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Monthly Archives: December 2013

A few good “F” words for the new year

By Farahnaz Zahidi

new year fireworks

Last year sped by just like all the years before it. Glorious on many counts, it also had its downsides that come with the package of any given chunk of time. Standing in my balcony, braving the rare chilly Karachi winds against my face, I am taking inventory of the year gone by. Some unresolved resolutions are jumbled up in the knapsack of my mind while some new resolutions have also found their way in.

‘What are going to be my focal points in the year to come?’ I wonder.

Somehow, a lot of ‘F’ words spring up in my mind – good ones, I must add.

Family: They may be irritating, annoying and an eternal encroachment on my personal space, but they are what makes life worth living for me. They demand a lot, but also give much more in return. If there is anything that is the ‘real’ thing in life, it’s your family; and if the real stuff sucks out the best out of you, it also gives you the best life has to offer.

So in the coming year, more cooking for my daughter; more walks (and simultaneous talks) in the park with my partner in crime; more evening tea trysts with my mother, whose eyes light up when she sees me; more patient time-spending with my sisters, who feel I ‘need to be more available on Skype and phone’ ; more brainless laughter over childhood jokes and discussions about Pakistani politics with my brothers; more hanging out with my nieces and nephews (a price one pays for being the youngest aunt); more one-dish dinners with relatives, and lastly, more visits to the distant aunts and cousins.

I mention all these people because they will be the first to arrive if I am in trouble. I know for a fact that they will stand by me even when I have a runny nose and a swollen face owing to allergies.

Friends: What could make life more enjoyable than the company of a good friend? As the years speed by, friends become even more important than before, and here I mean all kinds of friends; the ones who pump up my ego by giving me a healthy dose of compliments on how I look and how well I write; the ones who can say anything directly to my face when I need to hear it because they have known me since I couldn’t even tie my shoe laces; the ones who will swing by my house uninformed, plop themselves on the jhoola (swing) in my lounge and tell me their sob stories till my head spins; the ones who will go all motherly on me and make me tea and kebabs when I go to them in need of a pep-talk; the just-for-fun friends with whom I go out to share crazy laughter over coffee; those who are ready to mentor me in unsaid ways; the ones who will accompany me to the Imran Khan jalsa; the ones who call me a day before the jalsa, worried sick that I am going to a public place, and tell me ‘it’s so dangerous, you idiot’.

So in the coming year, more time-spending with my besties, if that’s possible, because they are already a major time-drain – one that is so worth it.

Food: Being a hardcore foodie, this one should actually top the list, but this year I plan to have yummier but healthier food. More concentration on fish, fruit, figs, and fresh greens instead of the regular doses of nihari, garlic-mayo fries, cheese dripping pasta and cheesecakes that all go and deposit themselves straight on the ‘troubled zones’.

So food, my first love, you are (still) on top of my priority list, baby. I am going to relish your each morsel and not gulp you down in a hurry. I will enjoy my cups of tea steaming hot and not let them get cold while other things, like phone calls and door bells, get in the way and destroy the taste of my chai because I have to micro-wave it endless times. I will also not serve food in pots, pans and degchis. I will make an effort to garnish it with ginger, coriander, parmesan, and fresh cream. Food will be a work of art and a sinless joy this year (ok family, don’t get your hopes high!).

Fitness: Looking good, feeling that extra spring in your step, experiencing that non-lazy bouncy feeling that makes you upbeat every morning – that’s what fitness gives you. And this poor ‘F’ was so neglected last year. So here is a solemn resolve; more healthy food, more walks and aerobics, less stressing, and most importantly more sleeping on time. Intermittently, let me enjoy a few last days of couch-potatoing, brooding over useless stuff, and sleeping at 2 am.

Fun: Being a serious-about-life and I-will-make-a-difference kind of person has a downside; you become too purposeful for your own good and at times forget to do brainless stuff just for fun. Things like watching an old Govinda movie, going out impulsively to have chaat, sleeping in late and buying yourself an extra pair of shoes just take a back seat.

So, I plan to have more fun next year, which would incorporate all the above mentioned ‘Fs’ but also include writing just for fun; some frivolous blogging, not merely journalistic endeavours that reek of activism, but also stuff like food blogging and a bit of dabbling with utterly emotional romantic poetry that makes my heart sing. Sounds like a plan!

Faith: My mainstay, my anchor, which sometimes gets buried under endless chores and to-dos. I feel that my time has drifted away with nothing actually useful done when I spend less time in prayer and a strange weariness clouds my happiness when I talk less to Allah (on the prayer mat or otherwise). So more of prayers and zikr in the coming year, and of doing things that will please God, which will definitely entail making His creations happy; serving, loving and spending (both money and time) on people I come across in my life.

Hence, my ‘F’ list comes to an end with Faith, and my faith says that I do not know for sure if I even have the next 24 hours to live. However, I have hope in His Mercy, and I will strive to live a life of better quality in the days and years to come, and leave the rest to Allah.

New Year – Bring it on.

Published here: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/9618/a-few-good-%E2%80%9Cf%E2%80%9D-words-for-the-new-year/
Published: December 31, 2011

Annual report – Chaaidaani – 2013 – 140,000 viewers this year!

WORDPRESS.COM PRESENTS

chaaidaani
2013 IN BLOGGING

ANNUAL REPORT

Happy New Year from WordPress.com!

To kick off the new year, we’d like to share with you data on your blog’s activity in 2013. Start scrolling!

Crunchy numbers
The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 140,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.

In 2013, there were 63 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 193 posts. There were 13 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 893 KB. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was July 18th with 19,255 views. The most popular post that day was Why Do the “Karachiite-type” Men Fall For Punjabi Women?.

Attractions in 2013
These are the posts that got the most views in 2013. You can see all of the year’s most-viewed posts in your Site Stats.

1 Why Do the “Karachiite-type” Men Fall For Punjabi Women? 289 COMMENTS March 2012
2 To Amir Liaquat Hussain about Taher Shah & the big snake 102 COMMENTS July 2013
3 But Why Do Punjabi Women Fall For The “Karachiite-type” Men? 117 COMMENTS March 2012
4 Why was Khadijah (RA) so special to the Prophet Muhammad (saw)? 15 COMMENTS July 2012
5 Naveen Waqar Weds Azfar Ali!! And that’s none of my business 27 COMMENTS August 2012
Some of your most popular posts were written before 2013. Your writing has staying power! Consider writing about those topics again.

How did they find you?
The top referring sites in 2013 were:

facebook.com
twitter.com
blogs.tribune.com.pk
mail.yahoo.com
mybigfatpakistaniwedding.com
Some visitors came searching, mostly for karachi, salma azfar, azfar ali, punjabi women, and quran.

Where did they come from?

That’s 173 countries in all!
Most visitors came from Pakistan. The United States & The United Kingdom were not far behind.

Who were they?
Your most commented on post in 2013 was To Amir Liaquat Hussain about Taher Shah & the big snake

These were your 5 most active commenters:

1 Omair 12 COMMENTS
2 Saira Bhatti 11 COMMENTS Following
3 mm 6 COMMENTS
4 Rai M Azlan 5 COMMENTS Follow
5 Tarannum Ahmed 5 COMMENTS
Perhaps you could follow their blog or send them a thank you note?

Thanks for flying with WordPress.com in 2013. We look forward to serving you again in 2014! Happy New Year!

Winters – Bluesy, Stingy and Oh-So-Karachi

Farahnaz Zahidi Moazzam on 20, Jan 2012
http://blogs.thenews.com.pk/blogs/2012/01/winters-%E2%80%93-bluesy-stingy-and-oh-so-karachi/

Early morning. The sunshine is cold but warm. The streets are slightly foggy……not heavily laden like Lahore’s…..not piercingly clear like Quetta. Just slightly foggy. KESC has forgotten to shut off the street lights. A few people on bikes are whizzing past in worn out woolen caps, wearing flimsy jackets or without-sleeves sweaters. Some are even, shockingly, in just a tee shirt, somehow surviving. I am driving past the Defence Golf Club. At the side of the road, a group of six labourers is sitting, basking in the sun, sharing a joke as a chaai wala on a cycle hands them tiny cups of tea. As my car moves towards Sea View, the breathtaking beach of Karachi steals my heart yet again. Early in the morning, it is not crowded. I park the car, with a take-away chaai in a disposable cup from the infamous Café Clifton. A lone camel trudges along in a melancholy manner, looking bored. A number of people are taking a walk or a run along the beach. The breeze against my face is cold…..bearably cold….and beautiful. In a mysterious way, no other city I have experienced changes in terms of what it feels and looks like in winter, compared to Karachi. Winters a la Karachi – short, unpredictable and utterly beautiful.

Good things come in small packages. Just like the winters in Karachi. They last hardly a month, which is why Karachiites celebrate and relish them. Ever after is boring, as are the almost never-ending winters in other cities. Karachi winters show you a jhalak, have you pining for more, and stay in your system.

Good things are also spontaneous and unpredictable. Just like the winters in Karachi. For on one day, we might write off winters and say winter is over and the springy mid-summer feel is back in our city, but the very next day, or hour, the “Quetta winds” may lash back at you. You know that from the sudden crackle of dryness on your skin and the parched feeling in your throat in the middle of the night.

Good things are also politically correct – they are anti-extremism. Which is why I love Karachi’s winters. Moderate. Bearable. Agreeable. Comfortable. You can use your winter wardrobe, shawls and light sweaters, but only in Karachi will you find a woman surviving in a lawn ka jora with a shawl in December. You can wear your boots and coat shoes, but you can also survive in your sandals from Charles & Keith or studded chappals from Zamzama. And we Karachiites are so cute…..those of us who have a decent winter wardrobe will wear it even if it’s 15 degrees outside. Whatever we do, we do it in style.

The new food haven of Pakistan in terms of variety (with the debatable dethroning of Lahore as THE food-lovers’ paradise), winter brings a new zing to the culinary experience of Karachi. You will see inexpensive munchies like roasted peanuts and steamed shaqarkandi and karari gajjak and dry fruits. And you will see thailaas of coffee and soap. Hot nihari and gola kababs are eaten in a jiffy, lest the ghee on top freezes to a crust. A rise in the sales of paye on meat shops is seen. Barbeque is being done on terraces. Halwaas make life a sensory joy. Dinners and socializing reaches a crescendo, which means more food in every possible way. Breakfasts, brunches, lunches, high-teas, dinners…..and the in-between and after dinner coffee sessions, with finger food on the side. Bliss!

But perhaps the best part of winters in Karachi is that people, in addition to the temperature, seem to cool down. Faces on the street somehow smile more, as does the face looking at me in the mirror. Less agitated, less heated are the temperaments. It goes without saying that winters are Karachi’s honeymoon period. The mercury will climb higher in the months to come. We all know it. That’s the reality. But when have reality checks ever stopped anyone from enjoying the moment? So sip that coffee, drape that shawl tight, bask in the soft wintry sunshine and enjoy it while it lasts.

What is love? – “TUM HUMSE HO YA HUM TUMSE” by Gulzar

Love…It sweeps us off our feet. It gives us unbelievable pain. It makes us fly. It puts us through hell. We question, at times, if there is something as true love, or not. Does it exist?
One feeling the pivot of all other feelings…descriptions so varied. Each one us has a different way of understanding it. Or the same person defines it differently at different stages of life.

Rarely has a poet summed it up as beautifully as Gulzar Sahab does in this poem.

Here’s to the lovers.
And to a feeling that is fluid, lasting, evolving, growing, but never really ending, if it is true.

Pyar wo beej hai…………

PYAR AKELA JEE NAHIN SAKTA
JEETA HAI TO DO LOGON MEIN
MARTA HAI TO DO MARTE HAIN

PYAR EK BEHTA DARIYA HAI
JHEEL NAHIN KE JISKO KINAARE BAANDH KE BAITHE RAHTE HAIN
SAAGAR BHI NAHIN KE JISKA KINAARA HOTA NAHIN
BAS DARIYA HAI AUR BEHTA HAI
DARIYA JAISE CHADH JAATA HAI, DHAL JAATA HAI
CHADHNA DHALNA PYAR MEIN WOH SAB HOTA HAI
PAANI KI AADAT HAI OOPAR SE NEECHE KI JANIB BEHNA
NEECHE SE PHIR BHAAGTI SOORAT OOPAR UTHNA
BAADAL BAN AAKASH MEIN BEHNA
KAANPNE LAGTA HAI JAB TEZ HAWAYEN CHHAREIN
BOOND BOOND BARAS JAATA HAI

PYAR EK JISM KE SAAZ PE BEHTI BOOND NAHIN HAI
NA MANDIR KI AARTI HAI NA POOJA HAI
PYAR NAFA HAI NA LAALACH HAI
NA LAABH NA HAANI KOI

PYAR AILAN HAI EHSAAN HAI NA KOI JANG KEE JEET HAI YEH
NA HI HUNAR HAI NA HI INAAM NA RIWAAJ NA REET HAI YEH
YEH REHEM NAHIN YEH DAAN NAHIN
YEH BEEJ NAHIN JO BEEJ SAKE
KHUSHBOO HAI MAGAR YEH KHUSHBOO KI PEHCHAN NAHIN

DARD DILAASE SHAQUE VISHWAS JUNOON AUR HOSH-O-HAWAS KE EK AHSAAS KE KOKH SE
PAIDA HUA HAI
EK RISHTA HAI YEH
YEH SAMBANDH HAI –
DO NAAM KA DO ROOHON KA PEHCHAANON KA
PAIDA HOTA HAI BADHTA HAI YEH
BOODHA HOTA NAHIN

MITTI MEIN PALAY EK DARD KI THANDI DHOOP TALE
JAR AUR TARAKKI KI FASAL
KAT’TI HAI
MAGAR YEH BANT’TI NAHIN

MATTI AUR PAANI AUR HAWAA KUCHH ROSHNI AUR TAREEQUI KUCHH
JAB BEEJ KI AANKH MEIN JHAANKTE HAIN
TAB PAUDA GARDAN OONCHI KARKE
MOONH NAAK NAZAR DIKHLATA HAI
PAUDE KE PATTE PATTE PAR KUCHH PRASHN BHI HAI UTTAR BHI

KIS MITTI KI KOKH THI WOH
KIS MAUSAM NE PAALA POSAA
AUR SOORAJ KA CHHIDKAO KIYA
KIS SIMT GAYEEN SHAAKHEIN USKI

phool

KUCHH PATTON KE CHEHRE OOPAR HAIN
AAKASH KI JANIB TAKTE HAIN
KUCHH LATKE HUE HAIN
GHAMGEEN MAGAR
SHAAKHON KI RAGON SE BAHTE HUE PAANI SE JUDE HAIN
MATTI KE TALE EK BEEJ SE AAKAR POOCHHTE HAIN –

HUM TUM TO NAHIN
PAR POOCHNA HAI-
TUM HUMSE HO YA HUM TUMSE

PYAR AGAR WOH BEEJ HAI TO
EK PRASHN BHI HAI
EK UTTAR BHI !

-GULZAR

In conversation with Bilal Tanweer: Between literature and life, he’d choose life any day

By Farahnaz Zahidi

bt

KARACHI:
When I met Bilal Tanweer for the first time a few years ago, the soft-spoken writer left me a bit nervous. Now, as I read through his brilliant debut novel The scatter here is too great, I know it was his deep observation that intimidated me back then. He doesn’t miss a thing. Having gotten to know him better, Bilal no longer daunts me. His writing still does.
He takes time to open up in an interview. In that sense, the 30-year-old author is a bit like the city of lights itself. His debut novel is Karachi-centric. In the midst of multiple characters leading inter-connected lives, Bilal is the qissa-goh — the storyteller who tells stories that are usually mired in the debris of bomb blasts.
The scatter here is too great shows a love-hate relationship of the characters with Karachi. They accept Karachi with all its battle scars. For Bilal, this city is still home, even though he has been living in the bubble of academic campuses for many years. “I am from Karachi. This book is an outcome of my engagement with the city. It speaks to me, resonates with me. The characters, their languages — all are from Karachi.”
In his words, Karachi is a hard city which has violence and fear but there is a flip side to it. “Because of the large number of migrants, it affords a certain freedom, a certain anonymity. Karachi is a city of contrasts.”
The scenes where the characters travel by bus in Karachi, have clandestine meetings in a Suzuki FX, or go spend holidays with their naani, will speak to every Karachiite. “I am from a middle-class background. That’s the world I’ve known. So it is a conscious decision that I have worded it in this way.”
Launched recently, the book is being received very well. Some of the best publishers in the world have agreed to take on this Pakistani writer’s first literary effort. “My best hopes for this book have been met. I am deeply grateful. Anything more that comes my way would be a bonus,” Tanweer says with humility.
The book comes at a time when anything with the hashtag of Pakistan and terrorism quickly catapults to global attention, yet the book is clearly honest and is not aimed at a particular readership. One can clearly foresee that this novel has the potential to be adapted into a screenplay for a feature film.
“The first reader is the writer himself. As long as my writing is honest to my experience of the world, I am satisfied,” says Tanweer. Almost offended by the idea that someone who writes about the problems of Pakistan may be doing it for instant success, he remarks, “Fiction writers may use these events, but that just means this is a part of their experience, which comes into their work. I don’t think any of them is writing for an imaginary reader in NYC. I am certainly not.”
Bilal does not deny the autobiographical touches in the book. “One big reason I write is so that I can give away a part of myself.”Pouring a lot of one’s self into a work of literature is not easy. “It took me five years to write this novel. The nature of the craft of fiction writing is different from journalism,” shares the writer. Tanweer, who has tried his hand at the latter, and has used that experience to write soliloquies of ‘the writer’ who is one of the key characters in the book. “In journalism, the events are important. But in fiction writing, the writer uses the events to show how they affect the characters. It’s hard but I quite love it. “
Bilal, who is currently teaching fiction writing at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, agrees that this is, in some ways, a good time for Pakistani writers. Apart from international attention which helps get better publishers, there are other benefits. “There is so much up in the air. As writers, we resultantly have a lot more to play around with.”
The book’s treatment of violence and how it affects people’s lives is powerful.
“In times of crisis, we are faced with the possibility of death. That helps us filter the essential from the non-essential. Artists and writers are supposed to take on subjects like war, death and the fragility of the human body.”
While writing is everything to him, Bilal has no ambiguity that living is a far more complex thing than reflection and writing. “The really hard thing is living as a good person. Inside, most of us are petty and insecure. It is far harder to lead a decent life than to write a great book.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 17th, 2013.

Photo: Aurangzeb Haneef

http://tribune.com.pk/story/646216/the-storyteller-between-literature-and-life-hed-choose-life-any-day/#.Uq_uE0tdUho.facebook

Book review: The Scatter Here Is Too Great – of guns and roses
By Farahnaz Zahidi
Published: December 15, 2013
Available at Liberty Books for Rs795.

As I picked up Bilal Tanweer’s much-anticipated debut novel, each page left me searching for a breather. A break from the profundity. From the cluster of sentences that make one stop, breathe deeper, look away from the book, come back to the page and dog-ear it. Parts that one knows will come up as quotes when one searches for the author’s name on the internet.
But then isn’t that the nature of the city in which his stories are set? Karachi never gives one a break. In one word it is ‘intense’. The Scatter Here Is Too Great, similarly, is not light reading.
The novel reads like a collection of short stories, in which different characters have interconnected experiences — experiences that are born out of the city and an event that affects everyone: a bomb blast. One special treat of the book is that each story has a unique voice and the reader moves from a four-year-old to a romantic teenager to a grieving father to other characters and back.

One cannot help but imagine these stories like the scattered fragments of a car’s shattered windscreen, a metaphor for this city.
Nothing that Tanweer is telling us is new. From Cantt station to Lyari to Clifton Beach, everything is familiar but told in a way which exposes the city to the reader in a new and meaningful manner. One almost wants to take the mini-bus all over again and have chai at a café outside Cantt station. The descriptions are real.
The first chapter in the voice of a small boy captures you instantly, also because of the jarringly simple language, like “I also left school because we had become poor. Baba lost his job at the office where they printed children’s storybooks… The old uncle Baba worked for was shot while walking out of a bank. Two people on a motorcycle tried to snatch his money. When he refused, they shot him.” The writer has not relied on heavy language anywhere. The themes are complex but the language is colloquial, which gives it a human feel.
It tells you the difficulties of young romance which raises its invincible head even in the most difficult of backdrops like an ever-vigilant nani and a lower middle-class setting in one of the most dangerous cities in the world. It displays a myriad of relationships. Particularly noteworthy is the difficult relationship of a father and son, when for the father, his ‘purpose’ becomes more important than his family.

Handling the subjects of violence and sectarianism intelligently, the author has not used the predictable method of using imagery that relies on the ethnic or sect-wise description of the characters. There is, thus, a subtle but strong message that the human experience is a shared one, especially in dark times, irrespective of where one’s family trees find roots.
In a time when violence in Pakistan gets global attention, it is a relief that the book does not seem to be targeted at a certain kind of readership. Tanweer is writing for himself and for Karachi. It is, thus, an honest book which makes the reader connect to it instantly.
The novel cannot be reduced to being labeled as just about Karachi. It tells stories that allow the reader to look beyond the headlines. Tanweer has managed to make us look at what we already know in a new way: “These stories, I realised, were lost. Nobody was going to know that part of the city but as a place where a bomb went off. The bomb was going to become the story of this city.” The Scatter Here Is Too Great is telling these untold and real stories. And we are listening.
Farahnaz Zahidi heads the Features desk at The Express Tribune. She tweets @FarahnazZahidi
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, December 15th, 2013.
http://tribune.com.pk/story/644606/book-review-the-scatter-here-is-too-great-of-guns-and-roses/

Kankar: Was Kiran right or wrong in divorcing her husband?

By Farahnaz Zahidi
Published: December 9, 2013

http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/19988/kankar-was-kiran-right-or-wrong-in-divorcing-her-husband/

The first slap is the worst – red, hot searing pain across the face. But what sears through is more than a slap. Something breaks inside. A feeling of helplessness, vulnerability and a shattered sense of self-worth takes over which is why, a woman’s first reflex reaction is always disbelief; shock. It is an instant realisation of the painful reality that she will never forget that moment. That she will never be able to unlearn this blow.

Sanam Baloch depicted a battered woman’s experience beautifully in the recent Hum TV serial Kankar which ended on December 6, 2013. The serial, with its protagonist ‘Kiran’ being a woman who chooses ‘honour’ over a damaging and abusive marriage, seems to have hit a raw nerve with people. Its popularity lies in the fact that this play has managed to raise some important questions.

With more and more research unearthing the fact that many Pakistani women get beaten in urban cities and a lot of them are educated women – it is not surprising then that a debate has ensued because of this play. I encountered a sample of that debate on my Facebook wall, at dinners and with close friends.

It was fascinating to me that Kiran’s character is that of a lower middle-class girl. The abusive but handsome and rich husband (played by Fahad Mustafa) claims to ‘love’ her and so is her ticket to a better, more affluent life.

In reality, a lot of urban and affluent women stay in abusive marriages, even suffering domestic violence, to maintain the social status and a standard of living.

But Kiran chooses to leave all of that behind.

She remarries a man who takes her around on a motorbike and she is busy with household chores all day. She leaves behind a life of luxury, simply because this man will potentially respect her more.

Mind you, she doesn’t leave Mr ‘I-love-you-means-I-can-beat-you’ right away. She gives him warnings and chances. It is after she miscarries when he hits her that she realises she has had enough.

izzat

But the responses I got to the question ‘did she do the right thing’ were a mix of encouraging and disturbing.

One friend said,

“Life is not a bed of roses; you have to compromise at some point. No one gets a perfect life, so one should see the positives and then decide.”

This response made me think. Compromise is a good thing, but one can only compromise so much. And is it ok to compromise on things as serious as getting beaten up without reason? This was the view of another friend, a male, and I just listened, at a loss for words.

“But the reason she was beaten up was because she was a very headstrong woman! She argued too much. Women who don’t learn to keep quiet end up suffering. See, in this serial, he is fine with his second wife because she doesn’t argue.”

Arguing to legitimise a beating? The logic somehow escaped me. However, as it turned out, in the next episode once the initial phase of the guy’s second marriage was over, he meted out the same treatment to his second wife.

As expected, Kiran was stigmatised by society and even discouraged by her sister and parents to take a divorce. But here’s the catch: To her, her ‘izzat’ (honour) is more important than just her ‘ghar’ (home). Thus, the play shows a paradigm shift. It shows that for this strong woman, honour in fact lies in NOT accepting abuses, demeaning behaviour and violence. That to her, izzat is not in staying in a marriage which has her known as Mrs Someone socially but also has her reminded of her poor family and slapped when in the privacy of her bedroom.

A friend agreed when she commented,

“It’s about whether we give more importance to money or izzat. If you give someone loads of money but no respect, is that a happy compromise?”

To this friend, it was a no brainer that Kiran did the right thing. To others, it was not.

One reason women stay on in such marriages is the often unrealistic hope that the person will change.

“You cannot change a person (completely). Many a women have wasted their lives in the hope… [while] a vicious cycle of abuse which only gets worse. And children brought up in this environment are more prone to psychological scarring,” said one friend on Facebook.

But another felt, and not without solid reasons, that everyone deserves a chance, and with counselling and effort, many couples are able to break the vicious cycle of abuse.

An interesting dynamic, as a young friend pointed out, was how this strategy of ‘controlling’ a woman via abuse is passed on like a family heirloom for generations.

“Kankar makes for such an engrossing watch because of the complexities of each character. Sikander is the product of an abusive relationship and classical conditioning plays an important role in his upbringing; if the wife argues or says anything that might remotely resemble anything as having an opinion, give her a good whack. Whereas Kiran is the quintessential headstrong girl of our times –somebody who knows her rights and does not shy away from demanding them. She is not willing to be treated as a doormat, and rightly so,” she concluded.

This friend rightly pointed out that the serial also shows the dichotomy between the earlier generation(s) and ours.

Sikander’s mother didn’t think her self-esteem was at stake when she was physically abused by his father, because she lived a life in which complacent acceptance of her secondary position and denial that this is a serious issue is a norm. Perhaps women today are more open to the idea of ending a relationship on grounds of self-respect.

Perhaps the best and most succinct comment came from a man, who believed that,

“Violence inflicted on a spouse (in particular) is never justified, unless it’s in self-defence or to protect another.”

This might be an especially good time to re-examine the debate that Kankar has managed to trigger. On the Human Rights Day that falls on December 10, 2013, a 16 day global campaign ends. This campaign started on November 25, 2013 which is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Relationships are sacred. But a person’s honour is even more so, may it be a male or a female. How we choose to protect our honour on the crossroads of life depends on many factors. In the climax of the serial, one woman chooses to leave an abusive relationship, though she loves the man. The other woman chooses not to because she does not find in herself the strength to do it.

It is not about who made a better choice, but about the fact that one must make careful and informed choices. It is time our society accepted that Pakistan has a growing number of women who will make the tougher choice.

If some of us do not have the strength to do that, we should at least support those who do.