Tracking Naheeda, the Pathan Village Woman

There was no chariness that Salim and Ali were chatting so openly with me, sitting cross-legged on a cot. Both the brothers liked their free-spirited young aunt, Naheeda.

Tracking Naheeda, the Pathan Village Woman
by Farzana Versey
State of Nature

She had not let childbirth and housework mar her looks, although some chubbiness had settled on her cheeks and chin. Her head was uncovered and her black hair was tied in a loose braid. ‘I want to work too, but I get no time. The schools are far, so I have to drop the children there. Women rule in the house. If I were under any restrictions, do you think I could talk to you in privacy? My husband is there praying, he could have stopped me.’ Just then he called out to her. She returned within minutes. ‘He has asked me not to let you leave without having lunch with us. He has to remind me to be a good hostess, I just talk so much that I forget basic manners.’ And what happened to the education she had acquired? ‘In future I don’t know, but for now my children will benefit. And it shows in the way I conduct my life. No one can boss over me.’ While her husband and mother-in-law were busy with their afternoon prayers, she did not feel it necessary to join them.

(Rest of this extract from A Journey Interrupted: Being Indian in Pakistan is at the link or the Journey blog)

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