Blooper and the Pink Rubber Band

My hair grows really fast during Spring season. It’s the perfect season to go bald and watch my hair grow back from scratch, if it grows back at all.

Instead, this morning I found me a pink rubber band in the fridge, among the eggs [from DAWN bread]. I tied up my hair with it into an incredibly small tail of a newborn pony. Wouldn’t want pieces of my thinning hair falling all over the place during that important interview, you know.

Have you ever anticipated that moment in your life when the said rubber band you’ve never used before was actually destined for a higher purpose? I never did. I just liked the feel of tool summer breeze against my neck that was free of hair finally.

I arrive at the interview location. Take my camera equipment out with the same beautiful confidence as usual. It’s all set to record. I turn it on and see this flashing on the screen.

“NO MEMORY CARD”

I feel an icy chill run up my spine, and my blood freezes. I let out a nervous laugh pretending that I’m super excited. I smile at the ladies and the gentlemen in the room around me, and converse with their adorable baby, fixated on her struggle with language and innocence. My blood is frozen. The HD camera is useless. Suddenly I’m reaching for the rubber band and take it off in a gesture suggesting I’m really not used to keeping my hair tied. I smile at everyone like a guilty bitch but can’t even yelp. I die and experience an afterlife of a cat.

I unscrew the useless HD camera from the tripod and mount my phone on it. The pink rubber band keeps it in position perfectly. No one utters a word, not even a gasp. I’m gasping for breath and mutter some ‘it’s going to be alright’ song  by morons I used to go out with, and almost proposed to marry.

Two hours of recording almost, the deed is done and the phone dies just after the driver confirms he’s waiting to drop me home, outside.

I revert my attention to the co-narrators in a frail attempt to strike an intelligent conversation, and call it a day over a cup of coffee and cake. At the mention of the word Ophthalmologist, I find myself in a raging Taher Shah fever saying: “Oh so you’re an eye to eye doctor?” Everyone in the room is in fits and I’m shocked beyond belief on what’d come out of my mouth. I haven’t even seen or heard Pakistan’s latest YouTube sensation’s new song yet. God! What’s wrong with me?!

The interviewee has now fallen asleep on the seat, mouth open and drooling without a care in the world. What a lucky person. I take this as my cue and start to leave. “We love you,” they tell me. I find the car outside much to my relief.

Thank you, pink rubber band. You are my hero. Now that thing about going bald….if I only had that Mimosa plant..On a brighter note, can’t wait to meet the little scientists.

Copyright Fakhra Hassan 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Poem of the Day

Did It Ever Occur to You That Maybe You’re Falling in Love?

by Alish Hopper

We buried the problem.
We planted a tree over the problem.
We regretted our actions toward the problem.
We declined to comment on the problem.
We carved a memorial to the problem, dedicated it. Forgot our handkerchief.
We removed all “unnatural” ingredients, handcrafted a locally-grown tincture for the problem. But nobody bought it.
We freshly-laundered, bleached, deodorized the problem.
We built a wall around the problem, tagged it with pictures of children, birds in trees.
We renamed the problem, and denounced those who used the old name.
We wrote a law for the problem, but it died in committee.
We drove the problem out with loud noises from homemade 
instruments.
We marched, leafleted, sang hymns, linked arms with the problem, got dragged to jail, got spat on by the problem and let out.
We elected an official who Finally Gets the problem.
We raised an army to corral and question the problem. They went door to door but could never ID.
We made http://www.problem.com so You Can Find Out About the 
problem, and http://www.problem.org so You Can Help.
We created 1-800-Problem, so you could Report On the problem, and 1-900-Problem so you could Be the Only Daddy That Really Turns That problem On.
We drove the wheels offa that problem.
We rocked the shit out of that problem.
We amplified the problem, turned it on up, and blew it out.
We drank to forget the problem.
We inhaled the problem, exhaled the problem, crushed its ember under our shoe.
We put a title on the problem, took out all the articles, conjunctions, and verbs. Called it “Exprmntl Prblm.”
We shot the problem, and put it out of its misery.
We swallowed daily pills for the problem, followed a problem fast, drank problem tea.
We read daily problem horoscopes. Had our problem palms read by a seer.
We prayed.
Burned problem incense.
Formed a problem task force. Got a problem degree. Got on the problem tenure track. Got a problem retirement plan.
We gutted and renovated the problem. We joined the Neighborhood Problem Development Corp.
We listened and communicated with the problem, only to find out that it had gone for the day.
We mutually empowered the problem.
We kissed and stroked the problem, we fucked the problem all night. Woke up to an empty bed.
We watched carefully for the problem, but our flashlight died.
We had dreams of the problem. In which we could no longer 
recognize ourselves.
We reformed. We transformed. Turned over a new leaf. Turned a corner, found ourselves near a scent that somehow reminded us of the problem,
In ways we could never
Put into words. That
Little I-can’t-explain-it
That makes it hard to think. That
Rings like a siren inside.

I like to think of Harriet Tubman

I like to think of Harriet Tubman.
Harriet Tubman who carried a revolver,
who had a scar on her head from a rock thrown
by a slave-master (because she
talked back) , and who
had a ransom on her head
of thousands of dollars and who
was never caught, and who
had no use for the law
when the law was wrong,
who defied the law. I like
to think of her.
I like to think of her especially
when I think of the problem
of feeding children.

The legal answer
to the problem of feeding children
is ten free lunches every month,
being equal, in the child’s real life,
to eating lunch every other day.
Monday but not Tuesday.
I like to think of the President
eating lunch on Monday, but not
Tuesday.
and when I think of the President
and the law, and the problem of
feeding children, I like to
think of Harriet Tubman
and her revolver.

And then sometimes
I think of the President
and other men,
men who practice the law,
who revere the law,
who make the law,
who enforce the law
who live behind
and operate through
and feed themselves
at the expense of
starving children
because of the law.

men who sit in paneled offices
and think about vacations
and tell women
whose care it is
to feed children not to be hysterical
not to be hysterical as in the word
hysterikos, the greek for
womb suffering,
not to suffer in their
wombs,
not to care,
not to bother the men
because they want to think
of other things
and do not want
to take women seriously.

I want them to think about Harriet Tubman,
and remember,
remember she was beaten by a white man
and she lived
and she lived to redress her grievances,
and she lived in swamps
and wore the clothes of a man
bringing hundreds of fugitives from
slavery, and was never caught,
and led an army,
and won a battle,
and defied the laws
because the laws were wrong, I want men
to take us seriously.
I am tired wanting them to think
about right and wrong.
I want them to fear.
I want them to feel fear now.
I want them to know
that there is always a time
there is always a time to make right
what is wrong,
there is always a time
for retribution
and that time
is beginning.

-Susan Griffin-

Overworked, Overwired, Overtired? Then Disconnect by Kate Brunner

I would go for a walk on a quiet early morning or shut down the computer pretending it doesn’t exist, disable wi-fi and mobile network, and cover my eyes with mud mask [for five minutes].

Kate close up at Llyn MorwynionI have this belief that there used to be boundaries between work and home; between boss/employee and family. That there used to be space to take a deep breath and let go for a minute. That most jobs did not require one to be on-call nonstop. Perhaps this perception is erroneous. Perhaps it’s a notion I picked up from thirty to fifty year old sitcoms. Perhaps childhood memories aren’t as sharp as they use to be and I was just too young to be aware of any work-related activities intruding on my parents’ family time. But it is still there- this notion in my head that “back in the day” the work day actually ended; that we could put down our tools and go home to rest for a bit before returning to the assorted tasks at hand.

As a young Army lieutenant, my peers and I joked that mobile…

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Is #rapeculture winning?

Few weeks ago, I was at a friend’s place with acquaintances, listening to them talk about measures to ensure accountability against sexual harassers and perpetrators of sexual violence and sexism in left public places.
For some reason, my heart sank at their enthusiasm because I didn’t find any ambition or hope for introducing such measures when looking back at the years that have gone by.

The sinking feeling returned with full force days after that discussion when one of Jyoti Singh’s rapists and murderers was released by the High Court under India’s newly introduced Juvenile Justice Bill. Jyoti’s parents’ heart-wrenching response to it:

I died the day my daughter died,” her mother Asha Devi declares, disconsolate and in tears. It is hard for most of us to even imagine her pain and loss. “If I am alive today, it is only in order to secure justice for my daughter. But when the boy who raped her so brutally walks free after just three years, I feel I have failed our daughter.” Her husband Badri Singh agrees. “We are small people,” he retorts. “We can never get justice. Crime has won and we have lost.

Jyoti Singh was a 23-year old physiotherapy intern in Delhi who was brutally gang raped and murdered in a public bus in December 2012. It happened in a public bus and no one around had the courage to stop it, to beat the crap out of those fuckers, to cut off their limbs and penises. No one bothered. Everyone watched.  And now, one haraami walks free.

I had high hopes from you India, I had very high hopes from you.

That is not all. All of Mukhtaran Mai’s gang rapists were released by the Supreme Court in March last year, bringing an end to her decade-old struggle for justice. Mukhtaran Mai, now 40, runs a women’s welfare organization in Multan. She was gang raped and stripped in public by her rapists in June 2002. Nowadays, she is battling with ailment in a hospital in Multan.

During the same month last year, Amna, a student of medicine, set herself on fire in front of a hospital at Muzaffargarh after the police released her gang rapists on bail, only days after their arrest; she died of 3rd degree burns in Multan.

Two years ago, I was threatened with a lawsuit for naming certain international organizations harboring rapists and sexual offenders in Pakistan at an international feminist publication. The result: I gave up and lost, and quite frankly, I don’t know why I haven’t set myself on fire yet or shot myself yet.

Few days ago, a friend called me up for advice on what to do about a certain young woman who’s experiencing sexual harassment from her boss. I ended up telling my friend that this certain woman must be crazy or deluded because sexual offenders in positions of power are immune from any kind of accountability and she should’ve known better than to allow him that kind of access to her life.
I told my friend to tell her to grow up and figure things out herself or hire a bloodthirsty lawyer with the amount of good money she is making.

Having said that, I’m fairly convinced that we have graduated to the era of rape culture with flying colors. Rape culture has won. Rapists, sexual offenders and murderers are winning everywhere. What kind of system of accountability is going to stop them or correct them? More importantly, what kind of system can ensure the repair of irreversible damages? What’s gone is gone. It’s not coming back.

Partition is very real, as Dr Guneeta Singh says. Forced colonization and forced migrations are in full swing and they continue to ruin the lives of the fairer sex from the middle and lower middle classes. When there is no fairer sex left to uphold the system of accountability, rape culture wins.

I don’t know what good is coming out of campaigns like Girls at Dhabas in Pakistan and Why Loiter in India, with the exception that women now have something to rely on should they experience some kind of violation of their dignity and freedom in any space that they’re loitering in. That’s a good start.

Suggestion to young women experiencing harassment in a public place, take a picture, record the moments of sexual violence as and when they happen, and share on social media immediately.
The law and government will obviously not help you because like Sabeen Mahmud said, governments are stupid. Have faith in the good people who can not only help you but can also become a voice for you if you’ve been rendered speechless by all the traumas you’ve been through.

How things have progressed in just the past three years, I see no hope, only darkness all around, with my books and my cup of coffee and that sinking feeling in my heart anchored by a faint belief that miracles do happen and fortune smiles on the brave.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

Copyright Fakhra Hassan. All Rights Reserved.

Excuse me, your #sexism is showing

This is a serious post that has been sitting with me for quite some time. I’ve been thinking for the past few years about sexism everywhere, from home to work, to public places.

It was easier to deal with sexism at home, but like my private life, it is none of your business unless some prick is bugging you at home or in your private or work life.

Karte hain logon ki baat:

Having spent a great deal of time with left leaning, progressive, liberal men and wymen, I come across many salutations thrown at me like man, biologically deprived, dick, mister and then in the not-so-left leaning, conservative circles who address me with terms like paa ji or janaab or jatt or sir jee.
And then there is the blatantly classist, racist category of men and women who address me Bibi or Behan Ji or Aunty Ji or Motapa Maasi– lekin yeh categories qabil-e-muaafi hain because quite frankly, I am not sweet sixteen and to this mal-nutritioned, bulimic South Asian society, I appear to be horrendously fat like a woman who is either pregnant or mother of ten 10-pound infants, woh acceptable hai beta/beti, koi baat nahi.

I need to ask this question to the left-leaning, pseudo-intellectual liberals, what’s wrong with addressing someone with their name? What’s wrong with Fakhra? Why do people suffer from this toxic disease of genderizing anything that doesn’t fit their idea of norm? Too much of that harami Freud? Ya phir Fanon wali cognitive dissonance hai jis ko admit karne mein maut a jati hai aap logon ko.
What pleasure is there to derive in screwing with someone’s head like that? I really want to know. No wait. Please carry on. In fact, why don’t you just straightforwardly ask me to take my pants and shirt off, and probe my genitals, to check if I really am a man [with or without a dick], and really telling the truth about being raped and really bear evidence of corrective genderization?

That’s what you people are trying to do, no? Ready for another lesson, Fakhra? Let’s know about who you have feelings for and cage them for ourselves, how dare you have feelings for someone, Fakhra? You’re destined to stay loveless all your life and bow before us, Fakhra. How dare you fall in love, Fakhra, when you don’t have the privilege to? Gutter mein jaye tum sab ki gender wali PhDs, world-renowned statuses aur your feminisms.

I’m sorry to say this to anyone reading this (I don’t mean the 54 subscribers of this blog, not you, you are absolutely fantastic), I’ve had this frustration bottled up for over seven years! And enough is enough!

Shame on everyone ridiculing people like me with these gendered salutations, body shaming names, tactics, sexual and emotional abuse. Baghal mein churi, munh mein Ram, Ram teh Allah, Allah, may Wahe Guru instill some shame in you.

And to the left-leaning, liberal artiste category: Stop fucking publishing my pictures in the papers, without my consent! I’ll sue you!

Genderizing and objectifying a person is the worst form of sexism, people. It is showing like a voluptuous woman’s cleavage from a badly stitched dress by some beghairat tailor.

To associate female strength with male strength, wah wah, yeh sexism nahi hai to kya hai? Man hogi teri maan!

I’m a shareef insaan. I have character. I’m going to adhere to my sharafat and not name-shame anyone on this blog because some of them have tried to shut my mouth with money jobs and happy things like I’m a 2-year old toddler bound to bliss with the lure of the candy. Some of them think sugar-coated words will do the trick. Go fucking koochy-koo someone else, you bloody perverts! Sorry to disappoint, meri dunya paisay ki ghulam nahi hai or na hi sexual favors ki or na hi jhooti taareefon ki but sadly this is what you people have reduced me to.
Praise be to God for the love I have in my life now, I’m fighting to reclaim my real self aur khuda ke wastay mujhe ya to muaaf kar do ya maar do mujhe bhi because know this: You cannot force me to be who I’m not, try and there will be consequences because Khuda ki laathi be awaz hoti hai. 

And to the men/wymen/boys thrown off by my biological depravity, fatness, ugliness and zero marital status: your dick is showing. Shove it and then zip it tight, you bastards!!

This is a very gentle reminder to check your privilege before you open your mouth and carelessly violate someone’s sense of self-worth. Sharafat isi mein hai keh aap apni sharafat per qaaim rahain aur mera peecha chor dain aur na hi koi umeed rakhain mujh seMein aap logon ko ab baddua tak nahi de sakti.

Mujhe ummeed hai sharafat ka najaiz faida nahi uthao ge agar auraton wali sharam baaqi hai aap logon mein.

Shukirya!! 

Sincerely,

Fakhra

Copyright Fakhra Hassan. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thank You, Lorde

To encourage excellence is to go beyond the encouraged mediocracy of our society… but giving into fear of feeling and working in capacity is a luxury only the unintentional can afford and the unintentional are those who don’t wish to guide their own destinies.
There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling.

For the erotic is not a question only of what we Do; it’s a question of how acutely & fully we can Feel in the doing.

…The principal horror of any system which defines the good in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, or which defines human need to the exclusion of the psychic and emotional components of that need – the principal horror of such a system is that it robs our work of its erotic value, its erotic power and life appeal and fulfillment. Such a system reduces work to a travesty of necessities, a duty by which we earn bread or oblivion for ourselves and those we love. This is tantamount to blinding a painter and then telling her to improve her work, to enjoy the act of painting. It is not only next to impossible but profoundly cruel.
For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives. And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe.

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. I choose not to live outside of myself and let external directives limit my life. I live from within myself (intuition-internal knowledge & needs) outward, in touch with the power of the erotic within myself and I allow that power to inform and illuminate my actions upon the world around me. I am responsible to myself In the Deepest Sense. As we begin to recognize our deepest feeling we begin to give up the necessity to be satisfied with suffering, to be satisfied with self-abnegation and with self-negation, and with the numbness that seems like the only alternative in this society. We begin to empower ourselves to action.    

-Audre Lorde