When you think of women from Pakistan, it’s easy to think in extremes. We have two images: the woman covered from head to toe and subject to the men in her life, or the upper-class elite woman who dresses, speaks, thinks and lives exactly as she pleases.
The silent majority, however, is the woman you never learn about. She’s not in the media, she’s not a symbol of oppression; she believes in Islam as a religion of moderation, and she lives a quiet life, not necessarily one of desperation. She doesn’t have the freedom of the elite class, but nor is she devoid of all choices in her life.
Rumi is such a Pakistani woman. She comes from a mixed parentage, in the sense that her father was extremely conservative, but her mother quite liberal. Such families are the norm in Pakistan—and consequently, balanced in their outlook. The parents have to learn to compromise with each other, and can’t afford (literally) to hold on to rigid belief structures. These parents will ensure that their children follow the life lessons of Islam, but that won’t mean that their daughters won’t have careers, or won’t mingle with men, or must be fully covered if they ever leave the house.
Rumi is an architect, and circumstances have forced her to be a caregiver, a breadwinner and head of her household. Consequently, she’s independent and self-assured. Because there are social limitations for single women in Pakistan, she’s never gone club-hopping, or on a drunken binge, but she has a secure circle of friends who regularly come up with their own entertainment.
Rumi is my everywoman—the average Pakistani who never features in glossy fashion magazines or in international press releases. She’s the housewife who dreams of travelling the world, the young career woman who saves up for her own first car, the daughter who confides in her mother, the friend who’s there when you need her, and mother who dreams of greatness for her children.
Rumi could easily be you.