western ideal. Like Aitzaz Hasan, Pakistani teenager, who was also on his way to school, sacrificed his life preventing a (potential Taliban) suicide bomber from entering a school of about 2000 pupils. The West were not heroes here so he was not internationally recognised. And have you Westerners heard of our Abdul Sattar Edhi? While education and healthcare in Pakistan are at a cost, this man owns the largest healthcare organisation in Pakistan, world’s largest ambulance service, nursing homes, orphanages, women’s shelters, rehab centres, all for free. He is the holder of a million dollar foundation, yet he lives in a two bedroom apartment above his clinic.

Let that sink in.

When people of the West join in crowds and sing aloud “I am Malala”, there are many things about it that make me feel uneven. Malala was shot, saved, and is now advancing her advocacy in the warm arms of the West. She has gained a lot of recognition from the Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa Awards, Ambassador of Conscience Award, National Malala Peace Prize, The Malala Fund, and much more. The positivity and awareness brought about by Malala is commend-worthy. However, the feeling of my Motherland being exploited on the name of Malala Yousafzai overrides any inspiration I feel from her. You may be reading this and heavily disagreeing with my opinion, but you wouldn’t know the feels when your culture, your religion, your country are wrongly scrutinised by mass public. When people ask you, “Your country is no place for a woman, you must be grateful for the education you get here in England?”. The considerable reaction was that Pakistan, or the wider East perhaps, is an oppressed place where women are tortured by the Taliban that only the West can destroy. People do not see any good in Pakistan. Along with many other Malala’s, we also have our fair share of female engineers, doctors, artists, pilots and Benazir Bhutto, who was the first woman to serve as prime minister in any Islamic country.

I do not think Malala deserved half the attention she got. This is my opinion and I speak for myself.

Blame Game

In the words of Vladimir Nabokov, “The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea”, similarly, the actions of an individual does not represent society, or an entire ideology cannot be derived from a mere observation.

So why is it that this morning when I was scrolling through my Facebook, I see headlines:

 David Cameron: Muslim communities must shoulder some blame for Isis recruits

*heavy sigh*

“Islamic” State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is the biggest threat, in numbers, to Iraq and Syria itself. Yet you, sitting in the comfort of your home/office/toilet even, weasel out after discovering the most fabricated, skewed accounts of wacky men dressed in black, hunting for Westerners to behead in the name of Allah. In other words, you are afraid of these group of “Muslims”, coming to start holy war on you from somewhat 3.5 thousand miles away.

Okay.

 While the West continue beating their drums about “helping” the poor, victimised and uncivilised Afghans, in the 1980’s American forces funded and trained the Mujahideen (now known as Al-Qaeda). So be it international forces or Al-Qaeda, for our terror-stricken Afghan children, they are all the same. They don’t live a few thousand miles away from war, they live in war. But the thing is, I don’t remember anybody apologising for 13 years of trauma that shattered the entire nation. In fact what do you think Britain would be like if it was a war zone for 13 years?

*rubs chin*

But I’m just jabbering on about one tiny part of the world. What about Libya and Lebanon? Somalia and Pakistan? 13 years in Iraq and now in Syria? I will possibly consider taking some blame on my shoulder for ISIS recruits, when every American and British person takes responsibility for the increase in infant mortality, suicide bombings, and other heavy costs of their on-going war. When every single Christian apologises for KKK, who everybody and their mother forgot. When each Nigerian shoulders some blame for the actions of Boko Haram. When each and every Jew writes a formal justification for the atrocity on Palestine.

And even though these “ISIS recruits”, or “jihadi brides” as the media likes to call them, haven’t been found in ISIS, even though 120 Islamic scholars have released an 18-page letter condemning this “Islamic state”, Mr Cameron still believes Muslims should shoulder some blame for ISIS recruits.

The breaking of a wave does not explain the whole sea: The breaking of ISIS does not explain Islam 

Until we all become criminal-by-default, #noshoulderingblame #noapologies

Thoughts on Home

(my two friends conversing)

“So like, we were born in the same hospital?! That is so cool!”

*giggled amongst one another, then turned towards me*

“Were you also born in the same hospital as us?”

“Um, no. I was born in Pakistan, but I have lived here since I was 3.”

But I have lived here since I was 3.

But.

In virtually 20 years of living, I only just realised I have been carrying this massive ‘but’ with me, for almost my entire life. Why didn’t I ever think about this before? Why couldn’t I have replaced the ‘but’ for an ‘and’?

I was born in Pakistan, and I have lived here since I was 3.

*gasps at the impact a simple connective can make to the meaning of a sentence*

So ladies and gentlemen, I was born in Peshawar, Pakistan. The only memories of my early life in motherland are photographs of faces too unfamiliar and places too foreign. London being London, I had the convenience to grow up around people, religion, languages, customs and cuisines that could be considered an interconnection between the West and the East. As much as I love the look on peoples faces when they see me alternating from one language to the next, this definitely was not something I was proud of while growing up.

And this is where ‘but’ comes in.

I am disgusted to say that this particular ‘but’ has revolved around my life one too many times. It was used to expose the West in me, while demeaning my remaining character. Like in my school days when I once shrugged after saying, “but I don’t know French or Spanish like everyone else does”, completely disregarding my 5 other languages from the East. My youthful mind did not realise how this word degraded everything that did not deserve to be degraded. I did everything I could to cut the chords that tied me to a strange land and it’s bearings.

And now, living away from London, away from the bubble in which I thrived, I feel a sense of longing. I miss the smell of samosas[1] and I miss counting down till iftar[2]. I miss the vibrant colours of my bangles and I miss the traditional clothing, which now takes up the darkest corner of my wardrobe.

But this is all so difficult.

Growing up has rescued my integrity for sure, but I have come to experience a sense of noisomeness that society has towards my identity. If you don’t belong to a culture that has clothing which looks ‘bizarre’ and ‘exotic’, then you won’t know the looks you receive when you are saving your dupatta from flying away. If your skin isn’t anything except white, then you will also have no idea what it feels like when you smile at natives and they don’t smile back. And of course, if you are not a Muslim, you won’t have any idea what kind of condescending “jokes” you have to laugh off in order to avoid conflict. Not just my headline-making religion, but my Afghan heritage makes the terrorism “jokes” to the top of the list. I will lay aside these “jokes” for another blog post because really, there is no end to it.

This doesn’t go to say that motherland is the Garden of Eden I have been so-called craving for. Oh dear, dear. I am spoken to in a deliberately basic manner, given less spice in my food, loaded with litres over litres of mineral water, dumped under the air-con because apparently I am a foreigner who does not understand her mother tongue, cannot tolerate spice or the water and will most probably pass out in the South Asian heat.

Motherland simply does not accept me.

So where is home?

Is home where I can steal luxuries in the name of a foreigner?

Or is home where I am thought to be stealing jobs as an immigrant?

Is home where I speak the languages of my ancestors?

Or is home where I speak the language I learnt in school?

Is home in the tropical summers?

Or is home in the English rain?

The mismatched elements in my existence mean I am everywhere, but belong nowhere.

-brown girl with issues

Samosa[1] a triangular savoury pastry fried in ghee or oil, containing spiced vegetables or meat, originating from Central Asia.

Iftar[2] the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan.

A Message

(Takes a deep breath)

I follow an Instagram account of a Pathologist, who posts graphic medical images for education purposes. Her posts are intriguing because she engages with her followers by doing thought-provoking things like ‘forensic friday’ or mystery diagnosis, where her followers analyse the image and comment what they think it is. However, a lot of her posts are removed due to censorship, which really disappoints me (and her 70k followers). You can crack someones head open in a video game but that’s not violent, a video of brain surgery is violent. (ha)
It’s science.
It’s education.
And if you really want to go down the line of ‘it is harmful for young people using social media’, then please may I clarify that nude art isn’t removed and neither are naked celebrities. So why does media have these sick double standards where we can’t respectfully remove a brain for education but we can remove our panties for demonstration?

As much as I love the media for it’s usefulness, I hate it just as much for it’s negative effects. Not just for the fact that you’re constantly beaten down with anxiety-causing, “ideal” body images,but also because media feeds people’s hunger for controversies and rumours. So young minds watch pointless shows like Big Brother, The Jeremy Kyle Show and learn what exactly? The F word? The S word? Or maybe the B word? Take your pick. Even more, Kim Kardashian’s nude pictures can go viral for all I care, but our mum’s can’t breastfeed in public? Children sit their bums in front of their computer screens to play games and are bombarded with inappropriate ads. Someone please explain to me what Dino Pets has got to do with boobs? (simultaneously bangs head on wall)
Their innocence does not need to be ruined like that.

What sickens me the most is that media plays such a big role in our lives that we can’t run away from it. I didn’t intend to make this post sound like a rant but I do hope I am able to get a message across. A message to protect yourself (and the little ones) from subliminal manipulation. A message to not allow your 11 year old sister to concentrate on her brows more than her books. A message to educate yourselves. A message to be responsible and attentive to what is thrown at you.

Peace and love.