This couldn't be truer for an author who loves his job. Andy is the author of a fantasy series The Last Bucelarii. He has published two books in the series already - Blade of the Destroyer;
To introduce Andy, in his own words, "I am an artist – words are my palette."
This couldn't be truer for an author who loves his job. Andy is the author of a fantasy series The Last Bucelarii. He has published two books in the series already - Blade of the Destroyer;
His debut novel In the Days: A Tale of the Forgotten Continent is about the empire of Atlantis, in the days when it ceased to be.
If there is one movie you’ll watch this month, make it Disney’s Zootopia.
It was released in theaters on March 4, 2016. That was yesterday. We don’t usually catch movies on opening night so it was only chance that we did this one and what a treat it was!
Zootopia starts off as a story of a small-town bunny, Judy Hopps, dreaming to succeed and make a difference in the big, bad town. It was a fun ride and I was convinced that we’ll be handed a sweet message of how we should never take anyone for granted when the cute little bunny hops over all hurdles and triumphs and then everyone will know that ‘you can be anything you want’. But it was more than just that. It was that particular moment – that one press conference scene – when I, as a member of the Muslim American community, sitting in a theater in a Tennessee suburb few days after Super Tuesday, couldn’t believe that I was watching something so apt and relevant to the current environment of fear and politics of hate in the country.
It was in that moment that I realized that Zootopia was about me.
Disney was talking about me and the prejudices I faced and my fears and the way I felt! And I’m sure that every member of any minority under fire at the hands of presidential candidates like Donald Trump and the mindset he appeases felt exactly the way I did, sitting there and watching Disney beautifully tell it how it is.
The theater was dead silent and I couldn’t help wonder if everyone else there, those who weren’t like me, the majority that the movie talked about, got that message too. Did they see what the targeted minorities were feeling at this point in time in the country? The politics of fear and hate and bigotry – did they understand how wrong it all was that was happening around us?
I’d love to believe that Zootopia is anti-Trump, only movies aren’t made in a day and the first trailer of the flick surfaced while we were still laughing at the mere idea of a Trump Presidency; something that currently doesn’t seem so far from becoming a possibility. So, no, Zootopia is not anti-Trump. It is, however, anti-hate, anti-fear, anti-bigotry, anti-bullying, anti-persecution, anti-tyranny, anti-war; it is anti everything that’s subhuman and uncivil.
Zootopia is pro-dialogue, pro-awareness, pro-education, pro-diversity, pro-tolerance, pro-freedom, pro-unity, pro-humanity, pro-peace, and pro anything that makes our world a better place to live in.
The movie has a PG rating. But if your child is old enough to sit by you and watch the news, take her/him to watch this movie. It will make a good difference in their life. I’ll be hailing this movie left, right and center.
Disney has, once again, won our hearts!
Ibtihaj Muhammad made headlines last week when she clenched a spot to represent Team USA as a sabre fencer for Olympics 2016.
No big deal. Many other sportspersons would’ve made it to the US Olympic team or other teams in other sports but we didn’t hail everyone so why Ibtihaj? Well, because Ibtihaj is not only a 30-year-old Maplewood, New Jersey native; she is the first Muslim woman to compete for United States in international sports. And she wears her hijab like a crown. Ibtihaj’s success was hailed even by President Obama as he gave her a shout-out on his visit to the Baltimore mosque last Wednesday when he told her to ‘bring home the Gold!’
Ibtihaj’s story is yet another stone breaching the stereotypes claiming that hijab equals oppression.
In the recent past, many other women have come forward, proud to be Muslims and proud to wear the religious head covering: Amna Al-Haddad (weightlifter, UAE), Stephanie Kurlow (ballerina, Australian), Noor Tagouri (journalist, USA), Zahra Lari (figure skater, UAE), Muna Abu-Sulayman (MBC social program host and media personality), Linda Sarsour (racial justice and civil rights activist, USA), Dalia Mogahed (renowned scholar, USA), Mariah Idrissi (model, H&M fame), Yasmin Kanar (YouTuber and fashion guru), Ayesha Farooq (fighter pilot, Pakistan), Asma Shirazi (anchorperson and journalist, Pakistan) – to name a few.
These women, and any like them, are rebels. Their hijab doesn’t oppress them; it emboldens them. They are breaking barriers by taking up professions nobody thought were suitable for a woman in a hijab because they truly believe that nothing is impossible. They shatter the stereotype of the shy burka-clad woman who is silenced into oppression. They pursue their careers with bold stances that show the world that it’s not their hijab that’s clipping their wings but rather a world that suggests a woman who dares to choose how she should dress herself has little to no place in a world that wants to control what a woman should wear.
The conservative East is obsessed with forcing women into yards and yards of fabric without respecting her very being and sells that as modesty – as if that’s a trait important for only a woman to have. The liberal West, on the contrary, prefers to strip off the clothes and calls it freedom – as long as the woman chooses not to cover, she is dubbed free but should she dare to add layers to her clothing, she is demonized for giving into the culture of the ‘oppressed’.
I’m sorry but seems to me that a burka and a bikini could well be two sides of the same patriarchal coin designed to be flipped just to see how to control a woman best according to what the circumstances call for.
This fight, I wouldn’t even pick with the religious lot as they don’t boast to be champions of feminism. This is a question the feminists and the liberals need to ponder over. If they believe in giving women their rights and making sure that they are in charge of their own lives and that they should be free to make choices for themselves and all that blah, why is it that they simply forget it all when a woman chooses to don a hijab? It is a small scarf that covers the head – her head. What’s so scary about it that we throw away all freedom of expression and choice out the window and deem it necessary to school her in how she’s being oppressed?
A hijabi woman’s choice to wear her hijab is belittled with ‘childhood indoctrination’ as an excuse to insult her intelligence. Let’s be clear. A little girl dressed in a hijab is only as free or oppressed as a little girl dressed in shorts. Both are suffering from childhood indoctrination, if you will, because in both cases it’s not really them but their parents making this dress selection for them according to what they think is right and acceptable.
The notion that the hijab represents oppression is not untrue. Yes, it does in most cases. But then so does a bikini and a scooped neckline and revealing outfits if you’re okay with women showing skin only when it’s appealing and easy on the eyes but gross out or feel uncomfortable to see a mother breastfeeding in public because somehow suddenly that is what’s obscene…? I mean really, out of the two scenarios, there’s only one that doesn’t objectify the woman in any way and it’s not the former.
Another criticism I’ve heard of hijabi women breaking the traditional mold, which comes from the conservative Muslim corner, is that it’s not really ‘hijab’ if you’re just covering your head but not really being modest in your demeanor. And that the hijab is not a choice but a commandment, hence, must be obeyed.
I was guilty of judging Mariah Idrissi, the H&M model, with this same that’s-not-really-hijab mindset. I simply couldn’t understand all the hype about the ‘hijab’ in a place where people appreciate you for your looks and clothes and evaluate you for how attractive you appear – totally defeats the purpose of the ‘hijab’ which literally means modesty. But looking at that ad, you can’t deny that she is the only one that represents Muslim women in that 5-minute clip celebrating diversity of people. Besides, she is dressed modestly, fully clothed and looking utterly chic. Like a friend of mine pointed out, it’s not Mariah’s fault if she looks hawt even in a hijab; you can’t hate her for being beautiful.
Point is, these women aren’t desecrating the hijab. In fact, they understand the implication completely and they are proud of it, which is why they are choosing to wear it. Truth is when you look at a group of women, the one with the hijab is the one saying I’m a Muslimah, regardless of how many other Muslim women there are in that same group. She is the only one identifying herself as that, the one deciding to stand out and be unique and embrace everything about herself, and that is a brave thing to do.
As for the commandment versus choice part – the choice comes from following it or not following it, and I’m guessing the one to judge should be the One who revealed the commandment in the first place. Furthermore, this isn’t the only commandment meant to be obeyed by those who believe so let’s not hate our women for sinning differently than our men.
Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric is gaining traction with the Republican base and he is soaring in the polls at 41%. That’s all fine. One must be free to hate on anyone one wants. If ISIS can do it, so can the GOP.
However, I do have a few things that unnerve me.
The wafer thin knowledge base of the average GOP voter – or an average Islamophobe for that matter – regarding their Enemy #1, the followers of Islam, is quite humiliating. I mean, seriously. After more than a decade of obsessing over Islam you’d expect the haters to know exactly what the religion is about and how they should project themselves to appear superior and all that shit. Too bad, they’re failing miserably. If you’re a supporter, you have my pity and here’s why:
Sharia Law is coming
Er…no, it’s not. Honestly, ask the Taliban. They’ve been fighting to impose Sharia in Pakistan since forever and still aren’t successful so if you ever thought it was that easily done, you might want to have a heart to heart with them. Cry a little over their trials, too. On a more serious note, Sharia actually requires Muslims to abide by the law of the land, the constitution of the country the Muslims reside in whether the constitution is Islamic or otherwise. Moreover, Sharia Law is not synonymous with ISIS Law. If it was, no army in the world would be able to stop 1.6 billion Muslims, roughly 23% of world population, if they ever decided to act like ISIS. But they don’t and won’t because they know Islam and they know Sharia and they know it has nothing to do with terrorists who claim to follow it. About time you understood that, too.
Ban the hijab
Snatching a hijab off a Muslima’s head drives one clear message home: you are the non-Muslim equivalent of Taliban. They force women into hijabs, you force them out. Neither of you respect women or see them as an equal human being or a human being at all. See a pattern here? The ideology of force, coercion and overall lack of respect for human dignity sound familiar? And if you’re of the opinion that since the Muslim countries (about like 3.5 out of 50) force foreigners into hijabs and/or burqa by law while visiting, hence, you should force Muslims into bikinis as this is your land – you might want to take a look at your own constitution, and then, at your history. Muslim countries don’t boast to be secular, don’t boast to give religious freedom to all. You do. Unfortunately for you. So, either amend the first amendment or your unconstitutional attitude.
Bomb (insert country) at will
If you decide to hate a country and/or believe a country should be wiped off the face of the planet, we’d expect you to know where it is on the planet. In a recent survey of 532 republican primary voters, 30% wanted to bomb Agrabah – as in the fictional country from 1992 Disney classic, Aladdin. I’m guessing the bombing will commence as soon as GOP can locate Agrabah on the actual world map. After that, I suppose, they’ll wage war against Baklava. Not to mention that Ben Carson already thinks that Humus is evil and must be eradicated. I’m guessing the showdown between Trump and Jaffar would be awesome. I’m rooting for Jaffar, of course, because Disney.
Not all Muslims live in the Middle East
Pakistan is NOT in the Middle East (for the gazillionth time) so do not expect us to even listen to conversations beginning with ‘If you understand Arabic’. Now, if you were to say Urdu, Hindi, Sanskrit or even Persian, many of us would rise to the occasion (God bless South Asia, Iqbal’s poetry and Bollywood). Also, Iran and Afghanistan are not part of the Arab world. They have more in common with Alex the Great Greek Guy and Genghis Khan rather than Muhammad Bin Qasim, and no, for the love of Christ, this Muhammad is not The Prophet Muhammad.
Ignorance will lead to idiocy
While every word falling out of an Arab’s mouth may sound like a Quranic verse, rest assured it is not. Therefore, if one is flinging insults at you, they’re less likely to be in the name of Allah and more in the name of O ye ignorant American.
Terrorism doesn’t fight terrorism
Lashing out at Muslims in general does not help fight against terrorism. The Quran burnings, mosque burnings, vandalism and Let’s Draw Muhammad days do not help either. This merely confirms that when the going gets tough, mass hysteria prevails regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, intelligence, age, economic status and address. If your reaction is ‘oh but we’re unhappy about Islamists killing our people so let’s bomb/ban them all’ then you have made ISIS proud. That’s what they say to recruit all the victims of wars that the West has waged against the Middle East and other nations, destroying entire economies. Congratulations. You and Daesh should be best buds. Here’s a burqa and a turban for your wardrobe.
Immigrants built USA
We immeegraannts do not drop by all willy-nilly to chow down the country’s GDP for free. We work very hard to build our lives here. We pay our taxes to build this country. And in case it still needs to be said, everyone knows about the Native Americans a.k.a. not the European colonists. So please, get over ‘them foreigners, us locals’ frenzy. And speaking of Muslims, we are one of the richest, most educated and most diverse demographic in the States. Also, many of the slaves that the white idiots brought to USA were Muslims who were then forcibly converted to serve their masters’ intolerance. So, in case you were still wondering, we are all here in your country because you were all there in our countries. Capiche?
Terrorists seriously need to rethink terrorism
Even we don’t understand why the Islamic radicals insist upon using underwear and kitchen utensils to terrorize public when clearly the NRA is exceedingly in favor of guns. No doubt, they’re catching up on the gun-love but still.
Islamophobes also need to rethink terrorism
A mop sink, a calligraphy session, a hijab is no reason to cause alarm – seriously. (Looking at you Tennessee, Virginia and the rest of your clan). If prayer beads and prayer mats get you into a hissy fit then please, you need an education, in Lal Masjid, to see what terrorists really treasure. Also, leaving severed pig heads at a mosque or writing ‘Jesus’ as a means to ward off the evil of Islam is just not gonna work. One, we revere Jesus as a prophet and if anything, the mosques should help with the graffiti by writing out verses from the Quran glorifying the immaculate birth and Virgin Mary so that’s that. And two, Allah didn’t really discriminate where he’d put pigs on earth when he created them. We got plenty in the Muslim world as well, all puns intended.
We have a saying in Urdu: naqal ke liayay bhi aqal chahiyay (it still takes brains to copy someone). If you want to outbad ISIS and be the ultimate evil genius by terrorizing innocents on religious and ethnic grounds, you’d still have to incorporate the ‘genius’ part in your evilness. And be original.
Right now, you’re not impressing anyone.
PS: This piece first appeared in The Nation
I don’t always read Orya Maqbool Jaan. But when I do, I do it with a boxful of stress balls.
It’s not that what he says is utter rubbish. It is the way he connects the dots from perhaps one viable argument to another that makes the entire argument incomprehensible. Like what he’s done in his article by blaming all the evils of society on shampoos and body lotions.
According to Mr. Orya, and I quote:
“The woman who decides to cover her face and body challenges this thriving industry and is, therefore, targeted by the capitalists who are the operators of this whole business…This business begins with beauty products and continues to flourish in the form of fashion industry, media, advertising, dress designing, vulgar movies and the global mafia of prostitution.”
According to him, a woman in a hijab is being victimized by liberals because they want to sell shampoo. Quite right. If every woman wore a hijab, the sales for shampoo would devastatingly plummet because hijabi women don’t shampoo. They have a bird’s nest for hair. All tousled and unbrushed and unwashed and full of lice underneath that fine silky religious garb.
It makes perfect sense too because why would a hijabi woman shampoo her hair? To what purpose? It’s not like she has a man in her pure life she’d like to sexually entice. (Husband? Who that?). And, perchance, if she ever was lucky enough to get one, it’s not like he’d ever be allowed to run his fingers through his wife’s hair. I mean that’s why she wears a hijab all the time – all the times that she’s in front of men who’re not married to her so obviously she must wear it in the privacy of her home as well, right? Same goes for hair color and good clothes and smooth skin and healthy figures and everything from her nail color to hairclips.
Besides, a woman, hijabi or not, isn’t human enough to appreciate silky, smooth, luscious hair on her own head, to marvel at her own pretty reflection in the mirror, to feel the hug of a smartly tailored outfit. In short, a woman isn’t allowed to feel sexy unless she’s commanded to by a man, and that too must only be for him whether she likes it or not. Her opinion is of no regard whatsoever.
After all, women have neither any use nor can have any appreciation for their own bodies. They have no right to their own body. They have no right to look beautiful, feel beautiful just for themselves. It’s always, always, for the men whether they are relevant to the woman’s life or not. Because of course, a woman’s beauty is only relevant when a man can see, use and appreciate it.
These rules never apply to men, however. These beauty products don’t apply to men either because men do not shampoo, bathe, use soap or cologne, dress smartly or brush their teeth to look, smell, feel nice. Male models are also always very modest and utterly non-sexy, almost burqa-clad, so as to not entice female viewers. In fact, whoever thought that women are entice-able or capable of having any feelings that way like real human beings was totally out of his mind.
You see, it’s quite clear.
Next time you’re looking for who to blame in a rape case, just barge into your bathroom, hold that bottle of Pantene (or what have you, they’re all the same) choke it by the neck (it has one) and growl, “You vile, evil, villain!” and toss it into the trash can. Justice served.
You must appreciate Orya’s genius.
Watching an ad of Fair & Lovely on TV will lead a man to rape his next door neighbor’s daughter. And if the next door neighbor has no daughter then his son will do, too.
After all, it were the ads, the beauty products, the nice clothes, the vulgar movies that encouraged an Imam – an Imam – to rape and kill a five year old boy in his mosque. How enticing and exactly in what way, would Orya Maqbool like to elaborate, was that little boy to suffer what he did? Which ad would you deem responsible for his rape and murder and for the rapes and murders of hundreds of children like him who haven’t even stepped into adulthood to even have the bodies that can lure? Or was it one of Mussarat Shaheen’s meaty thumkas (which are never aired on TV by the way) that had the offender brimming with testosterone that he offloaded on his little victim?
While our brothers in faith and humanity in Turkey are fighting for women’s rights to dress as they want and still be safe, Orya Jaan is blaming shampoo ads for rape. A shampoo? Really? A model who looked good on TV is responsible for the sick and twisted acts of sexual abuse forced upon an innocent girl in a village, in college, in her own house? Why is it that we never blame the mindset of the rapist/aggressor/perpetrator? Why is the blame not placed where it belongs?
The fact that a person has the capacity to do the right thing, to not go watch a vulgar movie, to not share a rape video, to take responsibility for his own actions has no place in the societal setup that people like Orya Maqbool Jaan struggle to uphold.
Please, just stop! Stop blaming violence against women and children on women and children.
There’s only one reason for violence and abuse of any kind: the offender.
Festivals are an integral part of any culture because they give a valuable insight into a nation’s history and temperament. Pakistan’s sensitivity to the contemporary world, coupled with her rich Islamic heritage and ideology, has lent a unique flavor to both her cultural and religious celebrations. As part of our socio-economic structure, we use two calendar systems simultaneously: Gregorian or Christian (January – December) for civic purposes and Islamic (Muharram – Zilhaj) for religious reasons.
Since the majority of Pakistanis are Muslims, the Islamic New Year is celebrated with far more zeal than its Christian counterpart. Nationwide celebrations for the eve of December 31 are usually subject to government policies: if it’s liberal the big cities get a fireworks display on a favorite public spot, otherwise January is greeted gracefully in the privacy of homes and chapels. In truth, New Year’s Eve is a celebrated night for Christians, of course, and for young or westernized Muslims. The rest of the country contently marks its calendar to keep in step with the world and to wish each other a very ‘happy new year’ the next morning.
For all my years of education in a Karachi convent school, in spite of being a Muslim, a Christian New Year always translated into celebrating many important events in my life: promotion to a new grade, fifteen days of winter vacation, an annual school party and a Christmas musical, plus a million greeting cards that I hand-crafted and sent out to everybody.
As years went by and I graduated from school to step into a local college, these festivities shriveled from small private dinners in pricey restaurants to very small gatherings at the beach, all breaking up well before midnight. Five more years down the road and the only respect January got from me were quick calls and free e-greetings to a handful of close friends, and a one day shopping spree for my own birthday falling in mid-month.
Muharram, on the contrary, always received incessant attention.
So, what exactly is this “Islamic New Year” that an entire nation greets so fondly? Let me give you a brief background.
Hazrat Omer-ibn-Khatab, the second caliph succeeding Prophet Muhammad (May peace be upon him) some 13 years after the migration of Muslims from Mecca to Medina, modified the Arabian lunar calendar to serve as a standardized tool for Islamic date calculation during the fourth year of his government (638 AD). Since then, the Muslims have used that Islamic or Hijrah calendar as their own.
The Hijrah year is divided into twelve months, each of twenty-nine or thirty days determined by lunar movements, and it is 11 days shorter than the solar Christian year (354 days and 365 days respectively). The year of migration or Hijrat of the Prophet and his followers from Mecca to Medina (622 AD) is counted as the first Islamic year – hence the term Hijrah calendar. The dates are followed by words Al-Hijrah (AH) and Muharram is the first month.
Over the years, much history was recorded to give our months the meaning and character we celebrate today. Muharram, according to both Arabian and Islamic history, was always a month of peace and prayer. However, in 61 AH (680 AD), 44 years after the inception of the Islamic calendar, one remarkable event defined Muharram as also the month of remembrance and repentance.
In 60 AH, Yazid-ibn-Muawiya succeeded his father Amir Muawiya as the second caliph of the first Islamic empire, the Umayyad Dynasty (661–750 AD). Upon accession, Yazid sought allegiance from all his subjects to validate his rule on Islamic basis. Since he did not fit the Divine description of a Muslim caliph, Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet, and his followers refused to accept Yazid as head of an Islamic state.
Unfortunately for Yazid, the Imam was an emblem of Islamic principles and his allegiance to a caliph meant Islamic endorsement of that administration. Hence, the rejection came as a huge blow to Yazid’s caliphate and he decided to counter it.
He got his chance when the Imam was leading his family and friends from Medina to the Iraqi town of Kufa to honor an invitation from the townspeople to discuss their grievances with Yazid. On their way, they decided to camp on the land of Karbala near river Euphrates, unaware of the lurking menace in the form of Yazid’s powerful army surrounding the campground.
The army surprised the travelers and put their camp under siege. It cut off their water supply from the river and held its post until the captives’ food and energy ran out. Once again, the Imam and his supporters were asked to obey Yazid but the besieged, guided by religion and fearless in the face of danger before them, refused to surrender.
Hence, forced into battle by an army of some 4500 soldiers, all 72 men of the Imam’s camp including him and his infant son were killed on Muharram 10, 61 AH.
This tragedy went down in history as the legendary Battle of Karbala that ended within the first ten days of Muharram, from the day the Imam left Medina to the day he was martyred in Karbala along with his peers.
In Pakistan, Muslims dedicate themselves to worship for these ten days to commemorate the Imam’s sacrifice for upholding justice. The tenth day of Muharram, Ashura or Yom-e-Ashur, is the climax of the entire event and while many Muslims continue to worship intensely for the remainder of the month, most of us resume normal life after Ashura.
Islam defines worship both as a way of celebration and mourning, which is why prayer forms an integral part of all our events. Muharram is a month of great charity and religious activity throughout the country, most of which also reflects our colorful culture.
The first sign of Muharram is the beautiful tradition of Sabeel: terracotta pitchers, filled with cold water or sherbet, are set outside houses for passersby to drink from freely. Private and public ceremonies of Durs, Majlis and Niyaz, in which tribute is paid by way of sermons, elegies and fine food to the Holy Prophet and the martyrs of Karbala, are inspiring examples of spiritual enrichment and charity throughout Muharram.
The more affluent people revere Muharram by not only praying and fasting but also by enjoying fine cuisine and wearing nice clothes, and by giving away the same in charity to seek forgiveness and prosperity in the future.
Another delicious custom of our new year is Haleem or Kichra, a savory concoction that the women of Imam Hussain’s camp cooked for their family’s last meal. It is a mixture of meat and grains that is cooked on low heat until all the ingredients blend together to form a thick paste. And just before it is served hot with Naan, traditional Pakistani bread, we garnish it with chopped ginger, green chilies, fresh coriander leaves and fried onions with lemon slices on the side. Although, our version of Haleem is much richer than the original recipe in terms of flavor and ingredients, we prepare it as a tribute to the female victims of Karbala.
Finally, on Ashura, the Shia Muslims, dressed in black for mourning, take out huge processions in memory of the Battle. A colorful feature of these processions is a heavily adorned white stallion representing Imam Hussain’s horse, the Zuljana. They also hold a variety of placards and cardboard structures representing mausoleums of some of the Karbala martyrs. Often times, a procession is led by a single person holding a black flag in memory of Hazrat Abbas, stepbrother of the Imam and flag bearer for his camp.
More than 1300 years have passed since the tragedy of Karbala but its message of peace and righteousness is still fresh in our minds.
Author’s Note: Growing up, I believed that Muharram-ul-Haraam was synonymous with Zikr-e-Hussain, and I wrote this piece a long time ago while I was still that naïve. A lot has changed since then, or I’m told. However, for me and my family, Muharram will always be the month that kicks off the Islamic New Year by reminding us of the daring stance of Imam Hussain and his 71 brave men against a tyrant.
We might be some of these or all these but we are never none of these. We are Moms. We are flexible that way. See which ones you can recognize:
The Pinterest Mom
She is full of ideas and throws birthday bashes where kids are exposed to 101 crafts and then they come home and expect the same from you. This doesn’t end here. You go over to hers for a simple dinner and you see a driveway lined with illuminated mason jars and glow-in-the-dark paint, cloth napkins twisted into swans, place settings, homemade coasters, dish tags and potpourri. Who does that?! And of course, every event has to go up on Pinterest. And you’ll be tagged on Facebook. Go die.
The Chill Pill Mom
She lives in a perpetual zen state. If you’re looking for a way to detoxify yourself, talk to her. Her carefree and ‘live and let live’ manner will have you smiling and breathing again in no time. Except when her kid falls off a slide and she takes like 2.3 years to reach him, you consider dashing off to this next mom on our list.
The Worrier Mom
The world is coming to an end. And she’s the only one who is prepared. She’ll have all the facts and figures to support her theories on the thousand ways your child can fall sick by licking the lollypop the wrong way, the two-second rule for food dropped on the floor is actually a death trap, soda is poison, tap water is toxic, air is toxic, and why all of this is your fault. She has charted out five calendar systems to be ready for anything – one solar, one lunar, one Martian and two Mayans. (She knows they were onto something.)
The Warrior Mom
You look at her kid the wrong way and you die. It’s as simple as that. Everyone fears her kid because she’s the bully they don’t want to be wedged up against. She may be petite or hulk-sized, her resolve to protect her spawn is as strong as the Himalayas. You don’t ever want to get on her bad side because if she doesn’t punch you square on the kisser, she’ll kill you with diarrhea via her special cake recipe that she made just for you.
The Fashionista Mom
She’s unreal but we all want to be like her. She’s a star that Bollywood forgot to cast. Her clothes are the latest trend in fashion, hair glossy and full, nails impeccable, makeup done, and her sugar sweet smile may give you diabetes. It’s like she has this checklist that she checks off every morning before/during/after the school/grocery-store/office run…and she runs in them 9 inch heels too!
The Sloppy Mom
She’s the polar opposite of the Fashionista Mom. This one couldn’t care less that her jeans are faded and barely fit, shoes are begging to be replaced and hair/face/personality desperately need a makeover. She’ll be the one pushing one kid inside the school gate with another one on her arm slathering a chocolate covered cookie all over his face and hers.
The Busybody Mom
She’s in a hurry, under the gun, extremely stressed out and you are in her way. Get out before she bulldozes you (unintentionally of course) while she pushes and rushes her kids to school to dance class to game practice to actual competition to extra math lessons to home to dinner to bath to bed (snacking all the way in between). Whew! What a day! Oh yes, you had called her for…?
The PTA Mom
She lives in the school. She’s trying to make up for all the things she did wrong in first grade via her kid. There’s no meeting, morning coffee, parent party and school event that she isn’t seen at. The teachers probably remember her name more than they do of the kids in their class and the same goes for the other parents who are frequently dished out emails from her on behalf of the class. If you forgot to get that glue for that project, tell her and you’ll be covered. Bless this Mom. She made your life easier in school.
The Mother Earth
If it’s not organic, its death. Don’t ask her to make treats for that party you want to throw for all the kids. The kids will hate you for life. I mean please, nobody wants to eat granola bars infused with spinach and turmeric. Also, don’t you dare gloat over that glossy new synthetic fabric you just bought or that new lipstick you just tried – they have chemicals. They will kill you! And if your house is not mopped with just water, dishes washed with just water, laundry done in just water, meals cooked in fat straight from the cow, don’t bother inviting her. Or you can allow her to bring her own food. Don’t worry, the smell will go away in a decade or two.
The Feeder Mom
This one will feed you to obesity. Stay away from her if you can help it but you can’t. She smells like cookie dough. Her house smells like cookie dough. So does her car, and her kids look like glazed donuts. She’s the heart of all potlucks, her dinners are a dream out of a cook book and you’d rather die than miss any of her parties. She’s the totka queen, too. Your shirt won’t shine super white? She would know how. You’re losing hair? She would know why and how to cure that. Just don’t ask her if you’re not going to implement it or else there will be blood. And she’ll know exactly how to cook your corpse, too.
The BFF Mom
Her kids don’t need friends. They have her. And no you may not tell her they need to branch out or that she’s embarrassing them and those songs she sings and the clothes she wears and the fads she follows are a bit too young for her age – by some 200 decades or so. Also, being fun isn’t a priority for good parents. If you’re the BFF then who is parenting them?
The Preacher Mom
You’re doing it wrong. Yeah, whatever you’re doing is wrong. There’s only one way of doing anything right and that’s the way the Preacher Mom does it. You do not use that brand of diapers, not that brand of food, in fact, omg! You use readymade food? And you don’t breastfeed? Also, that clothes detergent isn’t right, nor the way you patch up your child’s wound. You pamper your kids too much, and now you’re disciplining the wrong way. And don’t even get her started on your belief system…!
The Perfectionist Mom
She’s graduated from the Finishing School Of Plastic Beauties with honors. She was the crown jewel of the Stepford Wives Colony before she went on to head the Board of Immaculate Mothers. She never talks above a set pitch, never sits with legs uncrossed, always has hands neatly folded in her lap, always wears a chignon, has perfectly ironed and tailored clothes on, catwalks only when she walks, avoids discussions without pride or prejudice and always smiles. She is the mannequin that came to life.
The Martyr Mom
She can die for her kids. Literally. You can count on her to dish out the juiciest soup of the century all on her own when she sees an injustice done to her babies – like not getting the latest pencil case in time because it was sold out. She will sell all her pots and pans to pay for their shoes (if she had too). She cooks for them, cleans after them, smooches them to no end, cries rivers if they get a booboo, posts their pictures all over the internet and expects great praises in return with a hundred and ninety two ‘likes’ for each picture. She’ll count you as enemy/jealous bitch #1 if you don’t comply. In short, she’s a nightmare to have as a friend TBH.
The Competitive Mom
She’s into sports, to state it bluntly. Be it a spelling bee. I mean that too is a competition, right? And if you’re unsure about how to recognize her then hear for the one who just can’t stop singing her own praises even when she’s supposed to be tooting her child’s horn. I mean those are HER genes after all.
The Tiger Mom
She’s the Kim Jon Yung of her household. Discipline, discipline and more discipline. She might as well wear a livery and carry a gun. Emotions are outlawed in her kingdom, at least until further decree, which may never come. You’re in love with him? Too bad. Mommy loves you more!
This list isn't nearly complete. I'm sure I've missed out an entire truckload of scary moms, psycho moms and other interesting varieties of moms out there. Please add in comments if you will ;)
Idle mind is the devil’s workshop and idle channel surfing is where this devil gets her ideas for said workshop.
While switching from ARY to Express to GEO to ARY again, I caught an insightful promo of a play called Mujhe Qabool Hai. Some female character was complaining about some male character to another male character. Her words were, "Koi bhi shareef mard aisay nahi dekhta!" to which the man she was complaining to replied, “Acha? Tum bara jaanti ho mardoon ke baray mein?"
My reaction was to cringe, frown, and cuss, all in that order, to recognize a complete WTF TV moment.
I cringed because the man’s comment was rude and totally shaming her. I frowned because, of course, that shouldn’t have been his response. Hello! Rude and pointless, too! What if she was right? And he was making nothing of her instincts? Lastly, I cussed because the promo ended there, freezing the woman’s petrified face in the frame, and I’m pretty sure had it not frozen there, that woman wouldn’t have gone on to give that man a piece of her mind because that’s not what nice Pakistani girls do.
Nice Pakistani girls keep their mouths shut.
That scene had me thinking. Exactly in how many ways do we tackle that single statement, that single grievance that a girl might have against an ogling, lecherous stalker? In how many ways do we shut her up?
Statement: "Koi bhi shareef mard aisay nahi dekhta!"
(What it means: No honorable man ever looks at a woman in that manner.)
I came up with 8 different responses to this 1 protest:
Response #1: "Tum bara jaanti ho mardoon ke baray mein?"
(What it means: So, you must’ve known a lot of men to know so much about men, hmm?!)
That’s the one that play chose to use. This is how you feed (yes, feed, not kill) two birds with one stone. One bird called doubt and the other called victim shaming. You create doubt by victim shaming, discrediting the accuser’s character/intention/objection, and skillfully reiterating the actual accusation towards the victim herself. So now, the victim needs to be defensive and answer questions. The accused gets off the hook without even knowing of the accusation, let alone putting up a defense. Case dismissed.
Response #2: "Tum bari hoor pari ho?"
(What it means: Yeah right, as if you’re a beauty queen that’s bound to drive men nuts with her enchanting prettiness!)
Yeah, because a lecher has such high standards and values regarding beauty. In fact, you can only ogle extreme beauties or they don’t let you be a woman-chaser. It’s not like lascivious men are so desperate that they won’t even dream of ever catcalling or ogling just about any woman who happens to be in the vicinity. Not that all it takes for a degenerate to seduce a woman is for that woman to be a woman. Nope. Not at all.
Response #3: "Itnay naik aadmi pe ilzaam!"
(What it means: How dare you accuse such an angel?)
Classic, this one. Obviously, it’s proper to put that other person’s honor before the one you’re actually bound to protect. How reasonable. Really.
Response #4: "Koi mard attract nahi hota jab tak aurat khod na himmat dilai!"
(What it means: No man ever notices a woman unless she’s interested in him.)
In other words, you asked for it! Is there really anything else that needs to be said after this except maybe introduce the respondent’s head to something hard and brick-like (like, maybe, a brick) repeatedly whilst screaming, “You asked for this, you twit!”
Response #5: "Tum khud aisi ho!"
(What it means: You’re a slut!)
Being unmistakably direct, this is a flat-out declaration of war. Get your armies and arsenal ready, I’d say. Because if this is what the people you trust enough to confide in think of you, you need to rethink your relationships and life.
Response #6: "Tumhara vahm hoga."
(What it means: It’s all in your head.)
Sigh. It would be more respectful to simply be honest and say whatever worries you about that confused, pea-brained little girl’s mental health. Is she cray-cray? To what extent? Does she hallucinate? Overactive imagination? Talks to walls, windows and doors? Had imaginary friends at age 2? Is this what she goes about saying regarding most men she interacts with? It doesn’t really matter if the answer to any or all of these is a Yes or an unfortunate No. Keep telling her that and eventually, all these questions will get a thumbs up in the end on the checklist.
Response #7: "Koi baat nahi. Aisa ho jata hai. Bhool jao."
(What it means: These things happen. It’s best to forget.)
Oh, darling, you’re not the only one! There have been many before you and many will be victimized in the future after this because we bloody won’t stop it at this point. After all, all that guy did was to look at you in a way that made you feel unsafe/ridiculed/naked/violated/I-got-more-take-your-pick. That’s okay. He’s made others feel that way, too. Or there are other women who’ve felt that way by other men. Now, had he touched you that made you feel all that his stare made you feel, well, that would’ve been okay too because that too happens. Whatever. Pass the salt.
Response #8: "Chup raho!"
(What it means: Sssssssh! Don’t. Say. Anything!)
The final admonition. There is no room for protest or dialogue or reminders after that. If the victim was lucky enough to remain a victim of ogling eyes, then, great. If anything terrible happened beyond that, then, it’s taboo to speak up anyhow. Keeping quiet is good for everyone. Especially, the offender.
A society that harbors such responses nurtures a culture of rape and victim shaming. While isolated incidents might be no more than mere ripples in a pond, though they must be more, collectively they do eventually lead to silencing something as big and horrid as the Kasur tragedy. Yes, perhaps, it’s the authorities now that are trying to hush everyone and everything but way before that, it were the victims and their families that understood the rationale of their own silence. And we understand, too.
How many more victims will it take to break this taboo, this should be the next question because a rape culture makes no distinction of its victims. Women or men, it devours both.
Note: This piece was first published in The Nation.
Paper Gold Publishing Authors
Rene Folsom ~~~ Game Changer (Playing Games #1)
Lucy Gage ~~~ Time to Begin (Ward Sisters #5)
Sydney Aaliyah Michelle ~~~ Hope For Her
Felicia Tatum ~~~ Entangled Souls
Susan Griscom ~~~ Beautifully Wounded
Lynda Kaye Frazier ~~~ Leather Chaps and Broken Promises
Elaine May ~~~ Lies and Truth
Anne Conley ~~~ The Fixer Upper
Rachael Orman ~~~ Addict; Her Ride
Desiree A. Cox ~~~ Unselfish Love
Sarah M. Cradit ~~~ Surrender
Julie Elizabeth Powell ~~~ Misadventures of Fatwoman
H A Kay ~~~ Love Me Do
Ella Medler ~~~ Trial Run
Meet the Authors
Tell me some fun facts about yourself that we won't find in your bio. Do you have any bucket list items you'd like to complete by the end of 2015?
Rene Folsom - Spare time fun - Outdoor sports like fishing, hunting, and even combining the two (like gator hunting)
- Favorite vacation spot - anywhere there's water
- Two bucket list items by the end of the year - NYT bestseller and to achieve my goal weight
Lucy Gage - I do a variety of things: read, dance, garden, crafts, camp, hike, snowshoe, ice skate, swim, fish, boat, hang at the beach and of course, read. My favorite place to vacation away from where I live (I live in Vacationland, after all), is Hawaii. One bucket list item is a trip to Ireland, which will happen in 2016! So, that's a goal this year. The other item is launching my next series, a spin-off of the current one. It will explore non-traditional relationships in a traditional romance novel format.
Sydney Aaliyah Michelle - I have 15 stars tattooed on my back to represent the 15 countries that I've visited and/or lived in. I ran/walked/crawled the Hong Kong 1/2 marathon in 2010. With two full time jobs as an office manager and a writer, I don't have spare time, but I give myself permission to watch reality television and count it as research into the human condition, haha! I have two favorite cities. London, which I visited for the first time in High School and where I lived for two summers during undergrad and graduate school. Tokyo, I spent four days there and it is on the top of my list of places to return to.
Felicia Tatum - Spare time-sleep and read, and my goals before the end of the year are to lose at least 50 lbs and publish 4 more books, one of which is a novella.
Susan Griscom - I like to go wine tasting with friends or just the hubs, also love to ski, ride bikes around the lake and oh yeah, read. My favorite vacation spot is Bora Bora. I went there on my honeymoon and so did a couple of my characters. I'd like to finish two more books by the end of this year and also lose 10 pounds. Both tasks are like climbing Mount Everest, but I'm working on them.
Lynda Kaye Parker - Between my full time job, full time family and writing my spare time is limited so I fill it with books and movies. I love read, but love going to the movies more.
Elaine May - I'd love to go to Australia one day. I love Florida and would live there if I could as I'm a massive Disney Fan. I would love to visit every Disney Park and I'm in love with New York. I've jumped out of a plane and had both my hips replaced.
Anne Conley - I like to vacation anywhere there's a beach, and frequently take walks around my 80 acres of country-bumpkin pastureland. I'm a country girl at heart and pride myself in not having a bucket list, just being happy with what I've got. Although, I really would like to be on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Rachael Orman - I am a former Marine. That's where I met my husband of 10 years. I'm also a Hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor for 10 years now, which is exciting. If I could go anywhere in the entire world I would go to Italy. I went there once when I was about 16 and I would love to return to share the experience with my husband, but with two little girls I doubt that will happen anytime soon. My goal by the end of 2015 is to have 20 published works. Since my 18th is with my editor and I already know what my 19th will be, I'm pretty sure that is an obtainable goal.
Desiree A. Cox - I love to travel. Miami is my favorite place so far, you can't beat the beaches and the warm water. But the West Coast is such a beautiful place. My husband and I drove up the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco a couple of years ago. We're going to drive from San Francisco up to Seattle along the coast in a couple of weeks. I'm very excited about the trip. We don't have reservations anywhere. We've marked out a lot of restaurants along the way, plus some sight-seeing (thanks to my FB friends). We used to travel for amusement parks when the kids were young, now we travel for food and wine. Goals by the end of the year? I guess I need to get Reclaimed By Desire, book three in the trilogy, done.
Sarah M. Cradit - My two passions outside of writing are world travel and historical research. I've been to over 20 countries, and have written essays on the Tudors/Plantagenets, Mary Queen of Scots, The Ptolemies, and Napoleon.
Spare time: What's that?! If I find myself with spare time outside of everything else, I am probably catching up on some sleep.
Favorite Vacation Spot: In the US, New Orleans. In the broader world, the British Isles.
Accomplish Before End of Year: Publish two more books in the House of Crimson & Clover series.
Julie Elizabeth Powell - I try to squeeze in card and jewelry making, and love creating 3-D art and my book covers. My favorite place is Magic Kingdom in Florida. I want to live in Cinderella's castle. Bucket list (an impossible dream unless I sell millions of books) to live opposite a sea view, preferably somewhere warm - hey, it could happen by the end of the year, lol. #2 - finish the list of writing projects.
H.A. Kay - I'm a mom of four, I don't have spare time. All my time is used up doing one thing or another. Fun fact: I love cartoons, and my kitchen counter doubles as my writing desk. I write blogs/books while I cook, do the dishes, clean house. Me and my laptop are on the go 24/7. My favorite vacation spot ... don't have one. We like to visit new places each vacation and we're still discovering the many wonders of our world. All I ask for is great accommodation. Bucket list - complete book 2 in my fantasy trilogy and my second chick lit novel and have these out by year's end.
Ella Medler - Survival in any shape or form is my hobby. Since childhood, I've been fascinated with any and all adventure-type programs and books. During my university days, I made it an every-weekend habit to take a train to the nearest mountains and simply walk over them. Yes, alone. No, I didn't have a map. One summer holiday I traveled across Europe, visiting approximately 50 different places in several countries - slept on the train at night between two cities, walked the streets during the day. Simply repeated that pattern for two months. Rome was the only city that captured my attention for more than one day.
Spare time is something my family forces me into every now and then, for Christmas or a birthday celebration. When I do step away from the computer, it's usually to play with my dogs or drive aimlessly down narrow single-track roads, just to see where they lead. I love the countryside, and my current location is a dream come true - the last house on the South Ireland coast, just before you fall into the sea, accessible only via a single muddy track that goes for miles over empty fields.
I picture myself running a Writer's Retreat in my old age, and that is my ultimate dream. If you're still around, you are all welcome to visit.
We hope you enjoyed meeting these fabulous authors and that you will enjoy their books all the same becuase these are brilliant pieces of work. And now, last but not the least, follow the link below to enter for a chance to win our giveaway.
I was recently told by a non-Muslim to go be happy in the 'tent' over my head.
The fact that he couldn't see my face in my profile picture as it has none, didn't stop him from commenting rudely on my clothing. My Muslim name and gender were enough for him to take liberty in telling me what to do, how I should dress according to what he thought I should dress like or already did. At that point in time, he was no different from the bigoted Muslims he so strongly believed he was different from because like terrorism, bigotry and misogyny have no religion either.
Similarly, last month, a Muslim Malaysian gymnast, Farah Ann Abdul Hadi, took the world by storm not because she won gold but because her costume was inappropriate – clerics said. She won. But all that mattered to everyone was what she was wearing, not her skill. How nice. The 'pious' men just couldn’t focus on anything else, right?
On the flip side, a school in Belgium sent home 30 girls for wearing skirts that were too long. Such an educated move on the school’s part, right? I totally understand the need to bitch slap any 'well-wisher' upside the head when he tells women to discard their hijab to liberate themselves.
Point in case - when weak men run out of smart things to say to women or about women, they resort to rebuking them and the first thing they target is their clothes. Please, shut up. Your opinion is not the one that matters.
I admit that a woman telling another to dress a certain way (wear a bikini or don a hijab) is surely annoying but not nearly as vulgar as if a man does it. At least the woman knows what it's like to be in those clothes. What the heck does a man know?
If you're a man and you think women in burka are oppressed, then, please feel free to not roam in one. Wear a bikini, a short skirt or be naked all you want. No woman would feel invited simply because you didn’t have enough clothes on. And if you're the kind that thinks women must wear a burka, then, don one yourself and see how easy life becomes for you. Feel 'secure' enough? Good! But that's probably because you just covered up your eyes and can't see no freakin evil in women any more on account of your burka hindering you from seeing women at all!
See how that worked?
I also have a bone to pick with a certain brand of feminists here, rightly termed as the ‘feminazis’.
If you're an opinionated woman like Hanna Yusuf who thinks that her choice to cover her body is worthy of a feminist statement, you're wrong. Apparently, 'feminist statements' as of now only pertain to not wearing anything, flaunting armpit hair, body shaming (especially if you’re not the preferred size of the week/month/year because, of course, the only natural size is what the feminazis validate and the rest of us walking around are just photoshopped or unreal), and attacking anyone who dares to disagree.
For instance, last week English soccer player Laura Bassett knocked her team out of the Women's World Cup with an own goal in extra time as Japan beat England, 2-1, in their semifinal, and the feminists rushed over to cry with her. That was cute but excuse me, she cost her team an important match. Apparently, simply pointing that out and stating that if this was men’s soccer, nobody would hand that player a tissue but hate him till kingdom come, earned me a place in hell! I was cursed, insulted and written off as a man since no woman could ever, ever, say anything but ‘oh poor Laura!’ in this case. Dafuq?
Feminism in 2015, unfortunately, isn't a movement about empowering all women and celebrating their choices and diversity. It is a nightmare where bigoted women seem to have replaced bigoted men in telling women what they should do/wear/think so they may be 'perfect' and if you dare to disagree then, boo to you. You're a woman. You still can't think for yourself.
We don’t need more boxes or molds for women to fit into, whether made by men or women. On the contrary, we need all molds to break. We need support, acceptance, respect and equal opportunity simply by virtue of being a member of the human race and for all of human race.
I’ll just finish by quoting Kamla Bhasin, an Indian author and activist, “Opposite of patriarchy is not matriarchy but equality!”
Note: This piece was first published in The Nation.
"Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview," says Weebly.
You have the right to remain interesting. Anything you say can be used in a written document.
Love Me Do by Humeira Kazmi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Love Me Do took me beyond the usual romance story, blending the culture and expectations of Pakistan with true love, and seasoning the whole dish with a rich spice of cultural details, I really felt as if I had stepped across the sea into Pakistan to watch as Sophie, Natasha, and Zaed struggled with this tangled love triangle in a mix of modern office politics with traditional silks, spices, and customs.
It's an excellent romance and a rich travel adventure at the same time!
Author, The Drylands
Winner, Campton Crook Award
View all my reviews