Muniba Mazari- I had not heard of the name till a friend of mine shared a TED talk. One reason for such ignorance is definitely my laziness and lack of knowledge regarding most things while another reason can be that the news from the bad neighbor Pakistan is hardly our national staple.
At the age of 21, when Muniba was travelling to her hometown Rahim-yar-Khan, she met with a fatal accident, the car had rolled to a ditch as the driver dozed off, that broke almost half her bones. Finding no ambulance in Baluchistan, she had to be taken to a hospital in a Pontiac. The first hospital refused her as they had no first aid and then she was taken to another hospital where the doctors didn’t have the infrastructure to operate upon such multiple injuries. Then after a painful stay for about two and a half months in a hospital in Karachi, she came home to be bed-ridden for the next two years!
Muniba didn’t mince words to express that agonizing period of her life;the desertion by the closest people, the mental pain and the physical injury. Despite all these, she survived and not just survived, she lived. Now she paints and she told that painting kept her alive in those darkest times.Then for financial independence, she started content writing and then she climbed the steps of success to become the first Pakistani model on wheelchair for brands like Tony and Guy. Her face gleamed as she shared how she rebuilt her life. Her optimism is infectious and inspiring. We feel nothing can stop us and she does say that nothing can stop us, and we cheer.
Muniba went ahead and told that those to feel caged and blame the society and system for not being able to live their life as they should have, were just making excuses for their inability to overcome the difficulties. If she could live inspite of multiple fractures in her spine, collarbone, ribcages, then anyone can overcome their difficulties.And it is here, I pause. No, Muniba, all cannot overcome their difficulties.
What if Muniba didnot know how to paint?What if Muniba didnot have the money to get treated in a hospital in Karachi?What would she do then? If those terrible terrible two and a half months had to be spent in a general ward of a government hospital, would she be able to paint those wonderful paintings then? If Muniba were not surrounded by bouquets of flowers bearing messages “Get well soon” and instead had to look helplessly as flies would buzz around her wounds, would she still have the insane mental determination that made her come out victorious?
Muniba now models for Tony and Guy, she is one of the fortunate Ponds’ Miracle Woman. Miracle indeed she is, to win the battle that chance made her fight and very few can do what she did. But would Tony and Guy still cast her if she wasn’t as beautiful, let us say she was one of the dark skinned Gond lady from India or a burqa clad child bride from a village in Pakistan.
When Muniba told that one should not blame the system or one’s fate for not being a survivor as she is, she forgets that the same system has provided her with the basic conditions by virtue of her birth that made her Muniba Mazari with a wikipedia page. And we all, who are beneficiaries of such conditions, do not realize the benefit of being in the affluent side of biological accident.
I, sitting in an Indian Institute of Technology, do not have a right to tell that the poor girl Chattishgarh is not here because she is not intelligent or has not tried hard enough.She is not here because We have robbed her the right to primary education. And on that deprivation we are building the mansion of middle-class dreams.We cannot ask for the scrapping of caste based reservation in India because in Tamil Nadu, in Hyderabad we are silently killing Rohit Vemullas. We kill them for their opinions, we kill them for their marriages, we kill them because we feel they do not matter to us. And this murder comes to naturally to us that we don’t even recognize ourselves in the milieu of killers.
We denigrate Bangladesh, disparaging Pakistan has become ablutions for our souls, which we claim to have. But when thousands of our fellow citizens are pushed into detention camps along the eastern border of India, we do not flinch. When a son commits suicide because he failed to save his mother from being ripped of her citizenship, we are not moved because we have the 12 digit ‘Legacy’ data that ensures our citizenship in India. Deaths do not touch us. The naked procession in Manipur doesnt perturb us because we donot stay in a place infested with the Army.That is why AFSPA is irrelevant to us, we forget Manorama, we forget Kunan Poshpora.
Our parents hoped “amar sontan jeno thake dudhey bhaate”, may nothing be wanting for my child. Nothing is wanting for us except the conscience that tells us that our food often comes from those who make millions starve somewhere, all that we claim as ours is often wrongfully snatched from others who right now are dying, somewhere and we are complicit in those killings. What we take as our rights are privileges for most and we cannot forget that.
While we commend Muniba, we should for once atleast, pause and ask what happened to the driver of her car.