In a vibrant new video, journalist Nushmia Khan examines the hands of the Pakistanis she met while reporting.
“With all these hands, I could only see potential — potential in a country that has been deemed a failure by so many,” she writes.
Love, Inshallah’s fiction debut!
The False Phoenix
Not a drop of rain had fallen in six weeks. Then one August afternoon, Zeenat watched from her window as day turned to night in under a minute, pregnant charcoal clouds overpowered the sun, and the sky roared as rain started to pour.
Zeenat had a tingling sensation in her fingertips, as a strange half smile teased her lips. She watched the sheets of rain appear and disappear like magical clothes swaying on a clothesline, their visibility a series of staccatos, from her window. There was not a soul in sight so she wasn’t worried about the outside staff catching a glimpse of her uncovered head; there was no need to hide behind a drawn curtain and tilt her head to peek out onto the courtyard, as was custom for the women in the house she had come to call her own.
Before her marriage she had looked upon the event with the optimism characteristic to most young ladies; she had believed her marriage would be a liberating experience, she would have her own house, a husband and at some point obedient children. Perhaps it would all give her license to make her own decisions, the way her mother seemed to do while she was growing up. She didn’t realize the invisible hand of societal pressure would not only follow her into her new house, but a similar burden in the shape of a whole other set of norms would be waiting for her in her father-in-law’s large haveli, where she was welcomed as daughter-in-law and wife of the eldest son.
It had been two years since she had agreed to marry Abid, and though her marriage wasn’t what she had hoped for she had found comfortable crevices, compromises and half-sacrifices, and had conveniently settled into them. She considered herself to be – for the most part – happy.
I have opinions. About the X-Men.
I’m a child of the 1990’s, so my reference point is the amazing cartoon, “X-Men: The Animated Series,” which aired from 1992-1997 (like “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace,” the recent movies simply don’t exist in my brain database). Rogue was my favorite, she of the big hair, epic sass, and ability to fly. I had a crush on Gambit, and an inexplicable thing for guys with N’Awlins accents and the ability to handle a deck of playing cards ever since. As I got older, I appreciated Cyclops’ leadership, Wolverine’s unrequited love, and Storm’s wisdom (and seriously folks, that rockin’ mane of white hair was a force of nature in and of itself). Even Jean Grey managed to kick ass as the Phoenix.
But somehow, I managed to largely discount Professor Xavier, the man who created a school for those who were misunderstood or shunned, some even orphaned, literally and figuratively. He was the man with the plan. He gave society’s outcasts a future.
I found myself thinking of Professor X in Pakistan this past August, during my first trip back in ten years. Since coming back, I’ve been ruminating on Pakistan this time around and what it taught me. Pakistan, for all its damage and strange beauty, has always held lessons for me. I was born there, and though I’ve had the hyphenated Pakistani-American identity since I was one year and one month old, Pakistani earth makes up my skin and Punjab’s rivers flow through my veins.
Rounding out our weekend of awesome women:
27-year-old Raha Moharrak made history by becoming the first Saudi woman to conquer Mount Everest yesterday.
Moharrak’s ascent is the latest step in changing attitudes towards women and sports in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom fielded its first female Olympians at the 2012 Games and officially permitted sports in private girls schools for the first time earlier this month.
Read more at CNN.
Meet two more awesome women after the jump!
The bowl was in the dishwasher at work and I recognized it instantly. That rim of earthy green flowers decorating the edge of a crisp white Pyrex bowl. My grandmother had a set of the very same dishes in her house in Karachi and they would sometimes make an appearance at chai time. Was it a sign from God? Maybe. Maybe not. But it was something. See, my grandmother passed away last week. Mumma lived a long, full, and happy life. She traveled the world and had a large circle of beautiful and warm friends. She lived to see her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren build beautiful families and lives of their own. Hands down, Mumma was easily the most gracious and loved person I knew.
And yet, when my mother called to tell me of her passing, I had a very removed reaction. It had been many years since I’d seen Mumma. Over the last few years, her hearing had started fading and phone calls became too taxing. I would essentially have a conversation with her nurse who would yell my statements to my grandmother and then relay my grandmother’s response back. Sometimes, the nurse forgot that she didn’t need to yell the response back to me so the entire phone call became a very loud, almost ironic game of Telephone. Thereafter, her memory became foggy and she could never quite remember which grandchild I was. Eventually, the nurse was forced to admit my grandmother had no idea who I was and why I was calling. So, I stopped calling.