Honour: Does It Exist?

A great article my brilliant husband, Abaseen, just wrote recently. Please read and reflect.


We call ourselves people of “nang ow namos” (honour and esteem), and if you want to see how nangiyaal (honourable) we are then you should visit our local bazaars. YES! that’s where WE Pakhtun men walk with our chest high, often with our .32 caliber guns or AK47s hanging from our shoulders.

Our reality lies not on those high mountains, nor in the beautiful lakes, nor in the sounds of the Rabab with a bonfire and young men performing attanr, but within these crowded bazaars; a rigid reality to which even we are blind. If you gaze down from our pakols(hats) to our saplay(slippers), our reality will hit you in the face on these streets of our local bazaars.

A woman in a burqa.
Sitting on a dusty pavement.
A hungry child, sleeping in her lap.’
Exposing only her wrinkled hand through the burqa with a begging gesture.
Her head tilted to the right, she has lost the battle of life.

Most of us will claim that the bazaar is no place for women, and if they must come then they must be invisible in a burqa, but what we mean to say is that it is no place for women who are better than us; but if in misery, we accept them as a showpiece in a place where we walk so high and mighty. We walk past these women as if they don’t exist but we are aware of their existence. It’s our way of assuring ourselves that we are better than them and that those women we take care of are not on the street because our presence in their lives made a difference. The tragedy is that for us honour lies in taking lives, not in making lives better.


7 responses to “Honour: Does It Exist?

  1. I have got to share this on POW, it is very deep and so very true! How thoughtfull and well written. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much, Anonymous! It IS a very excellent piece! My husband shared it with me and I was like, “OMG, I’ve got to share this brilliance on my blog!” You see, he is extremely pro-women, and when we went to KPK recently, I could tell he was very disturbed whenever we went to the bazaars. We’d often see these women beggars, and it would just deeply disturb us. I remember how depressed I’d always be each time we’d come across these women beggars. So, I guess that inspired him to finally get the courage to write this piece. It’s a very heavy topic and there is lots to say, so maybe, once I get some time to blog properly, I’ll further elaborate on this topic. 🙂 Thanks for your thoughtful comment, and I’d love to read you again.

  2. Wow, I am so glad I came across this blog.-via POW. This is very distrubing. These men may think they have honor, but walking these streets and turning their heads away from these women is dishonorable.

    • Aww, I’m really glad you did as it’s always such a pleasure meeting people like you who share the same thoughts and feelings, especially when it comes to the mistreatment of women.

      Well, honestly, I now wonder what “honour” even means anymore. One one hand, these men claim that they would do anything for their women, perhaps even kill! And most simply hide these women, in these despicable burkas, so that pradee (other) men won’t look/gawk at them. But then, you see these poor, destitute women in bazaars, either sitting helplessly and begging for money/support, or coming to your car and knocking on your window to help them, or give them money. Seriously, it is such a depressing sight. It truly breaks my heart. 😦

      • I think the biggest fact about we (Pushtoons) is that we hide realities n this is probably the biggest reality we never wanna expose. I think we r more culture bound than probably religion etc… But the religion factor can also be not concealed at times. The difficult thing for us is to match the religious values with our cultural or behavioral values. We r more biased towards culture of most of the occasions… Thanks
        Dr. Bilal Afridi
        @DrBKafridi (Twitter)

  3. Bijli Gar Moola lives in Peshawar. He and his disciples often expresses their displeasure over women coming to Bazaars to shop. I wonder if he knows about it. Probably she is the widow of a Taliban fighter, or someone who died while fighting against the Taliban, perhaps someone who died in a fire fight between the Army and taliban, or someone who died in one of many suicide attacks. Our(our?) Mullahs never seem to get tired of how our Palestinian and Kashmiri sisters are being treated. I always wonder when are they going to think of these women living in misery right outside the mosques where these Mullah deliver their lofty sermons!

  4. I find that honour is fast disapearing in all walks of life as for esteem, well that must be painful, conjuring up images of broiling in the vapour of ones own arrogance and others adoration.

    In my eyes true honour is to be vulnerable, open and good.

    Many appear to find a false honour in through expediency, a cause, a single action or profit.

    I think that honour is a personal code of ethics and principle and not the false honour bestowed by others to people such as celebrity, religeous leader or politician.

    To me honour embraces both good and the bad, turn your head at ones own peril. Shame, I feel, causes blindness and damages both the heart and mind.

    Dishonourable people may have a second chance, their children’s sense of honour if allowed to remain pure.

    Once lost can one regain honour?

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