Why and how Pakistani women use humour.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay 

Everything, and if not everything, then most things, are out of your fragile control.

Have you ever felt the itch to speak in a crowded room?

No, not the way you normally speak i.e. apologetic, appeasing, unsure, after a thorough spell, grammar and societal approval check in your head and each sentence dressed in piety and purity.

But the way men do, with gravity and bravado, wanting and expecting your crude word to be taken seriously, reflected on for its depth and width with sage little nods following its limp wake, even on an inane remark like the season’s mangoes weren’t ripe enough.

But you hold your peace, to keep the peace.

Have you ever felt like-screaming out loud, crying out loud, swearing out loud, whacking some misogynistic ass with a blunt or sharp object near you?


You stayed mute, kept yourself very still, sipped some scalding tea to cool your fraught nerves. And when you were able to control those wild impulses bubbling just beneath the surface of your fevered skin, went about your daily chores with a strained smile.  

The problem is we have glorified patience to such an extent that it’s become synonymous with certain people. Like womanhood.

Of course we’re allowed to speak bitter truths, it’s a sort of democracy, isn’t it? If the state knows what that means. We’re only allowed to speak them in the garb of digestible humour, with wit and winsomeness, with entertaining coquettishness, with sidelong, intoxicating, winged-eyeliner glances, so we don’t upset the precarious power balance of the sexes, even if the audience is our own sex.

Humour for us isn’t a choice, a diversion or entertainment, it’s a defence mechanism, a shield to fend off attacks and a makeshift weapon, the kind gorilla warriors use with creative flair to attack organised armies, like burning tyres and sharp disc plates.

You can tell yourselves, instead of crying in the shower, that you spoke up. You don’t have to lie awake in your bed staring up at the colossal darkness gathering up on your side of the ceiling, you can tell that darkness to scoot, find a different room and another lonely, suppressed woman, because you spoke up.  

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