Don’t You Know Haseena ?

 Haseena is my cousin’s old maid. Yesterday, hours before Aftaar she is frying The Pakoras while I in the kitchen stand over the chopping board with a knife in my hand and a packs of imported carrot, olives, radish, cucumber, chilies, and other food items. i am chopping, dicing and preparing them for the salad, snacks and dip sauces (Chathnee and Raita) to be served to over a quarter hundred close relatives for an Aftaar and dinner.

 The kitchen is buzzing with activity, filled with delicious aromas and soothing sounds of laughter as we exchange jokes, pass comments while working and enjoying in a festive mood. The only person who is totally mute, and has remained completely ignored, as if never existed, surrounded by a deafening silence, is Haseena.


 But her silence breaks when my five year old niece, enters the kitchen and pipes up at the old maid, “App nay Eid ka shopping kerlee ?” ( ” Have you done your shopping for Eid ? ” ). Haseena sighs, the activities is the room insensitively continue, traces of tears appear in her eyes, with a weary smile she says “Yes my dear child, I have”. “What did you buy for your grand daughter Nazoo ?” My niece asked her another question, but this time she couldn’t keep herself contained anymore, removing the last few pakoras out of the fryer she bursts involuntarily into tears, and collapses right there on the floor. My knives stops halfway into the expensive baby carrots, soon everyone is trying to console her while she narrates the misery she is going through.


 The old maid had only one daughter, she married her off some seven years back at the age of 19. In in the years her daughter produced four children (all girls), they were living a happy couple until a year and a half back her husband married another younger women, her daughter sill wanted to compromise but the little earnings the man brought home were not enough for everyone and soon his new wife was expecting, the expenses increased and when his new baby was born her husband decided to let go of his older wife. Haseena’s daughter was divorced and sent back to her mothers home along with her four children.


 But the story doesn’t end here, it was soon discovered that Haseena’s daughter was expecting again, Her daughter was beaten up badly, and was raped by her husband the night before she received her divorce. Now Haseena’s daughter is due is a few months.


 Although her daughters medical expenses are taken care of by a gynecologist the old mother works for but still by the end of the day there are four children and an expecting mother to provide food and take care of and it is often that there is not much for all of them to share.


 Haseena worries how her daughter will manage to take care of her five children alone, She is already wearing of old age, she definitely won’t be able to contribute to the family for much longer. She says she will try marring her daughter to another man yet again if luck is on her side.


 Moments after her story ends, the red baby carrots and green little olives are again getting sliced and chopped under my swift knife, the kitchen soon resumes to its lively activities, the festivities continue the only issue at hand is to get a pair of sandals for my five year old niece from Tariq road.


 Haseena’s story has changed nothing in the world. Haseena has always been there in our lives, doing our dirty laundries, helping us in the kitchen, assisting our children at shopping malls and parties, Haseena has always been telling her story but yet she goes always unnoticed unheard of. She does not exist, she never did.

14 Comments so far

  1. hbrehman on September 30th, 2008 @ 3:14 pm

    Allah sub pe reham karay

  2. Afreen (afreen) on September 30th, 2008 @ 4:01 pm

    A moving post, Jamal. Well done.

  3. tzaidi on September 30th, 2008 @ 8:04 pm

    @Jamash, indeed a really nice post. Poverty is now becoming a global phenomenon, considering the recent inflationary trends and higher cost of living, I don’t think that any measures taken by governmental bodies for poverty elimination will work out.

    Until recently, only those people who are less fortunate (or otherwise known as lower income class) were getting exposed to higher level of poverty, but now people in every class of society are getting effected. Lets take example of high level bankers, since the down fall of major investment financial institutions in USA due to credit crunch (mainly because of mortgage / sub-prime crisis) most of the top bankers are getting fired, not even in USA but even in territories as far as Russia and Singapore. Even in Pakistan, am expecting few banks to take a considerable hit. All am trying to prove that when we were not able to handle the poverty elimination efforts at lower level, then how come we can handle at macro level.

    Islam has given a formula, which we all want to practice but unfortunately many of us usually don’t practice it in the manner it is supposed to. i.e. Zakat and usher. This was a simple formula of wealth sharing, which was taught by RasulAllah (PUBH) centuries ago.

    In my opinion if we establish a ‘bait-uk-maal’ and put it under an honest supervision then then I don’t see any reason / hurdle in over coming this issue.

    Atleast, we can do our bit at individual level, but a collective effort will definitely show the results, quickly.

  4. Shamsi (shamsi) on September 30th, 2008 @ 10:22 pm

    Hipocracy is visible in your post jamash, your imported veggies are more important instead of ‘WHAT YOU HAVE’ contributed to ‘HASEENA’


  5. calyps on September 30th, 2008 @ 11:44 pm

    maire masi ka naam bhe haseena hai .. kahi hamari masi aik he tu nahe? :S

  6. tzaidi on October 1st, 2008 @ 12:40 am

    @Calyps, guess what !! my house maid’s name is also Hasina :)

  7. cabso1 on October 1st, 2008 @ 7:45 am

    "packs of imported carrot, olives, radish, cucumber, chilies, and other food items."
    "the red baby carrots and green little olives "
    "My knives stops halfway into the expensive baby carrots"

    How the hell is all that important? Are you relaying the story of your unfortunate maid or displaying your own wealth story? Despicable!

  8. ravik on October 1st, 2008 @ 8:33 am

    waiting here for Balma’s comments.

    No wonder pakistan is a breeding ground and high time to realize the perils of lack of effective family planning

  9. human01 on October 1st, 2008 @ 8:59 am

    I don’t know if everybody get this post right, the details of lavish life style represents the fortunate few among which characters like Haseena & her story doesn’t even exist. Their life n life style is unaffected by the millions of poor souls which are struggling for the very basic necessities of life. It’s ironic but true. The most troubled part of the story is that contrast is getting worst & the economic polarization is getting wider n wider. I think its one of the gifts of capitalism and in our case, fringe benefit of ultimate ignorance & illiteracy. A real challenge for all of us….may Allah help us all……Amin!

  10. Jamash (jamash) on October 1st, 2008 @ 10:51 am

    Thank you everyone for your appreciation and Yeah human01 You have got it right … :)

    And Eid Mubarak To all our readers :)

  11. Talha Aziz (aziztalha) on October 4th, 2008 @ 9:38 am

    its one of the gifts of capitalism

    Rightly said

  12. madiha on October 10th, 2008 @ 1:48 am

    I am amazed at why aren’t we proactive. how often have we come across stories such as Haseena’s, said a few words, indulged in a lounge chat and then moved on with our lives.
    I don’t want to read such posts unless they propose a solution and don’t mention ‘happy eid’ in the same breath.
    If this story is true, I can get together few friends and donate a monthly stipend towards her family. I would also like to know how old her grand children are, and if they can be enrolled in a technical school where they learn some skills and can fill some of that financial gap. Once I know the details about her family, I can look into a micro finance organization, which can think of a sustainable solution and not just one time monetary help. email me in private. thanks.

    P.S: I hate to point this out to you, but you spelled snacks as snakes in your post.

  13. Jamash (jamash) on October 10th, 2008 @ 2:36 am


    Thank you for your comments but do you really think we need an effort to find a Haseena around us ? I don’t think so, and no the story is a work of fiction.

    And when you ask about solutions, I don’t think we need to tell people solutions for such obvious issues ? Do you want me to spell it to you that you have to go help the kids, urge the government to formulate laws against marital rapes ? Do I need to say that I want people to Stop Chopping those bloody red imported carrots and start doing something already… ?

    I do completely agree that it was not appropriate to wish Eid Mubarak in this particular post, I apologize for that.

    Thank you for pointing out what I misspelled I will just correct it.

  14. cabso1 on October 11th, 2008 @ 3:33 pm

    Apologies for the angry outburst above. Your work of fiction above was very successful in raising emotions towards your main carrot cutting character!

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