Dear Diary, you should have been there, my darling diary. Really you should. Such a totally amazing event you missed. I was the toast of ALL the literary festivals of this country, Karachi, Lahore and Karachi and ummm, Lahore.
There were hundreds of writers there, goras and locals and big and small, but you know what? Mine was easily the most stunningly successful performance of all. And you know why? Because I Did It My Way. With a song and a film and An Entrance. While all the other writers just shuffled onto the stage and quietly took their seats at their events, I had Frank Sinatra announce my entrance with a song that literally brought tears to people’s eyes. They were bawling even before I came on stage!
The audience couldn’t get enough of me. Poor things, they’re so famished for celebrity. And then to see a 24-carat celebrity like me. In the flesh! Just think! I swear I made their day, their month, their year. I was Mother Teresa, Angelina Jolie and Simone de Beauvoir all rolled into one, stepping out into the limelight for one precious, heart-stopping performance.
I was at my scintillating, glamorous, heart-rending best. And I was frank with them darling diary. I held nothing back. I told them how actually I wasn’t a great intellectual (that took them aback!) but was just a simple Murree Convent girl. But I told them, how I had graduated from the University of Life (with honours, so many honours!) You should have heard the thunderous applause. And how committed I am to my causes, to my writing, how deeply I inhabit my roles. First I was the Oppressed Wife, then Best-Selling Author then Fearless Female Activist, and then Social Worker. And how for the last 12 years, while writing my latest best seller, Happy Things in Sorrow Times, a simple but moving tale about two little children in Afghanistan, I became an Afghan child for 12 long years. Yes, it’s not easy churning out masterpieces, darling diary, it takes years and years. Rapturous applause. And then how I became a painter. More applause. Because words were not enough to talk about My Journey. And all this I’ve achieved with just two weapons. A pen and a paintbrush and just between the two of us, a teensy-weensy bit of Botox but that’s just between the two of us.
I may be the third wife of my nice chief minister husband, and my body may live in the lap of luxury but my heart is always with the oppressed. A tsunami of applause. And I had the photos to prove it. Me with a leper, me with an orphaned child, me with a widow, me in white cotton but with silver jewellery, me with head bowed, me with shy smile, me with a Kalashnikov. And always with my head covered. (Frankly speaking, I’m a bit stunned that they’ve put Malala’s name up for the Nobel Prize when everyone knows how much I’ve done for acid victims and for blasphemy and how I’ve single-handedly dismantled feudalism in Pakistan.) I told them how I have always been consistent — consistently been the third or fourth wife of much married, powerful men. It is this consistency which has won me my millions of admirers, my legions of fans. It’s taken me 30 laborious years but I never once faltered in My Journey. My long arduous journey from one chief minister to another. Yes! I’m a survivor. Yes! I did it MY WAY!