‘Those Nutritious Contraceptive Pills’ by Fauzia Rafique

The above image was being safe-kept in a folder named ‘ImagesForArticles’ with over twenty others, and that folder was not to be opened till perhaps 2020- yet here it is.

Last year, i copied this image from Facebook where it was being shared by my friends from around the world as a positive intervention in favor of a woman’s right to use contraceptives, the need for women to be enlightened, and as a way to resolve poverty. I again encountered it last week, this time it was the first item in a video collection of images about ‘today’s modern society’. In that context and if taken as irony it could work but no guarantees, so I stopped and made a comment:
Me: Pertinent, except for the first item that’s racist, classist and affirms colonial perspectives.
Friend: Are you saying that those issues don’t exist today?

Source: ‘Those Nutritious Contraceptive Pills’ by Fauzia Rafique

Getting the ‘name-thing’ out of the way

The booklaunch event of my novel The Adventures of SahebaN: Biography of a Relentlessc Warrior at Renaissance Books in New Westminster was a warm and inspiring event, thanks to Lavana La Brey (for having us), Nefertiti SheLa Morrisson (for hosting), Wendy Harris (for her vision about the novel), Valerie Parks, Franci Louann, Enrico Renz, Christopher Hamilton, Ibrahim Honjo, Sana Janjua, Idrian Burgos and Randeep Purewall.

Many interesting points came out during discussion; some required more time including the one about names that had also come up at the November 20th event at VG Playroom in Surrey. It expresses the thought that there are perhaps too many unfamiliar and difficult-to-pronounce names for the reader to deal with in both my novels, and if those could be made easier or replaced with more familiar names from the same cultural context, it’ll help the reader stay with the story.

Source: Getting the ‘name-thing’ out of the way

‘All in favor of the Burqa Ban party’ by Fauzia Rafique

Those in favor of Merkel’s call for a Burqa Ban not only include the extreme right, right and center of the political spectrum but they also include a large section of white and brown feminists, leftists, atheists, and other shades of ‘progressives’. That’s a lot of my organic community coming out in support of, or not opposing, the legislated use of burqa being implemented by various conservative governments.

I am not in favor of burqa/purdah, but i’m dead against governments who are legislating or calling for a ban on it in Europe, America, Canada, Australia, and in the similar etcetras because all the burqa ban moves in these places are used to fan the ‘national security’ hysteria to take people’s attention away from the real issues of disparity and prejudice they face, and allows these governments to continue their brutal aggression and interference in various Asian and African countries. The burqa bans further stigmatize Muslim women and Islam, and, validate the undercurrent notion that the legislated removal of burqa in the ‘democratic’ societies would or could lead to the liberation of Muslim women. This is sick, and sickening.

Source: All in favor of the Burqa Ban party

‘Clear-eyed warrior friend. (gracias a la vida)’ by Sana Janjua

sana-2017in wilderness of solitude

people intellectualize: exile, poverty, torture. my friend doesn’t. for years on end, there is no sharing of personal stories that may have caused tears. in the piece i am posting below, she writes, “tears are irrelevant in this place”, when in her company i sob, incessantly, as afghanistan’s farkhanda is murdered, syria’s kurdi washes up on the coast, pakistan’s taseer takes the bullet. there are times when i just know i have to go to her, and she listens, often without looking at me.

cathartic writing is de facto primal, fauzia has always said to me, and crying adheres only to the beginning of the process of writing. crying, she doesn’t denounce, but sees as part of the process, seminal but not central. there are many people who cry as they write, and every word causes a downpour of the big wave. post-crying, the swarm of bees, references of personal associations with the subject, clear; clarity sets in; a poem/story takes off. i don’t understand what she means; i just respond to the emotion, and the sense of justice it is tied to.

then, here and there: a few stories appear: personal political, or political personal. through the apertures, i learn a thing or two about the exile, the torture, and the poverty. bereft of the lived experience, i contemplate what such terms we host in the often too intellectualized spaces really mean, and can’t get past the “factory-farmed” meanings. yet, there is no crying, just ongoing solidarity with those who we pathologize, and take pictures of, often without asking, to adorn our own sense of charity. surrey muse is un-funded, singularly imagined to create spaces for all kinds of people, especially those who don’t have a space to go to, and this is her vision; the rest of us founding members haven’t found another working formula to wrestle white privilege, and structural ghettoization* of writers of color, especially the ones fighting for the means to move to the end, any end: a small chapbook, self-published, with one’s name entering an imagined canon of sorts.

she writes, in 2015, an autobiographical story about her love for flowers, in telling a tale that is otherwise seeped in the history of violence against the people of color, and the treatment refugees receive in canada, which she ends with a comparison between herself, and a minority in Pakistan/a black man in the US/an Aboriginal female in Canada. yet again, she doesn’t cry for herself, or for others for that matter. here too, the stress is on the struggles of other people: a comparison that hierarchically puts her in a place of power, invisibilizing her own struggles, at once cognizant of her own privilege of what she can do and another can’t.

how can you cry when you write a poem on blasphemy?
or white supremacy? or religious extremism? or the duress which silences, shames, strips us of dignity? you just reveal your small brown frame, and say: i am here, like farkhanda, writing from the niche i created myself, standing amidst the surveillance points, thinking past the hallucinatory states, in clear-eyed solidarity.

i am so proud of my friend. i love her. and, i love the work she does. silently.

The link to her post:
Memory Wall on the Strip: a Mirror for the Officials of the City of Surrey

*(forgive me, if you are sensitive about the term, and see it in the exclusive framing of the african american people’s struggles, but this post is in solidarity with those struggles, and accept my gratitude for seeing it that way.)

From Sana’s facebook timeline, December 31st, 23:06.
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Writer Sonja Grgar

Sonja Grgar has had her work published in newspapers, and broadcast on the creative art programs on Kingston’s CFRC 101.9 FM Radio. A selection of Sonja’s work will be published in an Ontario based poetry and prose anthology titled “That Not Forgotten”. The anthology will be published by the North Shore Series/Hidden Brook Press, and is slated to launch in the summer/fall of this year.

Sonja has recently returned to the Lower Mainland after living in Kingston, Ontario, for over a decade. She has nurtured a passion for writing her entire life, and up until recently, has mainly explored it in the academic and journalistic settings. She is now developing her creative writing with focus on poetry, essays, and short stories.

Sonja is passionate about exploring many different creative and critical approaches to writing, and is enthusiastic about the prospect of building up her creative community in Surrey and Metro Vancouver.

View one of her recent report on a literary event:
Feb 24 Surrey Muse
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