08 March 2014


I know you think I’m a bitch. I’ve only heard it more than a thousands time in the last few years. I know you think I’m over the top, too public, too unreasonable, too extreme, too bitchy. I know you think I’m scary and I know you think I’m intimidating. I know you’ve gone up to some of my “less extreme” and my “less feminist” and my “less intimidating” friends and complained about me. I know you’ve said that I post too much about things that aren’t important. Or that I whine too much. Or that I put up too many selfies. I know you believe I’m wrong about thinking gender roles are a social construct, and I know you believe that transgender and transexual people aren’t real. I know you believe I’m going to hell for not being a homophobe. I know that you totally get where I’m coming from, you just wish I was more friendly about it. I know you only want me to be more understanding of the bigots. I know you want me to know that you are only only trying to tell me that I can reach out to a wider group of people if I just compromise a little bit on my values, a little bit on my time. I know you think people won’t think of me as so much of a bitch if I just let them tone-police me and if I just let a few things go.

Well, I’d like to remind you of something you already know. I don't give a fuck. I’m glad you think I’m a bitch. I’m glad I intimidate you. I’m glad you’re too afraid to talk to me because you are right. I will shut you down and I will tell you to fuck off and that will be the end of the conversation. I embrace the label. I am a bitch. I’ve been one since the fifth grade. You have been trying since the fifth grade to shame me, to get me to shut up, to tell me I am a freak, to tell me my opinions are invalid. Try some more. Try your whole life. We can both pretend that I’ll be waiting.

17 March 2013


A Spice Girls doll - The damsel in distress
G I Joe - Our hero. Duh.
Christie - The bad-ass bestfriend
Hulk Hogan - Wise, old uncle with questionable taste in clothes (I was 9, okay?!)
Mumm-Ra - Bad guy
The rest of the cast consists of more WWE wrestlers, a dog and some velociraptors.

There's nine year old me, playing pretend with a dear cousin of mine. This cousin is a boy, as you can tell from the toys (Christie was mine, and Posh Spice had been abandoned by some person.) We followed a standard plot line. Evil, mutant'd bad guy captures our damsel (beautiful according to society's standards), hurting the bestfriend in the process, who he doesn't capture because he doesn't find her attractive because he's a racist prick. The bestfriend tries to figure out a way to save her friend but she doesn't have the means, so she goes to G.I Joe, our attractive, strong hero who has a crush on Posh. (The word crush made me giggle back then much to my older cousin's amusement. I can't believe he put up with me.) Joe goes to Hogan for tips and stuff because although he's lost his strength, he was still a powerful, young guy back in the day, and can give some sound advice. Small armies are rounded up on both sides, luxury cars and...velociraptors are thrown in, and a battle ensues. The battle is won, the bad guys now forgotten, Posh has been recovered. She is now in love with some guy she barely knows, but it is all good because they're both gorgeous, and they have a dog.

My cousin asks:

"Should we kill off one of the good guys, Fatin?"
"One of the less useful ones. Maybe Christie or Hogan?"
"But I love them all."
"Of course Fati, but the story has to be believable, does it not?"
"Can we not, for once, have a happy ending?"
"It'll still be a happy ending."
"Only because the couple has survived?"
"Hogan can die saving Posh. Or he can fall off a cliff by accident."
*tears threaten to make themselves known*
"Okay, it's okay, we don't have to kill anybody off. Look Joe and Posh are getting married. I even put on the tophat on Joe. Do you want them to kiss?"
*blushes. hides face*

28 February 2013

Hey, I'm a feminist.

I was initially afraid to call myself a feminist. There were many silly reasons. The main one, that as soon as you mention you're a feminist, people assume you're an angry, alienated, girl-boy whose vagina is out to eat you. Feminists can't take jokes, they hate men, they have no sense of fashion, and their hair is cut really short, they're lesbians, they're perpetually bitter, they have cats, lots and lots of cats, they live in a bubble, they've been abused, and they're broken.
I know that this notion of what a feminist is as close to the truth as what the world thinks, of Pakistanis and of women in general, I know because I am all of those.
I didn't want all these labels on me, but I wanted people to know that I stand up for women rights too, so I would always explain myself when I said I was a feminist.

“I'm a feminist but I'm not angry like you think I am.”
“I'm a feminist but not like those you see on tv being made fun of.”
“I'm a feminist but I'm not violent.”
“I'm a feminist but I don't hate men.”
“I'm actually more of an equalist.”
“I believe in men’s rights too.”

Well, long story short, I've never been a push-over, and I'm not insecure, so I figured if I could handle the rest, I could handle people thinking me this cookie-cutter, cardboard, monochrome stereotype. Because this is what I needed. I needed to stop explaining myself, to stop watching boys snigger, the other girls roll their eyes, from "yeah but-" NO. I've watched marriages fall apart, I've watched a man beat his wife and take away her kid, I've heard a man threaten to beat his wife because she works to support the family and isn't home in time to serve him food. 

And WHY shouldn't I be angry? Do you know, do you know how much there is to be angry about? Why do I have to watch what I wear? Why do my friends tell my not to walk out in the street even with them around because it's dangerous? Why can't I sit alone at a dhaba? Why do I have to tie up my hair? Why am I afraid that if I want to go ahead and get drunk I need a friend who's sober because I might get raped?Why do I have to put up with men twice-thrice my age stare at me with intent? Why can't I just go to sea-view? Why do I need to make sure a park is safe before I choose it for my early-morning walks? Why can't I be sexy? Why am I to be shamed for having a boyfriend, for flirting, for kissing, for enjoying sex? Why do I have to hear about "rishta-aunties" and prospective in-laws look me over like I'm a piece of meat? Why do I have to hear that  a woman is like a diamond, you don't show it off, or that I'm like gold, way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock; you've got to work hard to get to me? I'm not an object. I'm a person. I'm a person. How dare you compare me to something that doesn't breathe, doesn't move, can't think? What does it matter how valuable that thing is? HOW is it more valuable than I am?

Yes, there are a lot of mad feminists. And they're merciless because a lot of bad things happened to them and/or to people they love dearly. 

Feminists are feminine, they're tomboys, they like to put on dark lipsticks, they like to play football, they don't cut their hair, they cut it all off, they're happily married, they are single, they've been through ugly divorces, they have kids, they have cats, they wear no make-up, they're actresses, they're journalists, housewives, models, daughters, lovers, writers, artists, engineers, doctors. They are women. They are men.

We don't have to make excuses for ourselves. We don't have to explain ourselves. We are feminists. We're proud. And we are not going to let you get away with it.

23 February 2013

A Love Letter

Lately I've realized I don't have a lot of love for Pakistan. I don't understand most of it. Heck, I don't even know most of it. It took a long time for me to admit it, but I'm just not patriotic.

But Karachi, Karachi's mine. It's the blood that pounds in my brain. It's the fear in my veins. Karachi's mine.

This filthy, foul, feculent city is all I've ever known.

Karachi's beauty is comical and cruel; made flexible and malleable for its jaded inhabitants. Sometimes, it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. When you're sitting on the paan-stained walls of sea view, your feet just brushing against the dirty sand because you don't really want to put your feet in it, it lulls you in. Karachi.

When you're stranded in God-awful traffic because some government official, or their son wants to pass through, and a transgender person comes up to you, and suddenly you notice the shalwar belt is embroidered. Wait. What.

When your hand is pressed against the doorbell, hoping your mother will open the door before somebody robs you in your own street and you notice how innocent it looks in the street-light   

Mostly it's the kind of beauty that has you smile a sad smile. Kids playing in dirty rain pools with the happiest smiles. A child, who's a beggar, refusing the drink you handed him, because you're a burger kid and that unknown drink could be alcohol. A bearded man and a woman in a burqa exchanging a quick kiss in a public park. A gori, pathani girl roaming in a heavy sharara in Dolmen City Mall.  A quick glance at the murky water at Beach Luxury.  

Yes, we're jaded, we're apathetic, but the wounds that run underneath are too hideous to see. They would destroy us, those of us who haven't been touched by immediate tragedy yet. And I know that these things happen, and they will happen to me or to the people I love the most someday if we don't change, if we don't step up but I don't know if I have the strength to just try. It's going to take years and decades and it's just so damn easy to sit here in my little bubble in Defence and laugh off bomb blasts or the “halaat kharaab hain” because these things just don’t happen.

So while my love is selfish and twisted and maybe not what Karachi needs, it is what I have. I know myself to be materialistic and I know I love beautiful things, but this ugly city that just continues to grow uglier day by day is home. Karachi is intimate, it's familiar, and it's mine. You just can't take Karachi out of this girl. 

12 January 2013

Hard and Gone

I'm not an emotional person. I'm not compassionate. I couldn't care less about who’s going through what kind of pain. I try to feel it, I honestly do, but all that’s left is this dull sense of dread that…I actually don’t care. There’s a pretense  there’s always been a pretense. There HAS to be a pretense. I can’t have people knowing just how callous I am. I can’t have people knowing how objectively I view their situations and their problems.
I don’t have any damn sob stories; I don’t have any childhood traumas. They don’t count because I've handled them; I've taken care of it. There’s no dust to be settled, no need for them to be brought up. They've been burned hard and long, and they’re gone.
So I don’t know what’s changed. I don’t know why I see snippets of anger so dark, so volatile that I almost don’t recognize myself. I've felt guilt that ripped me apart from inside. I've felt so sad that I truly didn't know to fix it.
I don’t know where these shreds of feelings come from. All I know is that it’s something new and it’s someone new. I'm not someone who’s used to negative feelings. Actually, I'm not really used to a lot of feelings to begin with.  I don’t know how to deal with this other person suddenly coming to realization. I've been here too long, and I've fought too bloody long to be who I am, and it is God-damn confusing to grasp that that may not be who I want to be.
I have seen a lot of worlds burn. I've been watching people cry, sniffle, convince themselves to move on, to accept, to forgive, to change all my life. I have been listening to sad stories about loving yourself, hurting yourself, knowing yourself.
I keep wondering if it’s my turn. I wonder when it’s going to happen to me, IF it’s going to happen to me. Sometimes the storms come down hard, but so far the shelter’s held. I'm just terrified that one day, the roof is going to cave in, and the only one left standing will be the new person. The one that doesn't know how to build that shelter back up.