13 Men: Inconvenient truths

The Express Tribune: April 5, 20151… The Nirbhaya case struck a raw nerve due to the brutality of the attack and the story of a girl, Jyoti, who was working tirelessly as a medical student to pull herself and her family out of the squalor they lived in. As Sonia Faleiro notes in 13 Men, “It was easy for middle- and upper-class women to see themselves in [Jyoti].” But this story from a remote, forested corner of Birbhum district in West Bengal had another angle: “It played into Indian stereotypes about ignorant tribals and their brutal systems of justice.” It didn’t help that the Santhal tribe is traditionally insular and considers all non-tribals, even fellow Bengalis, to be ‘diku’ (outsiders) and insists on speaking Santhali, a language understood by practically no one outside their tribe. This just made the tribesmen seem even more untrustworthy — backward — as far as the media was concerned.

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Photo credit: Sonia Faleiro

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Finding Fatima: In conversation with the latest Bhutto to bring ‘Democracy’ to Pakistan

The Express Tribune: March 1, 2015

COVER FB

I first met Fatima Bhutto the day a small heart-shaped icon blinked on my phone’s screen, informing me that ‘fbhutto’ had liked one of my photographs on Instagram. And then on February 13th, a few hours before her latest work, a short story called Democracy, was released online, Fatima invited me to her home.

It felt impossible that we would not to talk about politics. On the way to 70 Clifton, I drove past graffiti that pleaded, “Fatima, you are our only hope”, and as I walked into the house, I expected to see the faces of generations of Bhuttos looking down at me. Yes, they were all there, but so were some unexpected visitors: dozens of children from nearby Neelum Colony, who come to the house to seek refuge from the streets, do their homework, or join art classes with Fatima’s mother Ghinwa.

I decided then that I wouldn’t interview Fatima the Bhutto but Fatima the writer: the woman who spent a night in the kitchens of London’s storied Delaunay restaurant so she could learn to make croissants, who seemed to have a weak spot for beautiful shoes and who gives all her books away as a rule. It seemed fitting to take the conversation out of 70 Clifton and back online, where we first met. And so, for one week, Fatima and I emailed each other.

4- Fatima and mother

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