I know life has been hard for you since the day you lost your Mom at the age of just 1. I don’t claim to feel the pain you have been through since then, but I surely am able to know how much a child of merely 1 is desperate for a motherly care; a time when no one can take place of her. I know how you must have been searching for her everywhere and not being able to utter words you must have cried a lot finding your Mom nowhere to be found all of a sudden. It blows away the smile on my face to think of the worst days you experienced with the early blossom of your life. To fail to keep sight of someone who understands you and the only one whom you really need is beyond my art of penning down. I wish there were a time machine so that I could make one fine journey to that part of your life and edit out those parts which made things hard for you.
I know you have always been strong enough back then to deal with the problems you faced, but just because someone is strong enough doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel the pain. Identically, I know exactly how you feel when today everybody measures your daughters against the standard definition of well behaved and the good girls of the Chitrali society (Northern areas of Pakistan). Where people accuse us being driven by the western culture and a threat to their pure ancestral culture through their back biting gossips or through social media comments, I know exactly how you feel. I know how our cultural expectations of girls behaving modest create conflicting ideas towards us, who don’t fit in the box of modest girl’s definition. Not fitting in the box has created hostility towards us; we are being judged and neglected by the same teachers who once taught us to fight for our rights. When I take a trip down memory lane I recall how I was praised by the same teachers few years back but I wonder what happened in the long run that they don’t even bother to respond to our emails. The same teachers who once inspired us to chase our dreams have turned their backs on us! These ruthless behaviors of people towards us sometimes make us feel bad about ourselves. At time I feel so vulnerable and downhearted that I end up with tears in my eyes. I soberly try to come to the conclusion of what is the thing that I do now and never did before which has shocked so many people including my teachers and to my amazement I merely find myself living my life the way I want, the way I dress, the way I think and the way I write.
Why someone should be bothered about how I as an individual live my life is crossing over my head. I have never been able to fathom the double standards of our society. Chitrali society has problem with the way women dress up however, only few are being judged while most of the girls have the same type of dress up. While few girls have their face book photos most of them have their Instagram photos. I vainly make an effort to decipher why face book has been stigmatized this much! While most of the girls sing in their schools, colleges and universities but Chitrali cultural sentiments get hurt when my sister Rakhshinda Shakir sings in her own room merely to entertain herself. “There is nothing wrong with singing but bringing it to the social media” is how they chat on the topic, ignoring the fact how many times they themselves post on face book of what they eat, how they feel, where they travel and what not. Everything becomes an issue when it is about the girls who think differently and talk about their rights not giving any damn about the mainstream behavior. I used to participate in singing back in school under the supervision of my teachers but that was never a problem, nonetheless, when you sing and upload on face book they condemn it saying if it was under their supervision that would have never happened. Why did you allow me to sing in the first place when I was in your supervision? Why do you consider it problematic when what have changed here are only the audience and the context? This compels me to think that yes we can do anything but under the veil!! That is exactly how the majority of the students behave; they sing in an event of school, college or university but do not upload it. They use Instagram but do not update face book profile failing to consider that Instagram or Face book are two different versions of the same technology, using one and ignoring the other doesn’t make it any different. However it makes substantial difference in Chitrali context where updating face book profiles with our own pictures become a big issue. They keep a negative perception and rail against everything we do. They don’t appraise our write up, they find problem with our way of practicing and promoting feminism. They have so much to criticize and I don’t understand the reason behind.
Dear Dad do you not see how puzzled the people in our area are; they don’t even understand their double standards and keep labeling us bad girls, sluts or what not!! Instead of fixing their ideologies they bang away to spread negative vibes about us and urging their girls to not be in contact with the fearlessly confidant and rebels. Alas they understand how much courage and critical thinking it needs to be one! I do not suppose to label the boys and girls out there as time worn or typically traditional but I do suppose them to accept the one who is different from them. Having our pictures on face book, wearing pant shirts or singing doesn’t make us slut! Dear dad I am conscious of how these gossips and the people will become hampering in your tranquility but I don’t want you to feel distress or awful about it. I want to confess that the world witnesses numerous daughters like us but a father like you is very rare. In the midst of all these negativity and abusing words, we look for a support and there you are always counteracting those negative vibes. No matter how harsh people’s behavior towards us we don’t find any difference in your behavior even though their comments are hampering your tranquility. In a society where family’s “supposed honor” is highly regarded and women are highly responsible to carefully carry the honor it becomes very difficult for a father to digest such abusive comments about his daughters. But you have always been different from people and fathers surrounding you. I don’t think any father has the strength of my Dad to fight with the society for his daughters. Dear dad no dramatization and bragging but I will never be able to thank you enough for your contribution in my life. Your inexhaustible support and love has provided me with nerve to be who I am and feel proud about it.
Dear dad this is a gentle reminder from your daughter to thank you and remind you to not feel hurt and downhearted of people’s comments because your daughters like you, don’t surrender to setbacks and adversities. Your daughters will always take stand for themselves and against the injustices and the so called double standards of the society. The only thing we require is your support and love for without it we will be suffering like you when you needed your Mom at the age of 1 and she wasn’t there for you. I always want you to be there for us for without you I wouldn’t even be able to put down this note!! We are blessed to have you with us to defend us against the negative and harsh labels of the society. Thank you Dad!! <3