That Sara Aziz!

Maniza Naqvi Colorfulscarves

I wrote this play in 1999. It was published in an anthology in 2005 and as a chapter in my novel A Matter of Detail in 2008.

That Sara Aziz!

Meet Ava, Sonia, Kulsum, and Shireen in four different levels but otally connected: From a sidewalk cafe where Ava who is a lawyer, is seated sipping her caffe latte, magazines scattered on the

table in front of her, text messaging on her cellular phone. In a high rise building, somewhere down on Wall Street, where Sonia, an investment banker, is at her desk in an office seated in front of her computer emailing and next to her phone, In the suburbs of Westchester county here Kulsum, a housewife, is in her kitchen on a cordless phone. In a car, Shireen, stuck in traffic on the Triboro bridge, is a real estate agent and is also attached to her cellular phone by an earphone. Let's give quiet Kulsum the opening line shall we? Scene opens.

She's in her kitchen. She is mixing something in a bowl. Finishes, washes her hands, and stands looking out of the window drumming her fingers on the kitchen counter, and goes to the phone to dial. As the phone is ringing, she goes over to the stove and turns on one of the burners. Then reaches in the cabinet for a frying pan. (She continues with the motions of preparing and then frying pakoras through the following scene. The spotlight goes on at another part of the stage where Sonia is seated in front of her computer in the office.)

Kulsum: Hi Sonia, are you very busy?

Sonia: Hello my dear, never too busy to talk to you. What's up?

Kulsum: Oh nothing much, the usual.You know. It's so quiet, now

that all the in-laws have gone home. Faraz is off on a business trip, to

California, will be back next week.The kids are out with the nanny. So,

finally, I have a moment to myself.

Sonia: Well I hope you're taking it easy, don't do anything, just sit

back and relax.

Kulsum:Yes, relax, that's a good idea. No, yaar they're all very nice,

they helped out and everything, everyone realizes this is not back

home, you have to do things yourself over here. They are good sports;

they said they actually had fun cooking-shooking, cleaning-sheening.

Sonia: Still, yaar, so many people, just relax.

Kulsum: Noooo-oh, what so many people? If we were back home

I'd be living with them. No? So once in awhile if they come over, I like

it very much…

Sonia: You don't always have to be such a goodie-goodie.

Kulsum: I'm not being a goodie-goodie. I mean it. It's so quiet now

that they're gone, no one to talk to, no one to eat with. I mean it's just

so different here, alone. The kids are missing everyone too. you know

the grandparents and their uncles and aunts…

Sonia: Well, you're going home to Lahore for the winter

holidays. . . . Anyway, how are the little favorite munchkins of mine?

Kulsum: Fine, just beginning to sound a bit too American for my

liking. At 3 and 5 it's becoming why mom this and why mom that on

everything and whining about everything.

Sonia: Well, that's going to happen. They were born here. Try to

keep it to a minimum.

Kulsum: I keep telling Faraz we should go back. We have two

daughters. I mean I don't want to raise them here. At least for a couple

of years we should go back.

Sonia. You're sounding like a total jahil. What are you trying to say


Kulsum: Don't get me wrong. I want them to do all the things, get

educated, work, everything, but growing up here, I feel worried.

Sonia: What are you worried about for god's sake!

Kulsum: I mean they are growing up alone, no relatives, no idea of

sharing, no values.

Sonia: That’s bull!.They'll have your values and whatever else you

want to teach them.

Kulsum: I can't teach them everything. The culture. . .

Sonia; Trust me on this one. Whatever you don't teach them, they

don't need to learn.

Kulsum: I don't know yaar. I'm beginning to worry.

Sonia:You have nothing to worry about.

Kulsum: No honestly, yaar. Look, we weren't raised here.

Sonia: I know, I know what you mean.

Kulsum: I don't want them to lose out on that. That's all. Listen,

why don't you come over. Yaar it's been weeks since we've gotten

together, shouldn't we all get together? Why not come over for dinner?

Sonia: Tonight?

Kulsum: Yes, tonight, just catch the train and I'll pick you up at the

station. Why don't you take the 7:05. It'll get you here at about 7:45. I’ll meet you at the station,

Sonia: Can't tonight. How about tomorrow?

Kulsum: (Sighs) Fine.

Sonia: Don't sound so sad! We'll do dinner tomorrow. Why,

what's wrong?

Kulsum: Nothing's wrong.

Sonia: Then why the deep sigh.

Kulsum: It's just so quiet here.

Sonia: You're just having the post-guests-blues-back-home blues.

Kulsum: Guess so.

Sonia: We'll talk up a storm tomorrow night, and I'll stay over, go

straight to work from your place okay.

Kulsum: Sounds good! Tomorrow is fine.

Sonia: Great.

Kulsum: Let’s ask Ava and Shireen too.

Sonia: Okay.

Kulsum: Hold on let me get Ava. Ava?

Ava: Hi Kulsum!

Sonia: Hi, I'm here too.

Ava: Oh Hi, Sonia. Whatup?

Kulsum: Oh please Ava, don't start talking like a hoodlum.

Ava: Oh sorry dear, adab, how are you? What's going on?

Kulsum: Dinner. Tomorrow night at my place.

Ava: Sorry, Kulsum, I can't. How about the day after?

Kulsum: Another quick trip?

Ava: No, I'm suppose to meet a nephew of Faiza Khala, who works

in the city.

All together: Ah hunh?

Ava: Right. I suspect it's a major set up attempt.

Sonia: Suspect?

Ava: No, I know it is-But what the heck, I didn't want to let Faiza

Khala down. I'll just go do dinner and grit my teeth.

Kulsum: Poor Ava.

Ava: I know yaar, this is really humiliating.

Kulsum: Okay, well then the day after tomorrow and we can have

a post mortem of the nephew and dinner.

Sonia: Yes, Ava you can tell us how he tasted, whether you had him

grilled or broiled or…

Ava: (Laughs): Yes, so day after tomorrow?

Sonia: Fine by me.

Kulsum; Okay.

Sonia: Kulsum, should I get Shireen on the line?

Kulsum: Would you? Thanks.

Shireen: Hellol

Sonia, Ava and Kulsum: Hi Shireen.

Shireen: Oh good, my favorite three, what's up.

Kulsum: Dinner day after tomorrow my place, Kulsum and Ava

can make it.

Shireen: Darlings! I'd love too. But what to do, can't, it's my yoga

class night. But I'm free tonight or tomorrow

Sonia: Can't. I have a blind date tonight.

Ava: Can't tomorrow night. I have my book group and then I have

to rush for my tango class.

Kulsum: Can't we ever get together?

Sonia: Next week is all clear for me.

Ava: Can do Tuesday next week.

Shireen: Me too.

Sonia: Me three.

Kulsum: So dinner next week Tuesday. We're on, my place. But

Sonia, come over tomorrow too.

Sonia: Done. Ciao. Mafnana.

Ava: Adios.

Shireen: Bye for now

Kulsum: Khudahafiz.

Sonia turns to her computer. Reads for awhile. As she reads her

email: “Fuck! I can't believe itl What the hell? This is unbelievable. She's

really done it this time, the dumb fuck!” Picks up the phone and

punches in the numbers.

The spotlight on Kulsum lights up, the phone rings and Kulsum

frying something goes, picks up the phone, and walla back to the oven,

Kulsum: Hello. Siddiqqi residence.

Sonia: It's me again.

Kulsum: Look Sonia, I don't want to hear you can't come over


Sonia: No, not to worry. That’s not why I'm calling. Guess what,

you are not going to believe this.

Kulsum: He asked you and you're getting married.

Sonia: Don't you ever have anything else on your mind?

Kulsum: No, not where you're concerned, no' What else am I

supposed to think about?

Sonia: Anyway, before you really get me angry' do you want to

know what I called you for?

Kulsum: What? Tell me' I hope it's good gossip'

Sonia: Oh yeah, oooh yeah' this is a good one' And it ain't gossip'

Kulsum: Okay, yaar, I can't take the suspense.

Sonia: Guess what dear cousin Sara is doing?

Kulsum: She's getting a divorce? Oh no, not again' No wait, she's

having an affair, Oh no, not again. She got drunk and was found naked

in the garden in the hammock with someone else's husband? Oh no,

not againl

Sonia, Oh no, much better than that. Much, much better' She's

really done it this time. Are you ready?

Kulsum: Do I have to sit down for this, because I'm doing

dangerous work right now. I don't want to hurt myself with the shock'

Sonia: Yeah, sit down' Are you ready? Dear, stupid, hypocritical,

dizzy Sara, has gone into…

Kulsum: Labor, coma, business with the drug mafra, exile,

convulsions, what, what?

Sonia: Hijab.

Kulsum: What?

Sonia: Hijab.

Kulsum: What?

Sonia: Exactly.

Kulsum: What? Where did You get that?

Sonia: Just got an email from Rehana, who saw her at a party last

night. Dear, dear cousin Sara, walked in, covered in a Hijab! And

Rehana said that she hadn't believed it either when people told her,

because a lot of women had seen her around, you know picking up the

kids at grammar school' etc., but last night at the fund raiser for the

Heart Center, there she was, in Hijab! Hijab

Kulsum: So what?

Sonia: What do you

mean, so what? It’s


Kulsum: But many girls

wear hijabs here, don't

they, and in France

and Germany and


Sonia: Yes, here. But not

Pakistan. It's not our thing!

It's not our

culture. I mean it doesn't go with what we wear! It's western for


Kulsum: Malaysian and Indonesian women wear it.

Sonia: For god's sake, they're western… compared to us.

Kulsum: You're losing it.

Sonia: You're being stupid, and you know it.

Kulsum: Well you're just being silly.

Sonia: We're talking Sara, here.

Kulsum: So many other women in Pakistan are doing this now…

Sonia: She's not them!

Kulsum: Look Sonia, women need to wear the hijab because

they're going out more to find jobs, working in offices, factories, taking

public transportation. It's just a way of security for them and

acceptance of their stepping out into the domain of men.

Oh wait, I have another call coming in. Hello, han, Ava. I've got

Sonia on the line. You are not going to believe what she just told me.

Hang up, I'll call you right back. Sonia, are you t}rere?

Sonia: Yes.

Kulsum: I'm going to get Ava on the phone with us. Hold on. Ava

Ava: Hi!

Sonia: Hi again, Ava!

Ava: Hi Sonia!

Sonia: Where are you?

Ava: Bus yaar, finally an afternoon off! I decided to just take in the

sun. I've had it with the deposition work. I hate the hours. I hate my

bosses. I hate being on the partner track. I want to drop this whole

thing. I'm telling you, it's just too much. I just got back from bloody

Tokyo over the weekend only to 6nd out I had to go for a day meeting

to London. I just got back last night. I cannot understand why these

things cannot be done through teleconferencing. I mean it's totally

ridiculous. Okay, so one does chalk up the frequent flier miles, but

frankly one doesn't need them (A) because one can never take a

vacation and (B) because one has enough money to buy one’s own

tickets, thank you very much. And (C) again, because one never has the

time to take vacations anyway! Then the first thing that happens this

morning is that my client tells me he's having a panic attack, can't go

through with the damn merger, and I'm saying go take a Prozac, calm

down, do yoga, whatever, but I am not going to listen to not going

through with the merger after I've sacrificed six months of my days and

nights slaving over t}re bloody price earnings ratios parity-bullshit. I'm

really thinking about…

Sonia: Join dating. com.

Ava: What?

Kulsum: What?

Sonia:, My blind date tonight, that's where het from.

I'm telling you, it's the best thing.

Kulsum: You're going to get killed by an ax murderer!

Ava: She's right, Sonia.

Sonia: Calm down! It's totally the thing. Since you're doing the

“whatup” thing, you might as well do the as well.

Ava: Seriously Sonia…

Kulsum: Ava, shut up. Acha, shut up, we've got news for you.

Ava: (bored): What?

Sonia: You're going to love it.

Ava: What?

Kulsum: Sara was sighted last night at a charity ball in Karachi.

Ava: So? So what's the big deal? I thought news would be if Sara

wasn't sighted at a charity ball in Karachi. Sort of like “man bites dog.”

Kulsum: In a Hijab.

Ava: Excuse me?

Sonia: Sighted at the ball in a HIJAB!

Ava: I'm assuming it was a fancy dress ball and she was going as the

Saudi Princess off to have her head chopped off, or the love interest of

Mullah Omer.

Sonia: Good, very good. That was funny.

Ava: What the hell is she doing in a Hijab?

Sonia: This is just too good. Let’s get Shireen on the line. Hold on,

everyone. (She dials).

Shireen: Hello.

Sonia: Hi Shireen, I've got Ava and Kulsum on the line as well.

Ku]sum: Hi!

Ava: Hi!

Shireen: Hi, Hi! Traffic is hell on the Tiiboro.

Sonia: What the hell are you doing on the Triboro at this time?

Shireen: Trying to get home to pick up the kids, yaar. Had a

property. I was showing in midtown. Acha Sonia, are you still interested

in that loft in Tribeca, because you really need to let me know pretty


Sonia: Next week, for sure okay?

Shireen: Is that a pukka okay?

Sonia: Yes, okay, next week, definitely.

Shireen: Fine.

Ava: How's the market?

Shireen: You tell mel You guys are the ones on Wall Street! I don't

get it. It seems like people are just made of money. They don't know

what to do with it. I just showed someone a place on West 72nd which

can only be referred to as a walk-in closet, and some guy is putting down

750 for it. What is going on?

Sonia: What can I say, it's the stock market. It's the It's crazy and it's about to blow.

Kulsum: You say that everyday Sonia. It hasn't blown yet.

Shireen: Well, until it blows I'm sure making beautiful

commissions and that's fine for me baba. It's going to put the kids

through college yaar. So don't say stuff that's going to jinx things or get

the gods upset.

Ava: Shireen we've got some juicy stuff for you.

Shireen: Prada has a new design out in shoes?

Ava: Well, not as good as that.

Sonia: Well, almost as good.

Shireen: Dirt?

Ava: Oh yeahl

Sonia: Second that motion.

Shireen: It better be good dirt.

Sonia: Oh yeah, babe, like how!

Kulsum: Well, it isn't dirt..

Ava: Oh yeah it is, it's about Sara, not mother Theresa.

Shireen: She's not marrying again!

Sonia: Nope.

Ava: That's not dirt. That's recycled waste.

Kulsum: Whatever that means.

Sonia: Yeah Ava, what does that mean?

Ava: Don't know, just thought I d say it.

Shireen: Okay, get with the program. Not an affair-shafair or anything?

Sonia: No such wimpy stuff!

Shireen: Oh my. This is going to be good' What is it? Naked again?

Sonia: Keep guessing, Shireen.

Shireen: Give up!

Ava: Hijabing it.

Shireen: Hijacking??? She's been hijacked?

Kulsum: (laughing) No! She's gone into hijab!

Sonia: She's gone no where. She's going everywhere as usual only

she's wearing a hijab.

Shireen: Sara's in hijab?

Sonia: Yup.

Shireen: Hijab?

Ava: Yup.

Shireen : Unbelievable!

Sonia: Why? It fits in with all her other crazinesses'

Kulsum: It's not even part of our culture'

Sonia: Exactly!.

Shireen: I mean what's happened to the place since we left' It used

to be normal when we were there. Never heard of the hijab!

Kulsum: Of course dupattas…

Shireen: And chaddars and really if one was from the old city in

Lahore then burqas, but what's with the hijab?

Sonia: It's totally Saudi, and our dear Sara is doing that hijab thang!

Shireen: Yet another one of Sara's fads!

Ava: Only this one's in our faces' This one is real making me

throw up and get angry. How dare she do ever)'thin$, break every rule

and then throw this morality in our faces, that bloody hypocritical


Kulsum: Hold on, she isn't doing this to you'

Ava: Oh yes she is! For her two days worth of whimsical trendiness

Copycatting somebody else I'm sure, she is causing a lot of harm!

Kulsum: Well…

Ava: Don't say she isn't! You know she's not capable of an iota of

original thinking. I bet some rich woman out there that she hangs

out with, is in hijab suddenly and so Sara Begum decides to don it as


Kulsum: Maybe it's more than that!

Sonia: Why should it be? Over the time we've known her' how

many transformations have we seen, the remaking, the recreation of

Sara Aziz? She went from long hair to short, from fat to thin, from

brown eyes to green contact lenses, from brown hair to blond. From

one husband to a fourth. From poor to filthy rich. I mean there is just

nothing that you can say is constant about her.

Kulsum: That would make for an interesting person.

Ava: Or an extremely vacuous one.

Kulsum: Or perhaps t-here's some Mullah Omer in her life. She

seems to attract men.,.

Ava: Oh for gods sakell

Sonia: She thinks she can suddenly go into Hijab after all that she

has done and become Ms. Saint. As if everyone is going to forget her


Kulsum: Well it's been known to happen.

Shireen: Well I think it's just in keeping with her frame of mind.

Frankly, I think she's anorexic. Did you see how thin she was last time

she was here? And she ate absolutely nothing, and she was on the

treadmill all the time. A spoon of Ben and Jerry's god forbid, and she

would spend the entire night on the treadmill at my place. Honestly

baba, she drove me crazy. Tobahl !

Ava: Ben and Jerry was acquired by Unilever?

Sonia: Yes!

Shireen: Oh nol Does that mean my kids are going to make me

boycott it? I mean years of not eating Hagen-Daz because they invested

in South Africa, now this…

Sonia: It's history, Shireen. Anyway, coming back to the point: Sara,

she! just selfish.

Shireen: Or you know what?

Kulsum: What?

Shireen: I think it may be she's getting older, and you know how

obsessed she is about being young.

Ava: And the hijab covers the thinning hair, the sagging skin around

the jowls and the neck?

Sonia: For god's sake we're all only 40!

Kulsum: But Sara stopped at 29. So she’s 29. Hijab is so much

healthier than Botox!

Sonia: Oh yeah, we're really I 1 years older than her. Give me a


Kulsum: This year we are but next year, darling, we'll be twelve

years older than her'

Shireen: No I think you are absolutely right' I was going to say the

same thing. You know, I think she is really afraid of getting old and this is

a good way to cover it up. But I think she's anorexic also' And then you

she really got a scare this year with the heart attack that Riaz had.

Sonia: Give me a break' Scare? My ass! It took her exactly one week

after that to start planning her next trip to Europe'

Kulsum: What does that have to do with anything? Doesn't mean it

didn't affect her.

Shireen: I think she really took it to heart! You know she really

loves him.

Ava: Like she loved all the rest?

Kulsum: That is not very fair, is it?

Sonia: Ava, really, it isn't.

Ava: It's my opinion.

Shireen: Poor Sara.

Ava: Why poor Sara? She's a bloody hypocrite' No so choaie kha key

billie kerney chali haj! The cat snarfs down 900 mice and heads off to

perform Haj.

Sonia: Haj! That's it. She went for her Haj, didn't she? Maybe all the

trips for umra and Haj have done this.

Ava: Give me a break, Haj and umra. You know I don't buy that at all!

She goes there only to buy gold. It's t}re best Place to buy gold y’know!

Kulsum: Don't be cruel. That's really unfair! She has always been

religious. She has always done these things'

Shireen: That's true. That is something she has always done since she

was a child. She has always prayed five times a day.

Ava: Well, you know what? I wish she hadn't' Because all her life

she has done whatever she pleased, hurt whoever she pleased, broken

every rule in the book, lied through her teeth, and made sure she

absolved herself five times a day. So don't give me that shit!

Kulsum: I don't think we should sit in judgment of her that way!

She has had a hard life. Seen a lot of pain!

Ava: Hard life? Hard life? She has caused endless suffering' She has

lived for herself. Done only as she pleased, got her way in every*ring'

and never given a damn about anyone'

Sonia: I second that motion!

Ava: How dare she? How dare she under the circumstances in this country do thisl

Kulsum: What?

Ava: What do you mean,,what,” Kulsum?

Kulsum: What circumstances are you talking about?

Ava : The situation in the country!

Kulsum: What do you mean?

Ava: Kulsum, women are being hlled in the name of honor!

Kulsum: What does that have to do with Sara?l

Ava: Everything! Women are being killed in the name of honor, for

demanding a divorce or wanting to exercise their choice in marriage. All in the name of honor and chlrdivari. Women over there work, just like they do here. They need to be able to move around, interact wit-h other people. And she, she of all people, of all the people, Sara, should have the audacity to take this up as a badge. To actually become a part of that. Now that she has all she wants by doing exactly what she wanted all her life, she wants to take that away from everyone else.

Kulsum: She's doing it herself. She’s not inflicting it on anyone else.

Ava: Oh yeah, if she walks into a room with all of us, and she is in

a Hijab while the rest of us aren’t, what does that say for us?

Kulsum: Why should it be about you or us? It’s

about her. Why are you reacting this way?

Ava: Don't you dare call me a reactionary to that bloody hypocrite.

Don't you know what happened next door with the Taliban. Don’t you read anything ever Kulsum?

Kulsum: Well, I do know my geography darling. It’s not next door,

next door is Scarsdale, quite frankly.

Ava: Do be serious!

Kulsum: Why don't you be less so? Do you really think I don’t

Know what’s happening in Pakistan or the world? But around you, I really feel like just giving it all a rest.

Shireen: Bibiyonl Bhainon! HazratllWomen! Girlsl Kidsl Dollsl For

god's sake!

Ava: No, I can't let this just go. I can’t let it rest. It has to matter.

There’s a country of women *who are being buried alive in their houses,

behind chaddors, even their footsteps cannot be heard. They are dying

of suffocation. And this bitch thinks; she can fool around with the Hijab because of whatever.

Sonia: Well, I think there's a bit of exaggeration there. And I'm not

ready to condemn the Taliban. They've at least controlled most of the

country, and if they can stop the fighting and the killing then let the

women be in chaddar, for peace, so be it. And it can't last forever. It's

only a phase. For peace, it's worth it.

Ava: Oh my god. I cannot believe what I'm hearing! Are you crazy?

What's happening to everyone? It's all about the drug trade, the

pipeline for oil. And women and children are paying the price.

Kulsum: Frankly, Ava, I don't think you want to hear anyone

except yourself.

Ava: Frankly, Kulsum, I have something worth saying. It's hard to

hear someone prattling on about with who, what, why all the time!

Kulsum: Well excuse me!

Shireen: Time out!

Ava: Why time out? Why should we try to even explain Sara's

behavior. We ignore her. We ignore what she is all about. Suddenly this hijab

should make her worthy of being above board, requiring our respect.

Kulsum: No one said that.

Ava: Sure, they did, maybe it's anorexia, maybe it's Riaz's heart

attack. Bullshit. She is thin because she thinks she can attract the next

fat cat with her sexy body and frankly should someone richer come

along, Riaz dropping dead would only facilitate the matter.

Shireen: Don't be stupid, Ava. Watch your mouth. God forbid.

Kulsum: Really, Ava.Toba. God Forbid.

Sonia: Ava, cool it. Okay?

Ava: Fine. God forbid anything should happen to Riaz bhai.

Kulsum: I mean, if Sara, who has always been inclined toward

religion all her life, should choose to do this, why is it such a terrible


Shireen: We don't seem to have a problem with women wearing

long skirts one day and short skirts in another season when the

magazines dictate it so, so why be so overcome with anger over a hijab?

Sonia: C'mon guys, Sara has to manage her garment business. She

does travel to the inner city areas, where people are conservative. All

her workers are men and they are pretty conservative. She probably

earns a lot of their respect by dressing that way and it probably allows

her to stay around them for longer periods of time without question

and without hassle.

Ava: I just cannot believe this shit. I cannot believe you guys.

Kulsum: And if you are going to follow the words in the Koran


Ava: Don't you dare say what you're going to say.

Kulsum: It's in the Koran.

Ava: It is not, it is not. This is exactly what an absolute ignoramus

Iike yourself will've never bothered to read anything?

Shireen: Ava, watch it!

Kulsum: Are you telling me that it isn’t in the Koran?

Ava: I am telling you that the Quran does not say wear a hijab or

to hide yourself. There is only one reference -O prophet tell

your wives and daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their

wraps a little over them. They will thus be recognized and no harm will

come to them.” That's it. In a state of war, it's in a contextual frame.

Think about it, in a war, when men are animals…

Kulsum: Are you sure that’s the only reference?

Ava: Positive.

Kulsum: Wow Ava, I didn’t realize you were such an ….lslamic.,,

Ava: See! For you that’s an exogenous feature. I have to be

something to do that. To me, reading the Koran is not a big deal! And

in any case I have to, to be able to ward off fools like you!

Kulsum: Wow, I'm very proud of you. But are you sure? Can I

quote you?

Ava: Of course I'm sure. I'm not you! And you’re not quoting me,

it's the Koran

Sonia: Ava, I'm not so sure yaar, it,s all over the place.

Ava: Where is it? Show me. Tell me. Where?

Sonia and Shireen: In Sura e Nisa.

Ava: I knew it! I knew it! You guys are so damn predictable.

Women, in the section labeled women. you bloody affirmative action

freak heads! Turns out gals, no. Not a word about any hijab, a whole lot

about sowing fields and guess what them fields are… us, us

being the fields, but not a word about the hijab action. And by the way while I'm at it, that business about

two women equal to one man is also bullshit. One reference only in the Koran under a business

transaction only, again contextual because women didn’t deal with

financial matters in those days.

Kulsum: Oh no you don't! Caught you! His wife Khadija was a

business woman!

Sonia: Yeah, but she did hire him to take care of her financial

matters! Okay, so we've come a long way baby.

Ava: Exactly and again contextual. Although I wish we could be

more like her. A forty-year-old marrying a 29-year-old guy and doing

the proposing as well. Talk about a woman of the 21st century. You go

gal. Love that gal.

Kulsum: Sonia learn something!

Sonia: If she were here, she'd be one of us! And Kulsum, do you

think she was in a hijab when she did that? If she were here, I tell you,

she'd be like usl

Shireen: Stuck in traffic on the Triboro, after closing a fabulous


Sonia: Meeting Mohammad on

Kulsum, Shireen, Ava: Toba, toba, god forbid.

Kulsum: Really Sonia!

Ava: I think she'd be sitting here sipping caffe latte, sitting here with

me. She'd be the head of some corporation and right now would be

appreciating the great abs that just walked by. Mmm-Mmm-Mmmm.

Lord have mercyl

Kulsum: Tooba, tooba, tooba. . .

Ava: . . . and telling Kulsum to shut up and dialing Sara to tell her to

get a life!

Sonia: Any second now we're all going to be struck down by

lightning. I can feel it.

Kulsum: Please don't blaspheme Ava!

Shireen: Han baba, please, watch it. I think lightning travels and I

certainly don't want to be zapped for you having a mouth on you.

Ava: Honestly. You guys are too much. Sara and her vacousness

seems like holy devotion to you, while what I say is blasphemy!

Kulsum: She prays.

Ava: How the hell do you know what I do?

Sonia: Yeah Kulsum, Sara is not the only one who prays you know.

She may be the only one who manages to be such a conspicuous


Shireen:Yadan Aiyan, aiyan, loki panjwaley, usan her waley, yadan

aiyan, aiyan. I remember you, everyone else remembers at allotted

times, five times a day, me I remember you all the time.

Ava: Well sung darling.

Kulsum: Okay, everyone, bye.

Sonia: Ciao.

Shireen: Later.

Ava: Hasta Ia vista babes.

Sonia: Stay on the line Ava. I want to talk to you.

Ava: Okay. Look I'll call you right back okay. Bye everyone.

Sonia: Okay. Bye everyone.

Ava: Hi, it's me.

Sonia: You sound much better. Are you?

Ava: Yeah, I guess I'm much better. You haven't told anyone, have you?

Sonia: No, of course I haven't. But are you okay?

Ava: Well you can't really feel sympathy for me can you?,.

Sonia: You went into this knowing the full picture.

Ava: Yes. I place bets with myself that I'll hear from him the

moment the weekend ends and he gets back to work. And so far I'm

winning my own bet. I'm just one of his bad travel habits: cigarettes,

quick gulp downs of bloody Marys; surfing the cable channels


Sonia: Ava, listen to me you can't possibly be thinking of

continuing this. There is nothing in this for you. What are you trying to

do Ava? Why are you bent on hurting yourself like this?

Ava: I am amused that he now wants to be friends. Now that he has

declared me a friend, does that mean I fall into the waste bin? His

calling me a dear friend, I wonder why that makes me wince?

Sonia: Ava, what's the point? You knew there was an end as you

were going into it in t}le first place.

Ava: I just don't get this. What an asshole. What a user!

Sonia: Look, leave it for what it was. Don't demonize him. you

were both in this. Just leave it.

Ava: I can't. I can't disengage that way. What have I done here? There’s

no recognition of me. I need some recognition from him that this meant

something to him. I feel like I'm walking in a silent invisible form.

Sonia: What is it that you wanted? What is it that you expected? He

was going to leave you. You knew that going in. He told you that straight

off the first time. You know the 6rst thing men say is usually honest and


Ava: To not be acknowledged, that's what hurts. I've got to at least

say this to him.

Sonia: No! Let go please. You've had two weeks of a break and he hasn't communicated with you during

this whole time, so why even think of starting again?

Ava: No point there. I tested the hypothesis, and it tested

positive. Pursuit, conquer, demolish, move on' All this is so pointless!


Sonia: No, you needed to get that out o[your system' It's done! Not pointless for that Purpose.

Pointless if you do anything more!

Ava: So for him it was just a continuation in a way of the big

acquisition battle. So this must have been war all along? I wonder' I'm

trying to wonder if he really did consider me the adversary all

along. That it was him who had me pegged for the other' the one that needed to be defeated. I

was the one who wanted to be a friend. I said that, we could be friends. He was so bent on


Sonia: Be honest with yourself, Ava. You were doing the same thing

as well! It was that whole merger thing.

Ava: But for him, wanting me translated into destroying and

conquering, unraveling and unpacking. I even said that to him' don't

unpack me, don't unravel me. But he wouldn't listen, just focused on

wanting. How strange indeed that he should think that since now that

he no longer values, no longer cherishes, he can be a “dear friend”. Now

that the demolishing is done that he should think he could be a “dear

friend.” How does that work? It makes Iife like being at war. At war like

this, engaging only to destroy, viewing the other as a danger, always

despising the other as an enemy? Only able to deal with people on the

basis of demolishing them?

Sonia: Ava, all you are doing is validating all the worst notions

about yourself to yourself. Thinking his thoughts for him' Thinking

everyone's thoughts for them. Validating your suspicions'

Ava: I get that from my therapist. I don't need that from you!

Sonia: Ava, it's true. This is one more reason for you to continue to

be angry with yourself, with everyone! To remain an outsider; remain

as cynical. He acted as you feared he would. And you acted as

you feared you would.

Ava: And Your Point is?

Sonia: Break this cycle you're in. Ava, is this helping at all? Promise

me you are not going to call him again!

Ava: It's over. Don't worry. I'm done.

Sonia; Promise.

Ava: Khuda ki Kasum. Okay?

Sonia: Okay, Ava, okay.

Ava: You have to admit though, Riaz bhai married Sara. She’s lucky.

Okay, she's his fourth wife. But he married her.

Sonia: Ava!

Ava: I'll give her that. I'll give him that.

Sonia: You're sounding totally ridiculous.

Ava: Perhaps.

Sonia: Trust me. Try it!

Ava: Don't be ridiculous!

More Writing by Maniza Naqvi