“Eunuchs” and Rights

The Petition

Under the aegis of his organization the Insaan Welfare Trust, Mr. Aslam Khaki, advocate, filed a constitutional petition (Constitutional Petition no. 63/2009) under article in the Supreme Court alleging the infringement of the fundamental rights of “Eunuch’s” (a term that is used as an English translation for “Hijra”).

The incident that forms the basis of the petition is “the case of molestation, humiliation and arresting the most vulnerable the most oppressed section of the society i.e. Eunuch or middle sex (also called as She males) by the Taxila Police on 23/1/2009″. Continue reading ““Eunuchs” and Rights”

عورت کے نام

Credit: Larry Moore

تجھ کو معلوم یہ شاید نہیں ہم صنف مری
اک تماشا بنا دنیا میں تیرا ہے یہ وجود
بات جینے کی ہو یا بات ہو مر جانے کی
بات کوئی جب ہو تُو ہے وہی پابندِ حدود

تجھ کو مغرب سے ملا کیا فقط رسوائی کے
جھوٹے وعدوں کی ردا چھین کے عزت ہے ملی
اک تلخ دھوپ کے سائیوں نے جھلسایا جسے
تیری کاوش کا صلہ ہے وہی ذلت کی کلی

اور مشرق نے روایات کی چادر لے کر
تیرے سانسوں سے بھی چھینا ہے حقِ خودداری
شرم کے نام پہ خود اپنی حقیقت تُو نے
رشتوں کے، جذبوں کے، چاہت کے آگے ہاری

یہ گلہ تجھ سے نہیں تُو نے نبھائی کیوں وفا
میں تیرے ظرف پہ مرعوب ہوں پشیماں بھی
تیرے ایثار کا بدلہ ہے ملا کیا تجھ کو
بدلے چاہت کے حقارت کی سلیبیں ہیں ملی

تُو نے خود اپنا لہو دے کہ سینچا جن کو
تیرا سودا بھی تو سدیوں سے تو کِیا ہے اس نے
خوش رہی تُو کہ تیرے قدموں میں جنت ہو گی
اور قدموں کے تلے روند ہے ڈالا اُس نے

تیرے احساس کی آواز دبانے کے لئے
جھانجھریں پاؤں میں اور ہاتھ میں کنگن ہے پڑا
تُو اگر بھول کہ اک قدم اٹھانا چاہے
سامنے ذلت و رسوائی کا بازار کھڑا

جس جگہ آج تُو الجھی ہے کڑی الجھن میں
تیرا پیکر فقط اک بھُلی کہانی ہے یہاں
حکمت و عمل کا میزان اٹھا کر اک دن
تجھ کو خود اپنی روایات بنانی ہیں وہاں

Unrequited Love

Amongst the a.t.m. receipts in my wallet

I gotta ticket           of unrequited love


It’s not as simple as the a.t.m receipts, you see —

like you could punch the numbers on the terminal


and hit the Green Key for “Here she comes” —


She never came out for me


even though she’d signed that ticket

with a blue felt-tip pen, and made promises

she would never keep.


Unrequited love, I miss you

even though you may have sung me in songs


your hopeless muse.


If you really have decided to void that ticket,

the time period has expired            f.y.i.


and there is nothing you can do about it now


You’ll stay larger than life

and me — your audience, holding on to that ticket —

looking like those a.t.m receipts

wit their thermal ink….


f a d i n g


every passing day


as I strive to rub you off my memory


and punch numbers, to make a living.


Unrequited love, I miss you.

Five Prayers of a Day

Fajr, or “when will dawn arrive?”


“Why be infatuated with him?”

“He’s proud, he’s pretentious — the world’s not the right fucking place, now that he’s turned his eye upon it.”




He’s the man I’d die for in one instant, and kill the other.”


I would own you. Each stubborn hair on your head — your chest. The shy ones on the inside of your thighs.

I’d own how you look,

the way your chin stands up against the world,

the way your spine props straight up,

and how your body conquers the space about it.

Continue reading “Five Prayers of a Day”

Walking the Line

Every society is an accumulation of certain norms and belief systems which define and establish the standard operating procedures by which it functions. However, the basic difference lies in the nature of the society: traditional cultures have relatively rigid, conservative and holistic approaches towards social institutions and liberal cultures are more open, liberal and individualistic in nature. Therefore, gender roles are more fluid and less conventional in liberal cultures unlike traditional cultures that have more stringent gender role divisions with fixed gender types pertaining to what it means to be masculine or feminine. Continue reading “Walking the Line”

Review: Lahore Love!

Lahore With Love: Growing Up with Girlfriends Pakistani Style
by Fawzia Afzal-Khal
Syracuse Unviversity Press, 2010


Although this is quite a bold statement to make, I will go ahead and make it: Fawzia Afzal-Khan is one of the most overlooked creative non-fiction writers of our time. She has a linguistic gift that gives her prose a weighty depth that appears effortless yet is painstaking in its profundity. Lahore With Love: Growing Up With Girlfriends Pakistani Style is the story of Afzal-Khan’s life through the lens of her female friendships. It is also an emotional narrative of the growth of a fraught nation, and the intimate impact it has had on relationships teeming with both love and tragedy.

I was introduced to Afzal-Khan’s work in early 2003 when she sent me an essay that is now a chapter in this book entitled “Hajira.” At the time, I was the founding editor of a small, social justice magazine that was seeking creative submissions for its premiere issue. We were seeking groundbreaking work, and Afzal-Khan’s fit the bill. Her beautifully crafted story of a woman who chose to forgo her own success in order to support the career of her stifling husband blew me away in the same way Hajira’s self-inflicted bullet snuffed out a brief yet impactful existence. With stinging eyes, I accepted the submission immediately and kept a lookout for more of her meaningful work.

Until now, Afzal-Khan’s writing has only been found in small doses — a response to Salman Rushdie’s erasure of Muslim feminist voices here, a meditation on the Swat valley there—with the exception of her scholarly work, which appears in numerous academic journals. (Afzal-Khan is a university professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey.) She even gave a glimpse of what was to come in her contribution, “Bloody Monday,” to 2008’s And Then the World Changed. But the scattershot pieces were not enough to satiate my appetite for the loveliness of her words or the personal way in which she writes of the people (and country) she holds dear. That said, Lahore With Love has made up for lost time with inspired provision in excess.

Slip into a comfortable chair along with this memoir, and request to remain undisturbed. The 145 pages will glide by all too quickly and beg to be returned to again and again.