Tehmina Durrani: ‘My family disowned me for 13 years’

Published: February 25, 2013
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“For me blasphemy is when the word of God and the teachings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) are distorted. What could be more blasphemous than that?” asked Durrani.

“For me blasphemy is when the word of God and the teachings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) are distorted. What could be more blasphemous than that?” asked Durrani.

LAHORE: 

“Much as people think I wrote [My Feudal Lord] out of vengeance, I actually wrote it [for myself] to understand what had actually happened to me. It is not just about me. It is a universal story …about the struggle and abuse women face”.

Tehmina Durrani, author of My Feudal Lord (1991), which speaks of an abusive marriage to a former governor and chief minister of the Punjab, was speaking on the last day of the Lahore Literary Festival, first public appearance in 12 years.

As Nusrat Jamil, a member of the LLF advisory board and a close friend of Durrani, introduced the writer, the audience were still pouring in.

“I cannot tell you how touched I am by your enthusiasm. Today is a very memorable day. I have stepped out in public after 12 years,” Durrani said and the audience broke into applause. Speaking about sharing personal trials and tribulations, Durrani said she couldn’t hold back. “I just had to tell my story,” she said, “It was an honest outburst”. Some 10 minutes into the session, she was interrupted by a commotion outside the hall by people who were not being allowed to enter.

Durrani said there were consequences she had to face following the publication of the book.  “It was traumatic to be all alone with a story like My Feudal Lord,” she said.

She said that her family had disowned her for 13 years. She said the women of her family – close and extended – were forbidden from meeting her, making her “uncomfortable with people” for a very long time.

“They would say no one would marry their daughters [if they met me]. I said no one should marry my daughters if they thought that breaking the silence was wrong,” she said to loud applause.

About sharing her experience of physical abuse by her former husband, she said it was very “shameful” feeling.

“I remember covering those scars because you just don’t want to let people know what you are going through.”

Durrani is also the author of Abdul Sattar Edhi’s biography. She called writing it an “empowering opportunity”.

“I think the biography is the most powerful piece of writing I have done so far.”

Speaking about her book Blasphemy (1998)– a fiction narrating a woman’s tale of hardships- Durrani said she wrote about the system, something she couldn’t in her previous book.

“For me blasphemy is when the word of God and the teachings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) are distorted. What could be more blasphemous than that?” she asked.

She later talked about writing her new book Happy Things in Sorrow Times, expected to be launched at Alhamra on March 9. The book she has illustrated herself was inspired by what she said was one of the happiest times of her life.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 25th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • sana
    Feb 25, 2013 - 12:04PM

    “My Feudal Lord” is a very dark and insightful book . I don’t know if something like that happened with me would i have been able to take bold steps which Tehmina took?.. I salute her for stepping out amidst the hypocrisy and negativity surrounding her..

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  • Owais
    Feb 25, 2013 - 7:37PM

    Seems inspiring…im definitely gonna read her books..

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  • ss
    Mar 3, 2013 - 7:21PM

    one of a very few books that i finished in just two days,
    God bless you brave lady.

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  • Faqir Ipi
    Mar 3, 2013 - 9:28PM

    All those at Lahore Literary Festival will not try to listen and understand nobodies from Waziristan. Because such stories and ideas of Waziristan genocide, plight,carnage are from the last century, which does not have any meaning in overall global imperial project and war profiteers agenda. Without realizing the horror of the old, women, sick and kids and all those innocent living under drones 24/7, have no forum, no festivals, no platform to speak about their genocide. There is no human rights outcry, NGOs, civil society, media, state to acknowledge their sufferings. Just horrible silence for more than a decade.

    Our human rights, NGOs, civil society, media, state listen, discuss and promote only those thinkers, writers, ideas, stories like Malala, Hazara, Mukhtaran Mai, Tehmina Durrani who serve them, war profiteers and global imperial agenda well.

    Our elite, celebrity, intellectuals endorse minds that hail from their own class. And, if nothing else, one at least needs to have thousands of followers online in order to be seen as an author worth reading. Poor man, woman, children, weak, old are dieing for more than 10 years, without even knowing the ‘revolutionary wonders’ of the social media.

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  • Asif Nawaz
    Mar 4, 2013 - 11:23AM

    “Speaking about her book Blasphemy (1998)– a fiction narrating a woman’s tale of hardships- Durrani said she wrote about the system, something she couldn’t in her previous book.”
    But its a factual story as written in the book. I am confused.

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  • Faisal
    Mar 5, 2013 - 12:13AM

    Dear Faqir ipi, the drones r very surgical and mostly target militants. And its war. People there want to fight and they support taliban not because of islam but because of ethnic affiliation. And they r reaping consequences. We relate with My Feudal Lord not because it happened to Tehmina but because it happens to so many women. She raised a voice against evil. So did Malala. Have u asked the taliban to stop bombing, to stop killing shias and to stop destroying school?

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  • Ali
    Mar 5, 2013 - 3:34PM

    @Faqir of ipi

    This should serve as a great lesson for us all. As the old saying goes “As you sow, so shall you reap”

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  • gp65
    Mar 5, 2013 - 9:52PM

    Respect. I will try to get her book and read it.

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  • WB
    Mar 6, 2013 - 1:09PM

    @Faisal: “surgical strikes”?? When did u last visited SW after a drone strike?? What u are saying is the CIA version, the same guys who said Iraq had WMDs, if u believe them then good luck! Also SW has women too, what about their plight? Maybe they don’t speak punjabi so who cares, right?

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