As a kid aged nine, I remember standing outside my gate, in Lahore’s Cavalry Ground, waiting for the newspaper man to bring the latest magazine of ‘Bachon ki Duniya’ and ‘Taleem-o-Tarbiat’. Mom made sure I read these to improve my Urdu. I don’t know if it improved, but my friends and I loved the stories.
One of us would read out while the others sat around and listened. Yes, it was the time before the internet. – Television had only recently come. These fairy tales, and the Enid Blyton adventure series and comics were our favorite past time.
Hours were spent with these ‘far-fetched’ and ‘unnatural tales’. Most of them were full of mean witches, like the Snow White’s step mother, and cruel step mother of Cinderella. Many had dragons in them which flew and threw fire at innocent people. One cringed at the horror stories, and specially hated that cruel woman who locked Hansel and Gretel in that cage. There would be stories of cruel people sending off the helpless man to the river with a sieve to fetch water. If he didn’t do it, then he wouldn’t get his freedom.
Many a times, the hero had to go through the dark and scary jungle and fight many cruel animals to reach the top of the mountain where the fair maiden lived. Of course, in that jungle was the hermit who lived alone, and was very wise. Somehow, that wise man would give the key to saving the damsel in distress. Through it all, the hero would win the fair maiden and live happily ever after.
The best part of all these tales were the happy endings.
These days, children have the video interactive games where they fight creatures and aliens from other lands. Yes, these are like those fairy stories too. You have to fight unknown creatures, and go through battles to win your ‘rewards.’
A childhood spent with these stories, filled with grown-ups telling us “these are so ridiculous, real life is different. There are no dragons, witches, unicorns, fairies, gnomes, aliens
and so on”.
Now, as an adult in this world – especially in Pakistan. – I’ve made a discovery; “All these fairy tales were actually true!” Perhaps the endings were not quite like those ones but the main story was definitely true.
Just keep exchanging the ‘dragons’, ‘witches, with ‘legal systems of Pakistan’, the ‘red tape’ found in every office of Pakistan, ‘cruel people’ found among many relatives and people, and even the ‘wise old man’ found among total strangers in Pakistan. ‘Dragons’ are found in the form of many close or distant relatives, spewing fire at their innocent victims! – In one case, it was also a lawyer. The lack of ‘system’ found in most offices where you have to go and ‘get water in a sieve’ from the nearby ‘river’, before the work can get done!!
The endless phone-calls, the stamp papers, the attested copies, the ‘running after a ‘laal batti’ which is the ‘norm’ in every office all this is true. The dishing out of colossal sums of money at every step of every ‘system’ all are the true real life fairy stories of our grown up world.
But the classic one of all was the one I heard last week.
“Who do I ask to be my ‘witness’ “ I ask the gentleman who was going out of his way to be helpful.
“Anyone!” he says.
“Ok, then I’ll ask my mother and father to do the needful.” I say, about to get up to walk away.
“Oh no, not your mother! You can ask your batman, if you like,” says the gentleman, “Not a woman, it has to be a man.” He explained, as he turned to get on with his work.
“How would you feel, if someone said that to you?” I felt like asking him.
For once, I shut up. I decided, to keep my blood pressure as normal as possible. After all, this is the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The country where Islamic laws are in order! I mean all those Islamic laws which sound fine to the men. Because no woman of Pakistan has been allowed to formulate or enforce or interpret Islamic Law the way it is, for a woman. In Islam, the woman has 100% complete use of her own money. She can own property, have her own business and do a job. In spite of all this, she is not obliged to pay for her own upkeep, as that is the responsibility of her male relatives – which is why they are given larger portion of all properties. A widow, is to be provided for one year at-least, by her husband’s male family members. Here, all her funds are closed the moment the man dies. Everyone is ready to grab. But not to do what they are supposed to do in Islam. So, the Islamic law is conveniently interpreted to suit their own precious selves, and women left out to fend for themselves. While they cannot even speak out for the rights that Islam has given them. – Only for these rights to be usurped by the Muslim men around them.
Every law that is being enforced is from the man’s point of view. – Because he read it, purely from his own perspective. Where the interpretation of ‘spouse’ in Holy Quran, is written as ‘wife’!
Hence all forms of ‘justice’ is completely from the man’s point of view. Where the calculation of 100% of woman’s own earnings , cannot be calculated by their male-chauvinistic mathematics, but the 1/8 share after 32 years of marriage is easily calculated.
After all this we have to listen to how much Islam has liberated the woman. Yes, it had. It still does, only if its interpreted and practiced the way, it is meant to be. Not the selfish, cruel and mean manner in which it is being done in the present day in most countries, specially in Pakistan.
But I told myself to stop. This man had not made any of these rules. Nor, has he interpreted them. Islamic Sharia law in Holy Quran is about the ‘right way’ in a given situation.
Not this interpretation where an uneducated batman’s signature is more valuable than an educated woman’s (she may be a double MA, for all they care!) And in this case, two women’s signature could have done the needful. But no, here, we are more holier than thou!
So, as I was saying, all the Fairy stories are true.
– Especially in my country.
Thank God, my Allah is not a Pakistani, following Pakistani scholars’ interpretation of Islamic Shariah law. Islam is all about justice and benevolence. Here, things have nothing to do with justice.
Don’t worry, dear reader, yours and my God is above all of them. Hence, we haven’t much to worry about. This is just the stuff that fairy stories are made up of.
Luckily for us, Allah comes into our lives, in His shining armor; He says “And He provides for him from (sources) he never could imagine. And if any one puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is (Allah) for him…”
Stay blessed, my dear Reader.