Art Thou a Good Book???

I recently read a news article that Malala’s book launch was stopped in Peshawar. And IK had a balanced yet debatable view on it. Although we don’t have ‘jahils’ in Peshawar we can’t call KPK an educated mass of land which can bear the brunt of Malala’s story. When Karachi and Lahore have issues with her book and cannot sit and debate about her book amicably in a reasonable manner without disrupting the peace of the larger majority and the non-Muslims of Pakistan, the book was being released by a dastard crowd in the most volatile province of Pakistan. Does that make sense to anybody? It doesn’t to me!

Book launches in Pakistan are a wonderful affair, smell of fresh paper, literati and the media circus. It does wonders to boost your self-image and, if you are an avid book reader, does wonders for that mind that is yearning for the flow of words and some alone time with a fresh cup of chocolate, milk or tea.

I particularly like the signing booth. I guess most writers would like to see themselves signing books, but the line of excited people trying to get their books signed by the author is mesmerizing. Shows a lot of compassion for books.

Same goes for exhibitions and book expos. A whole lot of books sold and a whole lot of people looking for those favorite and wonderful titles from old stocks and and clearances that different participants do in exhibitions. But exhibitions are a wonderful way to see new countries exhibit their collections of exotic covers and once in a lifetime chance to see some of the titles. They might be priced heftily but some titles are just single copies and such expos might be the best time to grab them.

Books and information in books should be treasured and pleasurable. Investment in books and lone time is made with a motive of enjoying a novel or reading for understanding one’s life better and easier. Once that is out of the equation, no one will want to buy a book. No one wants to listen to a soliloquy or self-praise. No one wants to read something that degrades one nation or one class, creed against another. If someone is looking for such material explicitly, beware, they might have severe failings as an individual to find fault with a crowd!

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Harass the harassment…

“Muashra kharaab hai (the society is not good for you),” said the mother, with concern.

“Bahir jaogi to kuttay kha jaegay tumhain (If you go out alone people will not leave you),” said the father, furrowing his forehead.

“Taangein na tor dun tumhari mein (I will break your legs if you leave the house),” said the brother, tightening his fists

“Bohat shoq hai tumhain sunnay ki, aur sun lo (Don’t you love listening to all this),’ said the sister, filing her nails.

These are the regular you can hear in the less-than-average household in Karachi, Lahore, Hyderabad, maybe any random city of Pakistan with slight variation in the severity. Anyone who knows such a household will know when a girl from such a household tries to go out and work cannot because of the ‘wow’ factors of the such a neighborhood even though the girl will wear the best covering in terms of clothing.

Another scenario:

“Khayaal se jana (Take care),” said the mother, concerned.

“Bhai chor aaega, akele mat jao (Don’t go alone, take your brother with you),” said the father, motioning the ‘younger’ brother lounging in the couch to get up and walk his sister to the stop.

As frustrated as he can be at being asked to get up from that couch, he still goes with his ‘baji’ till the stop.

“Mujhe bhi job karni hai parhai k baad after studies (I will also work after my studies),’ said the sister, gulping her milk with a wishful look on her face and hurrying for the van. A slight look of concern flashes across the faces of the parents.

A middle class family prays for the safe return of their daughter each day. She travels in a bus to save money for that Sony smartphone and for that wedding gift she wants to buy her friends next month. But she has ground realities waiting for her till she can fulfill all those innocent wishes.

And there you have a household with a story and a community with a culture and a Pakistan with a sensibility. But do we have to be concerned with the concerns that all these people have for the female gender of the society. Let me think and ask again….. oh yes we do. Are we insecure? Yes. Is that good? No. Can it be any different? Yes. How? 🙂

A famous Pakistani comic strip thinks we should raise our voice against the atrocious behavior that leads to such sensibilities; namely sexual harassment and sexual assault. But what has raising voice done for violence against women, liberation for women and rights for women. Little I would say! So without raising voice and crying out loud, I say solve the problem.

It isn’t that difficult. Groping a woman isn’t funny, neither is calling her funny names on the street or even talking about her in a sexual manner with a bunch of friend; that my friends is the worst form of sexual harassment that goes unnoticed, un-felt and unseen. So who is the culprit here and who is the victim. Personally I feel the old adage; a victim, being a victim gives rise to oppression. Now, now, now don’t just start with that stereotyped whaling, ” O she is against women,” or even the more famous, “she feels so victim-centric” whatever that means really! Coming back…. both the oppressor and oppressed are to blame.

Women in our society are ‘taught’ to be the weaker sex, ‘brought up’ to be the weaker sex even ‘conditioned’ to be the weaker sex, so much so that many, almost 90% believe that being weak is being pretty. Sorry to burst your bubble gals! It aint pretty, you are stronger than you think, use that physical and emotional strength at least to protect yourself. Men on the other hand are always ‘taught’ by those same ‘weak’ women that they can conquer the world and by some magical inference women too.

So sexual harassment ‘comes easily’ to men and not to women. Has a woman ever groped a guy in a public bus? Has she ever hooted at a lone boy in Pakistan? Will she ever think of touching him? The answer is a plain NO! She wouldn’t touch a boy no matter how high on estrogen she is because she is ‘ingrained’ with morals, while there is ‘no check’ on the morals of the boys of the same family! Boys can fake it too well I guess. The same ‘weak’ women of the family will hardly notice it through the facade!

Cutting a long story short, most of it comes from the house, training and what and where you learn. A man who harasses a woman outside his home, probably doesn’t respect his mother, doesn’t talk right to his sister or has ever seen what an ideal gentleman should be like. He probably has a father who has been a failure in his life, or doesn’t respect his own wife or mother and will never respect his daughter because he knows what world he has created for her. A harasser lacks confidence in himself always, don’t give him the confidence that he can shake yours!