Among us lives a boy. A boy not quite like you and me. Let me tell you a little something about this little boy. His name is Ahmed and he lives in the same city as we do, just that he comes from an area that you and I have probably never visited.
Ahmed was born in Machar Colony. He was one of 8 siblings who lived with their mother and father in a tiny little shack. He was a good boy, Ahmed. He did what he was told, helped out around the house whenever and wherever he could. The family was always struggling with resources. Money was always scarce and there was never really enough to eat. On top of that their father was a drug addict who would snatch away all the elder siblings’ earnings and gamble with it. If they would refuse to give it, he would beat them up.
At the age of ten, Ahmed realized that it wouldn’t even matter to his family if one day, he were to not return home. That day, he hitched a ride with a truck driver and headed towards the main city in hopes of finding a better lifestyle. The prospects of the city looked good. First day on the job, thanks to his innocent face, he collected a decent sum of coins cleaning cars. To use up his earnings he went to a chai ka dhabba where he met the owner who offered him a job as a waiter in exchange for a place to stay and sleep at night. Ahmed remembers being happy for the way things had worked out for him. If only, poor Ahmed knew what was in store for him.
One dreadful night, he was woken up from his sleep by his employer who took him to his room and started touching him, touching him in places that made him feel very uncomfortable. When he resisted, the employer became forceful. He slapped him and continued to torture him. Ahmed screamed and shouted but there was no one to hear him, to save him from this horrifying monster. He kept screaming while his master kept on laughing. When he was done, he handed over a 50 Rupee note saying “kaam aaye ga”
Since then, different men of all shapes and sizes started coming every night. There was nothing he could. There was nowhere he could go. Ahmed suffered in silence.
One day, he narrated his story to a customer at the dhabba who sympathized with him. The customer went and told the police. The police raided the dhabba and tried to take the boy into custody. Master defended himself by saying “yeh bachey koi ghlat kaam nahi kartey. Yeh tu seedhi saadhi tanka wali naukri kartey hain. Janab, mein Allah say darta hoon. Aap jo ilzaam laga rahey hain, yeh tu bura kaam hai jee. Tauba tauba, mein aisa kaam nahi karta". The police men however, were determined to take the boy with them but it only took a few red notes from under the table to make them change their mind. And so Ahmed found himself back at square 1.
Then one day he decided to run away. But that didn’t get him anywhere. Now he was out of money. He resorted to hunting through trash and begging on the streets. With his face blackened with filth, he stood on the roads with his hands held out… but people simply passed by. It was as if he were a permanent fixture of the area. So accustomed were people to seeing him that they didn’t even realize that this was a human being that they were passing by. Whether he was there, or not there… people didn’t care. He was just not important enough. Life went on!
On the streets, he met a few more boys like him. He started residing with them in the backstreets of busy bazaars, permeated by the stench of urine. They would huddle together in groups of 8 – 10 for warmth and security at night. With these boys, he found himself getting involved in drugs. He would sniff glue to numb his pains. To make ends meet, he would occasionally pick peoples pockets.
When that didn’t work out for him either, he turned to the one way of earning that he knew would not let him down. Earlier he was raped, now he sells himself for real, offering to give a “massage” a euphemism for sex. When asked he says, “Dard tu hota hai. Sharam bhi aati hai. Magar, paisa buhat hai! Ab tu meri behnein bhi school jati hain. Meri maa, buhat khush hai”
My name is Ajlaan Raza and I am GAY. *Smile* I am kidding. Looking at the shocked expressions on your faces some of which were turning into disgust… I can easily gauge your opinions about homosexuality. And I thought I could talk to you about homophobia. Homophobia is defined as an irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuals. Every friend gathering you sit in, you realize that gay guys are the objects of ridicule. Everything and anything you don’t like is oh-so-Gay.
Unfortunately, the term “gay” and everything associated with it has developed a very negative connotation in our society. If we were to find out someone is gay, for example, Abid Ali Shahid, we would make our best effort to make his life completely miserable. We would call him names, we would ostracize him and leave him as an outcast. Many homosexuals who have openly declared themselves as being gay become victims of hate crimes, where they are bashed by a single person or a group of people for no apparent reason except for being just a little different than what is "considered normal". Even family and friends, upon finding out someone is gay, break all ties with that same person who was until the previous moment considered a son, a brother, a friend. The person and all his good qualities are forgotten, and all that matters now is his sexuality.
In many countries, homosexuality is punishable by law. Iran holds a record of executing over 4000 homosexuals. These people are treated this way because the majority considers homosexual behavior as wrong. They are treated as completely different beings. Someone with no rights. Not even the right to live. People need to realize that just because someone is gay does *emphasis* in no way mean that he is any different from you. Gay people have the exact same anatomy, feelings and emotions as anyone else. It is just that they are a little different when it comes to rules of attraction.
Many would call it a defect. But then if it is a defect, it is not in the hands of the defected, is it? There are many scientific theories floating around pertaining to what is the cause of homosexuality depending on the personal views of their authors. But… none of them suggest that sexuality is determined by choice. Ask a gay man and he’ll tell you that he’s not gay by choice. It is just the way things have always been. All his life he has never been attracted to a woman. Just as a person cannot help being black, female or Asian or even left handed, one cannot help being homosexual. If he were given the choice of being gay or straight, he would want to be straight. After all, who in their right mind would choose to be discriminated against in society?
And then, there are some really stupid people who argue that homosexuality is a mental disorder. If you are one of them, its time you woke up because since 1973, homosexuality has been removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This indicates that people with this condition are not suitable for therapy and there happens to be NO cure for homosexuality.
Just the other day, I was talking to some friends of mine and I was surprised to hear one of them say that homosexuality is a western phenomenon and emphasizing that it does not exist in our part of the world. Maybe they feel that it’s a product of the freedom that exists in that society… that allows people to cross all sorts of boundaries. And maybe that is why they feel it is okay to make fun of people who might be or act gay. Allow me to make a clarification at this point. There are gay people everywhere and in no way is their existence a recent phenomenon. It would be wrong to suggest that the number of homosexuals in Pakistan is lesser than that in America. The percentage remains more or less the same. It is just that here they don’t come out of the closet. Instead, their interaction takes place through social networks. The internet has made it easier for homosexuals to increase their social networks. You all know Orkut and Facebook. I am sure a few of the guys must have had some guy scrapping you to *hand gesture: inverted commas* make friendship with you. There are a lot of other online social networks specifically targeted towards the GBLT (Gay, Bi, Lesbian & Transsexual) community. There you’ll find thousands of active gay members from Pakistan, and million others from non-gay countries like India and the Middle East as well as almost every other country in the world. And these will just be statistics of urban cities. You don’t know them because they don’t go around telling people about their sexuality because they are too afraid of being exiled from their communities and being abandoned by their families or worse… being hanged or stoned to death. Hence most people either repress their homosexuality or end up getting married mostly due to family pressure and continue living secret double lives.
The biggest barrier for homosexuals in openly expressing themselves is perhaps religion. Whenever the subject is brought up, a Quranic verse regarding the “qaum of Hazrat Lut (AS)” is thrown in and the matter is closed without any question. I would like to read out the translation of the verse by Yousuf Ali.
We also (sent) Lut: He said to his people: "Do ye commit lewdness such as no people in creation (ever) committed before you? For ye practise your lusts on men in preference to women : ye are indeed a people transgressing beyond bounds." And his people gave no answer but this: they said, "Drive them out of your city: these are indeed men who want to be clean and pure!" But we saved him and his family, except his wife: she was of those who lagged behind. And we rained down on them a shower (of brimstone): Then see what was the end of those who indulged in sin and crime!”[7:80–84 (Translated by Yusuf Ali)]
The Quran is subject to interpretation and people tend to interpret verses according to their already held beliefs. Yes the storm did come and the people were destroyed. But if you read the complete story, you’ll get to know that the people of Hazrat Lut (AS) already had wives, yet they used to go around having sex with young boys, mostly raping them. Rape under no law is acceptable. In addition, every translation I read used the word “lust” instead of “love” to describe the actions of people of Hazrat Lut (AS). So it is possible… and i'm not saying that it is… all I’m saying is that it is possible that homosexuality is not the only reason the storm came.
However my argument is not whether homosexuality is right or wrong. All I’m asking here is to recognize their existence. They are here among us and are part of our society. They don’t tell us because they are scared that if they do, our attitudes towards them will change even though there is no reason for it to. Why should we be affected by something that doesn’t even concern us? By not recognizing them, we take away their right to be honest. We force them to lie about who they really are.
And in that same discussion with my friends that I talked about earlier regarding the matter, another point that was… if homosexuality was declared legal, it would mean that we are preaching it. My friend felt that it will cause more people to become gay and the world would start coming to an end. True. All the people who are living a lie just might start declaring themselves as homosexuals. But frankly speaking, I consider the idea to be quite absurd. You don’t become gay just because people around you are gay. You won’t, because you are simply not attracted to members of the same sex. Like I said, it is completely legal to be left handed… and I don’t see many people claiming to be left handed even if they are, in fact, right handed. :)
Quite recently, a live telephone caller asked Mr. Ghamdi, a well known Islamic scholar on his TV program what Islam has against homosexuals and why their behavior is not permissible as long as it does not hurt anyone? Mr. Gamdhi’s only reply was that homosexuality would break the foundation of family structure. He said that a child cannot be brought up nicely without the love and affection of both male and female parents. Well, my response to his statement is, “Are single parents incapable of rearing good human beings? And if they are capable, then what is the problem with homosexual couples where there are two people willing to give a child all their care and devotion. As long as two people are able to fulfill their parental duties, why should it matter if they are of the same sex?
In conclusion, all I am going to say is that there are many same sex couples who have lived together monogamously for their entire lives, cared for each other, shared each others joys and sorrows and stood by each other in sickness and in health like any other straight couple. Yet we fail to recognize their union and refuse to call their love for each other, love simply because it does not fit into our set beliefs as to how love should be. Who are we to decide? Who are we to judge? Let’s just accept them as part of our society for the kind of people they are and leave the judging part up to God, shall we?
So my Lipton contact pulled through. I got the call early in the morning today. He said that the Energile people are willing to take us. In a frenzy, i took down the contact details of the brand manager, Zubair Farooq (later when i called him i got to know that his name was Umer Farrukh..*lol*)
Only catch was that they were going to take us TODAY at 3pm. This meant that we would have to bunk the 4th period (marketing) and head off to the Unilever office.
I took a good hard look at myself and realized i was wearing the most flashy t-shirt i owned complimented by a torn jeans and RED shoes. Hmmm... not my finest moment. I found myself running about not knowing what to do. I was not ready for the interview, i didnt know what i would ask, i certainly didnt look presentable. My friends calmed me down. A few minutes later i magically had a list of possible questions we could ask (Jiye Javeria!!!). Next thing i know, im at Abids place raiding his closet for formal clothing. 2 minutes later, Abid was all over me... From the vest to the shirt to the shoes to the tiny waist trousers that accentuated my butt, Abid was all over me! :)
Next stop, Faisal house... it was his turn to dress up while the rest of us tried to get some info on the brand. As soon as we were about to hit print, the light went out. No time to fix the problem, we were on a tight schedule.
Fauzan kept whining for us to stop for food, but we made sure not to give in to his innocent little being. 3:05, we were there. All 4 of us looked around the office with dreams of working here... Greater than Ever. Mr. "Umar Farrukh" turned out to be a great fellow. LUMS graduate, but cool non-the-less. Got all the info we needed with sufficient humor to go along.
Asal humor however tu tab aaya when we got out out of Unilever and found that Faisal's car had been towed away. *whoosh* (Note: We hadn't broken any law. We had paid for the parking ticket. The ticket guy was new at his job). We were running around in the heat looking for the car, back and forth, from the police chawki to the parked location of the car... untill finally Abid (pretend) lost it and started shouting at the parking ticket walas. It was actually pretty scary, and believe it or not he actually made the parking ticket walas pay 500 for the release of Faisal's car. Don't think i've ever witnessed anything of the sort before... dont think i ever will again. :P
A very unpredictable day it was today! Oh well, i guess alls well that ends well... :D
I'm sortta interning at Bulls Eye 360 for Mobilink Infinity these days, helping them sell connections to people i know. Its almost been 20 days since i started. I've managed to make 4 sales (my target for the month is 50). So when today i was called up for a "meeting", i was pretty sure they were gonna tell me to take the highway.
My heart began thumping really hard as i drove to the marketing agency. When i reached, i was told to go sit in a room upstairs. So i make my way to the room, an there are these other guys sitting there... who are also Brand Ambassadors of Infinity. So i start making conversation about number of sales everyone has made. Turns out, the guy sitting next to me has made over 30. There were 7s and 14s. and there i sat... Mr.4. Their eyes kept saying "Four?? Only?? We're so much better than you" *Oh the Shame*
I had to sit amongst those eyes for quite sometime before my boss entered. Turns out the meeting was all about training us to become better ambassadors, the problems we were having in making sales and how to tackle them.
*phew!!!*...still have my job. But for how long? thats the big question!
So Marketing was supposed to be my favorite course this semester at IBA, but things are starting to change. So, my teacher has divided the final term report into 3 parts. The first submission has already been given in. Me and my group chose Sunsip Limo Pani as our "local branded product" to do the report on. We practically worked like asses to get the first part done and we ended up with pretty decent marks. Now that the 2nd submission is due, we are told that we can no longer continue with Limo Pani coz we dont have a contact at Hilal Candy. (earlier we were under the impression that we either needed an interview with the company OR use a survey. We had used a survey to write up our analysis. Apparently thats not good enough)..... O and did i mention, we have to submit the first part all over again. So basically, we're screwed!!!
So here i was looking for a "contact" in a world full of corporate entities who love to shoo me away when i stumbled upon the brand manager of Lipton Tea who happened to be the knidest person on the planet. He asked me to write up an email on what i needed done and promised to forward it to the brand manager of Energile. (Energile and Limo Pani, both powdered drinks, should be easy to interchange). Sad part is, that he cant make contact with the Energile brand manager before Monday. Which means that the interview which if scheduled, will be after Monday. And the submission, happens to be on the Thursday the 19th. Hoping for a miracle to happen here...