LAHORE: The launch of Moneeza Hashmi’s Who Am I? was held on Thursday at the Alhamra Cultural Complex.
Who Am I? contains a string of interviews of women, from the public and the private sphere. It is an attempt to bring to the fore-untold stories and silenced voices of women from different parts of Pakistan. “That silent voice speaks louder than all other voices that we’re going to hear today,” one of the speakers said during the book launch, while it was told to the audience that the featured interviews do not include and thereby represent any women from Balochistan.
Excerpts from some of the interviews were read out at the book launch. Some of these included interviews with Bapsi Sidhwa, Swaran Lata and Benazir Bhutto.
“Sometimes, its images I see, while other times, its stories that I have read,” Bapsi Sidhwa says in her interview. She talks about storytelling and the need to tell stories that are already there. In her words, her writing is about adding glamour to ordinary stories of ordinary lives. For example, she mentions her book, The Bride which she thinks is the story of every girl in Pakistan. She also talked about her novel, The Croweaters which revolves around the Parsi community. “We Parsis are an endangered community, I want to preserve the charm and humour of the Parsis,” says Bapsi.
Benazir Bhutto’s interview discusses on length about women empowerment. In the words of Benazir, women in Pakistan are not like women in the Arab world, “we’re not restricted, we are not trapped”. “This is a false concept,” she says. She also talks about the right of women to their earnings, which she sadly adds in her interview is a right given to the women in Pakistan by their religion but is unfortunately taken away from them by the very men of their family.
Zehra Nigah, Mustannsar Hussain Tarar, Salima Hashmi and Adeel Hashmi also spoke during the book launch. Adeel Hashmi quoted a beautiful verse, which Faiz wrote on the insistence of Moneeza Hashmi. The poem talks about women. The book launch ended with book signing by the author, Moneeza Hashmi.