Letters

A Letter from a father to his daughter

By: Syed Waqar Ali Shah
[The writer is a lecturer, English Language Development Center (ELDC) Mehran University of Engineering and Technology, Jamshoro Sindh ]
My dearest daughter,

This is from your father on your coming into this world. I am very much pleased to welcome you on January 12, 2019 at 1:30 pm in Hyderabad city located in Sindh Province, Pakistan – a country in South Asia.
You have been named ‘Aairah Bukhari’ for your name reflects nobility and respect, sublimity and honour. Like your name, I want you to grow as a nobler and respectful woman on earth. There are several bottlenecks that you will be facing on your way to attain nobility. One of these bottlenecks is ‘patriarchal mind-set’ which will do its best every inch to inhibit your intellectual growth and moral courage to take decisions in life. I want you to go unaffected by this conservative minds-set. And for this, I have not attached even my name i.e. ‘Waqar’ with your name, for I want you to have your own identity. You are simply ‘Aairah Bukhari’. I have given you a feminine name and surname which is for sure your basic identity. I want you to maintain your feminity in this male dominated society. You need not to be deceived by the counter narrative to the patriarchy which is feminism. I do not want to imitate the so called feminism which is in fashion today. Feminists have lost their identity. They have divorced themselves from ‘womanhood’ – the very individuality they should maintain. Being feminine in identity and feminist is a different thing. Feminism is as extreme as patriarchy. Both disadvantage woman of the century. I believe in individuality of the sexes: male and female. You have to reflect on these issues of the present century. What I recommend is not to imitate anything or adopt without thinking about it carefully.
I will be socializing you very carefully, not indoctrinating you with fixed stereotypes be it gendered, cultural or religious. You are new to this world, and of course you need healthy diet at this stage. And I feel that I am responsible for your upbringing along with your mother who has given you a birth in this world. She will be doing the same along with me for your better and healthy upbringing in all aspects of life so as to make you a good human. Your mother is very caring and loving human. She is a woman with her individuality.
We are your parents and we feel equally bound to inculcate positive values into your personality so that you should grow as a different girl. We want you to grow with the values of love, care and respect for everyone regardless of caste, colour or creed. You have to grow with the values of tolerance and patience, humbleness and polite behaviour. You have to grow as a pluralistic mind which values diversity of languages, cultures, religions and life.
Dear Aairah, this world is brutal. And it is beautiful simultaneously. Let yourself not get affected by the brutal world. Always think of the beauty of the world, the nature, and the cosmos that can inspire you more than overthinking on anything else including human’s harsh behaviours. There are good people and there are bad people. You will face both. Life enriches your experiences in both ways: good and bad. Bad experiences train you to reflect more constructively on your life and take a positive move in your upcoming life. Good people and good experiences are a blessing in life. They are source of encouragement. And I am sure you will have such souls. Feel encouraged. Stay bold in the face of hardships. People still regard a daughter as a burden. When a daughter is born, they seem worried about her fate. You know what I am feeling proud of having you in this world. Daughters are never a burden. They are a blessing. They are an embodiment of love, care and compassion. Daughters are a pride for their parents. You are not a burden upon me. You are my strength. I am not worried about your fate, for I believe that the real fate of the human lies with his or her endeavours be it a man or a woman. Anyone who strives in life attains a better life.
There are several women who have shaped their fate; they have directed their life towards a better end. Hypatia was a woman philosopher who stood in the face of male dominated society. She taught males about cosmology and astronomy. Someone became a mother Teresa who spent her life in the service of mankind through her words of wisdom and acts of kindness. Zainab – a grand-daughter of prophet of Islam stood with her brother in the revolutionary movement against the exploitative regime. This is where I feel more positive about the life of the woman. You are possessed with all sorts of potentials. You are not weak what people assume in society. You have no feebleness in your mind and the nature. You are a perfect being similar to man differing in the biological texture. Man has shaped the civilizations and therefore you will find more of man than of a woman here. You have to understand everything. Not all things created by man are aimed at targeting woman. There are sensible men, too who are more concerned about human race instead of dividing humanity into male and female dichotomy. You have to respect such men. You have to respect all the friends of civilizations regardless of gender.
Though I will try my best to let you go unaffected by ideological indoctrination and cultural prejudices, yet you will not be totally safe. Culture is hegemonic. Ideologies are at work everywhere. You have to make efforts to liberate yourself. Never accept slavery. Slavery has several types. Being intellectually slave is the most dangerous form of slavery. Liberate your mind from all chains which are there to cripple your growth. Intellectual slavery comes from various sources including your very home and the educational sites that you would be acquiring education. When you become mature, you have to think on it and find out how this really happens. I want you to stand as an independent thinker – reflecting on social and natural world. And this you can do through your persistent discovery of the self, the nature and the society. Read the past. Analyse the present. Foresee the future through your sensible guesses build upon your vast exposure to good readings and company of sensible friends. We – your parents are always there to help you grow as the noble woman capable of contributing to the reconstruction of this world full of vices.
This time this letter is algebraic for you – since you are so cute you cannot read and write. This letter is for you and you will read it when you are literate when you grow younger and become capable of understanding things around you. People do not educate their daughters; they think the daughters will be married one day. There is no use educating them as they see no economic gain in daughters. I do not think this way. I believe that an educated woman is better than several educated men. An educated woman can produce a sensible life on earth. She is more peaceful. She is a loving being. When love meets enlightenment, something sublime is to be witnessed. Your education is a compulsory responsibility upon us as parents. And the same thing is for you to take it seriously. Educate yourself. Enlighten yourself so as to experience transformation in your being.
I am sure this letter will find you in a good mood and health with cute smile on your face since you will be feeling the intense love and care of your father through this letter. I will be leaving you many good things for you go through which can help you make sense of this world.
I look forward to seeing your cognitive world experiencing intellectual growth.
I wish you a good luck and pray for your better life.

Lots of love!
Waqar Bukhari – a humble father!

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