notes on collective and personal exhaustion, and the fear of return

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Meena Kumari in Kaajal, dir. Ram Maheshwari (1965)

“But when the case for a woman’s worth is built partly on the unfairness of what’s leveled at her, things get slippery, especially as the internet expands the range and reach of hate and unfair scrutiny into infinity — a fact that holds even as feminist ideas become mainstream. Every…


Just a warning: I talk about childhood sexual abuse, disordered eating, and gender-based violence.

Ben Crouse

“And then the occasion arose when I had to meet the white man’s eyes. An unfamiliar weight burdened on me. The real world challenged my claims. In the white world the man of colour encounters difficulties…


I grew up between Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, a common rite of passage for many South Asian families in search of a “better life”, between home and a place that is similar — yet not quite.

You’re not an immigrant, nor will you ever be a citizen; even…


♫ MJRH (Lifafa)

Devdas (1955) directed by Bimal Roy

Most people make me anxious. I remember the first time I, a hopeful and optimistic teenager, began recognizing what I referred to as adult “weirdness”: the obvious projection of people’s shadows. As a child, I would frantically and unashamedly call my mother multiple times from our landline…


Shame and violence are natural emotions that have always gone hand-in-hand. Nearly two decades ago, as a young child, I recall the first time I witnessed and learned how shame manifests into violence, in the physical and verbal abuse my father would impose upon my mother. (My father would impose…


“The East offering its riches to Britannia” by Spiridione Roma. via The British Library.

I’ve been privileged enough to reside outside of Pakistan, roughly maintaining the same standard of living in my other two places of residence, Dubai and Toronto, complete with childhood summer vacations in Europe. I belonged to a very small percentage of Pakistanis who grew up with the privilege of Westernization…


When I was a kid, I loved going grocery shopping with my mother.

We’d excitedly peruse the large grocery store Carrefour in Dubai, but eventually, at some point, we’d both be distracted and separate. And whenever I’d realize she wasn’t nearby, I’d frantically begin searching for her. I was extremely…


I was born in Islamabad, the federal capital of Pakistan, and returned to live there from 2003 to 2010 — i.e., during the most sensitive period the capital has recently experienced, due to the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) siege, a confrontation between Islamic fundamentalist militants (Pakistani Taliban) and the Pakistani…

Zahra Haider

Toronto-based Pakistani-Canadian writer and comedian. I explore issues of gendered violence and women’s trauma in South Asia.

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