Memories. There are only memories left of me. Nothing tangible; just a long, lonely walk to infinite.
I find myself lost in the past, a haze of sorts preventing me from seeing the future.
I am confused. I am emotionally distant. And somewhere, deep inside of me, there is pain.
So much pain, that I am afraid to touch it; lest it devours me.
The dying embers of a love lost; never truly die. Love never really runs dry. The tears, however; the tears stop flowing after a time. So now, only my eyes reflect the pain inside.
All around me, life moves on. Laughter, happiness, new beginnings, new lives, new relationships…. and all the while, deep inside, there is a sorrowful cry.
I have big plans; plans which would never have come into place had you decided to remain by my side. Plans that aim to take me away; far away from this place, where there are only memories…
Wherever I turn, there is a familiar face. Be it a building or a street or a person, everywhere I turn, I see you. Sudden flashbacks take me unawares, leaving my breathless, unable to utter a word. It is a wonder I am coherent at all.
Time has not healed my fall. A numbing sensation creeps slowly from the pit of my stomach to the corners of my body, touching my very soul. My heart is pumping furiously, as my soul shudders and tries to stand after the blow. My body cannot help but curl up into a ball; the sudden opening of a window to many beautiful memories renders me nearly senseless. I am sitting here, in a crowd, yet I am not. I am far away, so far away, with you.
A mention of an event, a laugh, a sound, even the clouds… anything, anywhere, can remind me of you. How you would have reacted, what you might have said had you been here, what you used to say, how you used to laugh….
The dimple on the side of your face, which I would be so helpless against. I wish I could kiss it away again. I wish you were here right now to tell me about your day, or to simply laugh at something I say. How you used to force me to speak, when I was overcome with emotion and unable to utter a word – I am afraid now; now that I am all alone.
I don’t know what the future holds. But I know this; I can never compromise on what we had, what I have felt and seen; what I have experienced. I don’t know where I will go, where I am headed; but I do know that I can never accept anything less than what we had. But I don’t think I will ever get it again; because, see, there is no us. There is no you. There is only me.
And you’ve taken the best part of me. Now, what is left, is nothing but dust and ash. There is nothing but a numb, hollow pain left inside of me.
From time immemorial, men have been doing their best to fit into a stringent image of what it truly means to be “masculine”. From heavy outdoor work to being the sole earner of the family no matter how hard the economic situation might be, the world has been a witness to the slow but sure consistency of certain must-have traits that make men who they are.
Yet, with the passing of time, such concepts have evolved into a wider spectrum of options, allowing men – and women – to come into their own and experiment with who they really are without having to cater to social pressures. This is probably the reason why there are so many stay-at-home dads and so many working mothers these days; finally, the age-old boundaries that divided both genders have begun to blur. The world is a much easier place than it was a couple of centuries ago; not ignoring of course the fact that such new turf brings new battles to the fore.
While those believing in the old ideologies try to hold on to by-gone days, the world around them evolves and they are either shed in the process or dragged forward like the burden that they are until they learn to accept the social evolution that has taken the globe by storm.
French choreographer and dancer Yanis Marshall is the epitome of the “social evolution” we speak of today. A brilliant dancer and a lover of men’s heels, he can “werk” those heels better than most women can walk in them. The runner up of Britain’s Got Talent reality competition show this year, Yanis Marshall with Mehdi and Arnaud made quite a stir with his controversial (and picture perfect) dance routines – not just in the UK but around the globe.
His website is just as colorful as his personality.
Marshall has choreographed brilliant dance routines that have left the professionals stunned and audiences begging for more.
The rehearsal for the Finals at B.G.T, which took place the night before at Studio 68 in London.
The final episode of B.G.T, where the sexiness of Marshall’s routine was a bit too much for Simon Cowell and he pressed the buzzer at the FINAL. Really, Simon, what were you thinking?!
Walking the similar – yet slightly different – path to fame as Marshall is Thomas Newirth from Austria – better know by his stage name Conchita Wurst – winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014. Below is the performance he gave which blew the whole world away.
The mixed reviews both stars got shed some light on the current battle half the world is going through in order to accept the blurring of the lines that differentiated gender roles and stereotypes in days of the past. Marshall, in February of this year, tweeted to all his haters “I’ve got more. Be patient.”
While Conchita Wurst’s message to the world is one of peace and unity, where “your sexuality and who you love does not matter”; Marshall’s sass and general high-handed attitude shows he knows his worth – and isn’t afraid to flaunt what he has got. Girls, maybe you should learn a few tricks from him – those high heels can really be put to good use, if you know what i mean.
Today is a very sad day for all of Pakistan. For all of us as a society. A rape victim who set herself ablaze on March 13, before the Bet Mir Hazar police station in protest against the police report that favored the main accused and helped to set him free, died at 9am this morning.
The 18-year-old first year student had been returning home from college on Jan 5 when she was set upon by four men and allegedly raped in a deserted area. The Medical Superintendent at Nishtar Hospital had stated that she had sustained 80 per cent wounds on her body after she set herself aflame – adding that victims with 50 per cent wounds rarely survive. So it was no surprise that she succumbed to her wounds soon after the incident.
I have no words to express how I feel. There is rage, shock and pain surging through me – but no surprise. None at all. For this is not the first time a woman has been crushed beneath the misogynist wheel of Pakistani society. We might love to brandish our “Islamic” status and scream ourselves hoarse declaring the nation an “Islamic Republic”, but truth be told we are no better than the so-called “savior cum rebels” of Congo that deal in child soldiers and declare women their war prizes.
Recently, a 40-year-old widow was gang raped in Muzaffargarh on order of the panchayat. Her crime? Her brother’s alleged love affair with a woman from a high social background. She was then paraded naked through the village before her humiliation was declared complete and the boiling blood of those avenging their “good name” was somewhat satisfied.
Given the constant religious fervor that has our society in its grips – let me ask you: what Islam is this? which Islam in the world teaches such barbaric laws? For the religion the Prophet (pbuh) taught almost 1500 years ago had, at its core, respect for women and the sanctity of their rights as individuals and human beings. Take a look at this article by the Islamic Information and Services Network of Australasia if you doubt this claim.
Women in Pakistan, however, have no status. None at all.
An investigation in 2009 carried out by journalist Iftikhar Ahmad in interior Sindh and Balochistan regarding honor killings and panchayat rape cases uncovered very disturbing evidence regarding the mindset of tribal and interior society with respect to their women. When asked by the interviewer whether women could kill men for honor, 95% of 20 the men present vehemently denied it, stating it was wrong. Yet, when asked why a woman could be killed for the same, most could come up with no solid justification for their answer.
That is, until the leader of the tribe looked the interviewer dead in the eye and said in Balochi “women are like flies. If a fly is hovering over your food, you will kill it, won’t you?”
Suffice it to say that the interviewer had no idea how to respond to that rhetoric and simply stared back for a few minutes as if flabbergasted by the whole concept before finally rising to the occasion and moving on to the next question.
This past week has been filled with major shocks for the female population of Pakistan. The country’s “BOOM BOOM Afridi” stuck a major thorn in his backside when he jokingly remarked that Pashtun women should stay in the kitchen because their cooking skills are unparalleled. That careless statement of Mr. Afridi’s might have cost him a large fan base, if the outrage that resulted from the leaked video is any indication.
The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) recently also issued two fatwas hot on the heels of one another which had the entire nation seriously questioning the advisory body’s worth. The fatwas went as follows:
2. Laws prohibiting underage marriage are against Islam and should be changed. (Apparently, they are of the opinion that while marriage between two entities can take place without any proper age barrier, the rukhsati ceremony must only be done after puberty is reached)
As rights activist Fauzia Saeed, said in a telephonic interview with me a couple of months back for a project I was working on, “our patriarchal society does not recognize women as individuals but rather as property. If a mature woman leaves home of her own accord, a case is registered by the in-laws or her family in the police station stating her status as that of a ‘run away’. They fail to recognize that a woman above 20-years-old is her own master and can make her own choices; she is not liable to anybody. She has the right to walk out and declare her own independence if she so wishes.”
The nation’s number one newspaper Dawn released an article detailing the statistics of violence against women in Pakistan in 2013. According to a world report by the Human Rights Watch detailing Pakistan, hundreds of reported incidents of honor killings took place in 2013 alone – with the unofficial number unknown.
Is it any wonder, then, that our society is heading backwards in time? When even the police officer or inspector on duty closes the rape case(s) by conducting his own investigation instead of recording an FIR and going through the proper channels; thus preventing the case to ever get to court, let alone provide the victim with an avenue for justice. Those who try to intervene and fight for the right of the victim are told, in no uncertain terms, to back off.
If it is a case of domestic violence, the victim’s supporter(s) is asked to mind their own business (sometimes even threatened) and told “not destroy a beautiful home”. I ask you – what home? Homes are supposed to consist of love and equal rights for all, with mutual consent, support and trust on both sides. No matter what the social class, 99% of the “homes” in our society are built solely on fear.
Our society’s habit of turning a blind eye to atrocities over the years has made it immune to the cries of those that face the pain. A rape victim, instead of being supported in her endeavor for justice, is asked by her own family and “well-wishers” to remain silent and not besmirch the reputation and name of the family more than it already has been.
Now, given the recent events that have been unfolding before our disbelieving eyes, is it any wonder that the world at large declares us to be 200 years behind times? When our women are not safe on the streets, when the high walls of a house are used to hide the cruelty and subjugation faced by the women it “protects”… When prosecutors utterly destroy rape victims in court during their race to win cases and when even the judge(s) can be so insensitive as to comment “this sounds like a 007 movie” after a rape victim has finished narrating her ordeal… I ask you: what is left?
I would love to go on and on about the myriad of incidents that have taken place where rape victims have been left on the sidelines of society to dwindle away to nothing or where women have suffered domestic violence and sexual harassment , only to learn that the entire system is rotten to the core.
As a society where walking on fire is considered a normal and “accurate” trial for judgement, where panchayats can order gang-rapes without any fear of law or god, where acid attacks on women and children in reciprocation of “disobedience” or “free will” are accepted as a part of society, where MPAs can rape women and children and get away scot-free and where the media focuses on the victim instead of the perpetrator – we are headed in a downward spiral.
Yet, even in the midst of such chaos, there are angels that walk the earth in the form of WAR, Bedari, AASHA, Panah Shelter, Bilquis Edhi Home and many more. They fight for the rights of those who cannot fight for themselves, unafraid of the consequences and regardless of the power of those they stand against. It is because of such institutions that the rest of us still have faith in this country and the hope that one day in the future, we will have managed to light up the darkness.
We may have moved ahead in some areas, considering that we also have women in the army, the air force and the workplaces. And while that in itself is a huge accomplishment, there is still a long way to go.