Kishwar Naheed: a Sinful Woman of Urdu Verse

Kishwar Naheed’s feminist anthem of Urdu Literature, “We Sinful Women” embodies the bravery of women standing up to the hypocrisy of patriarchy:

…It is we sinful women./Now, even if the night gives chase/these eyes shall not be put out./For the wall which has been razed/don’t insist now on raising it again.

It is we sinful women/who are not awed by the grandeur of those who wear gowns/who don’t sell our bodies/who don’t bow our heads/who don’t bow our heads © 1991, Rukhsana Ahmad

A Video of Kishwar Naheed reciting the poem (Courtesy of Rekhta Foundation)

Inspired by the Bravery of the “Sinful Women” of Pakistan

Excerpt from Wild Boar in the Cane Field.

“My anger contested hers with silence, making me reckless. I wanted to shout back at Saffiya. I wanted to tell her that I was far from a princess, as was evident by how I lived, and that I knew the proposal of Zakia’s nephew wasn’t what I desired. I clenched my hands and felt a throbbing deep in my head. I knew she was still talking, but I’d stopped. I stared at her, narrowing my eyes to contain the tears of anger that hung like dewdrops on the chameli leaves, evaporating in the morning sun. I had stopped breathing and began to feel light-headed, but contained myself to avoid a deep breath that Saffiya might interpret as the weakness of a sigh. 

Soon I let her insults slide over my freshly oiled, chameli-scented braid, neatly tucked into the black paranda I had bought with Saffiya’s money that she hadn’t given me. A week earlier, I had found three five-rupee notes under her pillow as I’d made her bed. I had swiped them cleanly from the pillow as she’d sat facing the window. Any guilt I might have felt now washed away in this tirade of my not accepting the proposal of the weasel like school teaching nephew of my archrival, Zakia.”

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