Let's give Shaista Wahidi a break
They called her appearance on Geo a 'big drama' and accused her of seeking publicity when she spoke of her divorce.
Shaista Wahidi, sometimes referred to as Dr Shaista or Shaista Lodhi is Sahir Lodhi’s sister. The brother-sister duo have a way of ruffling both the wrong feathers and the right ones; they can be called 'famous' or 'infamous'.
Shaista is one of Pakistani television’s most known faces. People have loved her and have been irritated by her simultaneously, but have not been able to ignore her. We have talked about her antics, her typical laughter in which she covers her face with her hand, her metamorphosis in how her face looks and have broken her down multiple times.
One of the most consistent faces on the mini screen, she disappeared for a few months, only to appear again on a promo the night before her re-venturing on Geo's morning show. While Shaista looked the same, perhaps a bit slimmer than usual (which has also been inviting speculation), something about her had changed. Skimming through channels, once I caught sight of her on this show, I couldn't change the channel. While it was very obviously a promo show meant to create hype of her return to the mega screen, parts were real – one could see a real person beneath the glamour.
She was asked about what she did in this hiatus of a few months and she confessed to having re-discovered her faith and religion, of having started to enjoy her namaz. She said she had found what she took too long to discover. She was moved to tears, almost choking, as she shared how she had discovered realities of faith. An almost worried Ahsan Khan hosting the show called for a break.
For those who still wondered, Shaista confirmed that she was no longer married to the father of her children. She said as to 'why' the marriage didn't last, this was her personal business but maintained that her children’s father is a “very good father” and that she didn’t intend on bad-mouthing him on TV.
(Shaista with her children. PHOTO: PUBLICITY)
And this is the point where this blog needed to be written.
Here was a woman going through what was very clearly a tough time in her life. She paid the price for being a celebrity and gracefully handled the questions, rather than pretending that this chapter never happened in her life.
Yet, in a very typical voyeuristic pattern, while people devoured the air time and watched Shaista carefully on the show, social media in the following hours started showing comments in which everybody thought all she did was “a big drama”. Sadly, when it comes to celebrities, we are mind-readers, clairvoyants and know-it-alls.
Being a woman and a mother, I know what a soft spot children hold in a parent's heart. I believe that people suggesting that Shaista was using her divorce and children to gain publicity was callous. Why do we assume the worst of celebrities, it baffles me.
Others were upset as to why she talked about her divorce on television. "How low can these celebrities go for fame?” they were asking on social media.
(Shaista Lodhi with her husband before they got divorced. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT)
I am not trying to be the devil’s advocate, but simply in the spirit of empathy, I imagined what any woman would do in her situation.
In a live television show, with live calls from the viewership, any and every kind of question can be asked. A media person in her position does not have the liberty of pretending that something never happened; she has to face what happened and be answerable even in the most intimate matters of her life.
That must be tough.
Ironically, one of the most difficult things for a woman to live up to is divorce in our society, and playing directly in to this statement was peoples' response on Shaista's divorce.
On Shaista finding solace in God, there were crude prophecies that “Shaista will play her religion card in the upcoming Ramadan. It is a publicity gimmick!”.
It is also not easy for people here to accept that one is drawn towards religion. A backlash starts, in which a person is placed under a microscope, in which perfection is expected. Celebrities who have begun to tilt towards religion have had a tough time in our society. Ironically, those very people who feel as though religious people are too judgmental are quick to judge those who as much as mention a connection with God.
But for me the saddest part is how bitter and mistrusting we have become. Celebrity or not, we no longer take people at face value and assume negative intentions on the part of others. We call it realism.
We call believing what people say naivety.
This is surprising when we are all too willing to wipe a tear on listening to celebrities talk their hearts out on Oprah, but we seem to just scoff and mock when those closer to home do the same.
Dr Shaista is not known to me and I am not particularly a fan of the woman, but she is a woman on a journey like all of us and has had some ups and downs in her life. It is not my place to decide whether her decisions were right or wrong, nor can I say with surety what is in her heart. All I can do is wish her the best of luck, and get on with my life.
Shouldn't we all do the same?
What will we achieve from ripping her dignity to shards?
Read more by Farahnaz here or follow her on Twitter @FarahnazZahidi