History Historical Badasses

Remembering Fatima Jinnah, the Mother of the Pakistani nation

Muhammad Ali Jinnah is celebrated as the founder of the Pakistani nation. Yet his sister, Fatima Jinnah, who served as a pillar of support for him, never got married and abandoned her medical profession to assist his political endeavors, remains obscured by his magnanimous legacy.

She was born in 1893. The epoch in which Fatima Jinnah was raised (colonial British India) was largely male-dominated, with fewer women belonging to the upper echelons of the professional and political world. In such a world, Jinnah heralded a new dawn for women.

She was an inspiring woman who was known for her power, perseverance, resilience, and fortitude—stuff that legends are made of. She received an excellent early education, which was rare for a woman during her time. This helped her eventually secure a position in a competitive medical college, Dr. Ahmad Dental College in Calcutta. She established herself professionally by running her own dental clinic in Bombay. She was financially independent and self-sufficient—the epitome of modern-day empowerment.

The years leading up to the birth of Pakistan in 1947, paralleled Fatima Jinnah’s transformation from a dental surgeon to a political figure, shadowing her brother. Choosing to not get married, she abandoned her profession and continued to manage the domestic front of the Jinnah household for 28 years. However, it would be a great disservice to restrict her contribution to the domestic sphere. When her brother embarked on his political journey and coped with widowerhood, she became her brother’s chief political confidante. Once Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, told ADC Ahsan “nobody had faith in me; everyone thought I was mad except Miss Jinnah.”

She accompanied him on numerous political tours. In 1932, she attended the Second Round Table Conference with Muhammad Ali Jinnah. She also became a part of the Working Committee of the Bombay Provincial Muslim League and held that position until 1947. In March 1940, she was present at the Lahore session of the Muslim League (the political party led by Muhammad Ali Jinnah), where she stood in favor of democracy. By this time, she was convinced that the Hindus would continue to practice dominance over Muslims, and the latter would have to wallow in poverty, oppression, and subjugation till the end. Because of her belief, she helped in organizing the All India Muslim Women Students Federation in Delhi in 1941.

After her brother passed away in September 1948, she assumed the role of taking his legacy forward and ran for the presidency of Pakistan as a candidate for the Combined Opposition Party of Pakistan (COPP) in 1960. Her opponent was Ayub Khan, whom she openly proclaimed to be a dictator. Her political campaigns attracted massive crowds, swarming all over Dhaka and Chittagong. Later, she famously came to be known as Madr-e-Millat (Mother of the Nation).

In 1965, she contested elections at the age of 71. She stood against Khan—the dictator and self-installed president of Pakistan. Khan’s victory was inevitable. He exercised complete power over the governmental apparatuses of the country and drew legislation over electoral matters as the head of the state. He lumped together with the discontented, yet equally fundamental aspects of the social spectrum in the country to his favor, and drew support from the ulema (Muslim scholars), bureaucrats, students, and journalists.

When the elections were finally held, Jinnah suffered a defeat, leaving the populace in disbelief. Some even claimed that Khan dabbled in filthy election tactics such as rigging, coercion, and manipulation. They believed Jinnah’s defeat was impossible and advocated her rightful and democratic claim to leadership.

Jinnah died on July 9th, 1967 under mysterious circumstances. The cause of her death continues to be ambiguous to this date; with interpretations ranging from political assassination to natural death.

She made enormous contributions to Pakistan’s political history. Yet in the historical archives, her existence is obscured by her brother’s dominant presence. Muhammad Ali Jinnah is revered in Pakistan as the man who outfoxed his political opponents and stood up to the British. The mantle of attention conveniently falls on him, while Fatima’s own political and personal participation in nursing the nascent country goes unappreciated.

Jinnah fought for all Muslim women—for equality, for their economic independence and liberation, and for their political empowerment. She became a symbol of hope for Muslim women.

She will always be remembered in the yellow, parched, and frail pages of history.

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Editor's Picks World News Coronavirus The World

Sri Lankan Muslims are fighting against forced cremation

Earlier in November, the last three recorded deaths of COVID-19 in Sri Lanka, all of Muslims, had seen the bodies cremated for disposal by governmental authorities. These were not the first, and despite many attempts to stop it from further happening, won’t be the last to be disposed of in a manner prohibited by their religion, all in the name of public health. According to the country’s Muslim community, the government is using the coronavirus as an excuse to discriminate and add to the suffering of the minorities.

The practice of cremation had been taking place in Sri Lanka since the start of May, a violation of both the religious and emotional sentiments of the people who had lost loved ones to COVID-19. After months of trauma and in search of justice, minority groups filed a petition against the unending discriminatory pattern by authorities in July. Much to their dismay, the Supreme Court blatantly threw out the case as a result of the country’s mandatory cremation policy for dead bodies that are suspected to have been infected with the novel virus.

Cremation is prohibited in Islam. The practice is considered a violation of the dignity of the human body, making it a direct clash with teachings of the faith. The Buddhist-majority nation initially agreed to let Muslims bury their own in accordance with their religious practices. However, these inconsiderate amendments were made on April 11, depriving the nearly 10% of the total Muslim population of their basic religious right.

The Sri Lankan authorities have also denied any accusations of discrimination against Muslims, maintaining that the cremation order applied to other religious groups as well, including minority Christians. The government’s chief epidemiologist, Dr. Sugath Samaraweera said that it was the Sri Lankan government’s policy to cremate all those of either die from the virus or are suspected of having infected from it. According to the authorities, burials could contaminate ground drinking water. They only intend to do what is best for the people, regardless of religious differences.

In light of the rule proposed by the local authorities, a senior Muslim leader of the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress Party, Ali Zahir Moulana said that the Muslim community would accept this rule, despite religious obligations and belief system, if there were enough scientific evidence to prove that the act of burying the dead underground caused harm to the health of the living. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people who die of the coronavirus can either be buried or cremated. There was no mention of the burial causing harm to the living or affecting their health by contaminating the groundwater, whatsoever.

The Buddhist majority nation’s cremations policy disregards the religious beliefs of minorities such as Muslims and Christians living in the county for centuries now – dead bodies should be buried six feet under the ground and not cremated as they are done in other religions, including Buddhism and Hinduism. In Islam, specifically, Muslims believe that to cremate the dead is equivalent of making them rot in hell which is considered as a punishment in the hereafter from God.

The story of religious hatred and injustice goes far beyond the affected bodies of Coronavirus patients being cremated. Muslims in the region believe that they have been demonized since April last year when a local group of Islamists started targeting Churches in the east side of the country. Another thing that has increased this outrage is irresponsible reporting by a few local media outlets, which were quick to blame the spread of Coronavirus in Colombo onto the Muslim population after the death of a Sri Lankan Muslim patient in March. According to the BBC’s story, many cases that were reported to be cremated by the Sri Lankan authorities were not tested positive of having the virus.

As per recent data by TRT World, Sri Lanka has had more than 25,000 cases of Covid-19 and 124 deaths, including more than 50 Muslims who were cremated. Despite the interim guidelines by the WHO and several efforts by Muslim activists to stop the act of cremation of dead bodies of their own, the Sri Lankan government has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the minorities concerns.

The issue has been raised by many human rights organizations, including the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International calling it inhumane and urging the Sinhalese government to respect burial rights of its Muslim minority.


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History It Happened Once

I Googled the Salem Witch Trials so you don’t have to – and they are hella confusing

As a part of our Halloween series this year, since we’ll be mentioning witches a lot, let’s talk about the Salem Witch Trials and how the events that took place do not make any sense.

Honestly, after reading a bunch about the “trials,” I still do not really understand what happened or why it happened. Suggestions about fungus causing illnesses and other analyses on political issues within Salem at the time are speculations that are often used to try to explain the trials. But, you have to admit that there are a bunch of missing pieces in the story. The whole thing sounds like complete chaos to me!

I have so many questions. Like, why did they randomly believe the claims of young girls without any true evidence? Who really thought that allowing spectral evidence was a good idea? How were the accused supposed to prove to a court that they were not actually witches? And lastly, what were the true reasons and motivations behind this tragedy?

So let me explain what all went down in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 and 1693.  It all began when the daughter and niece of Reverend Samuel Parris, the minister of Salem Village, began having violent fits, intense contortions, and uncontrollable outbursts such as screaming. After a local doctor in Salem could not find anything physically wrong with 9-year-old Elizabeth Parris an 11-year-old Abigail Williams, he diagnosed them and other young girls within the community that showed similar behaviors and symptoms with bewitchment. This first diagnosis of witchcraft led to the imprisonment of over 200 people and 20 hangings throughout Massachusetts.

Puritan pioneers first settled in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630. During this time, the Puritan communities established their own theocratic government systems. Theocracy is a form of government largely led and structured by those who believed to be divinely guided. The government and legal system are structured based on religious law.

You still with me?

The Puritans believed that the Devil could give individuals on Earth powers in return for their loyalty. (and that isn’t even the most ridiculous claim) Those who received powers from the Devil were called witches. The principle of witchcraft became prevalent in 14th century Europe, where between the 1300s and 1600s, thousands of people, the majority being women, were executed for accusations of witchcraft. Under the legal structure in Salem, an individual who consorted with the Devil was considered a criminal. The punishment for committing such a crime was hanging, yikes!

During the time of the Salem Witch Trials, the community was stressed and struggling. The King William’s War put a strain on the community’s resources. Additionally, there was a rivalry between wealthy families and the working class that depended on forms of agriculture. There was also an on-going smallpox epidemic and fear of attack from neighboring Native Americans. The stressful and anxiety-fueled climate of the community led to ongoing tensions and suspicions among the Puritan villagers.

After the diagnosis of bewitchment, a few of the “bewitched” young girls blamed three women for bewitching them. The first is Tituba, an enslaved woman from the Caribbean bought by the Reverend Parris. The second woman was Sarah Good, a homeless beggar.  And lastly, an impoverished elderly woman named Sarah Osborne. Of course, all three of the accused women were considered “outsiders” based on race and/or class. (Is anyone shocked?)

It remains unclear if the girls were persuaded or forced to accuse these three women. However, I think that the social statuses and positions of the women in society should be considered when trying to interpret the potential reasons that these three women in particular were actually accused of the crime of witchcraft.

This is where the whole thing launched full speed into a downward spiral to me. The imprisonment of the three women led to further paranoia in a society that already suffered from numerous stresses. Good and Osborne claimed that they were not guilty; while Tituba confessed and named other witches who were working along with her against the Puritans to receive repentance. In response to Tituba claiming other individuals were also practicing witchcraft, the governor of Massachusetts ordered the establishment of the Court of Oyer and Terminer to pass judgment on witchcraft cases.

The accusations of witchcraft continued to spread across the Massachusetts colonies against mostly women and a few men (which I did not know). Similarly to Tituba, those accused confessed and named others who practiced witchcraft. The court allowed testimony based on spectral evidence. This refers to evidence that is based on visions, dreams, and a person’s spirit. The testimony was based on witnesses claiming that they interacted with or saw a person’s spirit, in place of basing testimony on a person’s physical actions. The trails lacked focus on truth and investigation. Under religious practices, the courts preferred that the accused confessed, asked for forgiveness, and vowed to not engage with the Devil again.

After years and the (unlawful) deaths and imprisonment of so many people, the Court of Oyer and Terminer was finally replaced with the Superior Court of Judicature, the testimony of spectral evidence was no longer allowed, and the trials were deemed unlawful. In 1697, the General Court ordered a day of fasting and soul-searching due to the events that had occurred during the trials. Additionally, in 1711, the families affected received reinstitution and the restoration of the names. However, it was not until the 1950s that Massachusetts formally apologized for the event.

The whole story is definitely a lot to digest, but it did give me a lot to think about.

While many aspects of the Salem Witch Trails are perplexing, within this tragedy remains lessons that should be reflected on and questioned today. It remains crucial to have objectivity, to think about the consequences of unjustly punishing individuals, to be cautious of the use of fear within the justice system, and to foresee the damages of groupthink going unquestioned.

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Editor's Picks Health Care Mind Love Wellness

17 unspoken truths about surviving the suicide of a loved one

Editor’s Note: the following includes a discussion of loss, suicide, and death. 


In May 2018 my older brother died of suicide in Boston.

Our family was supposed to meet him there in a couple of days for his graduation but instead, my father received a call from a detective a few hours before his flight, and he found out that my brother had hanged himself at the subway station near his apartment. Our family flew to Boston anyway to receive him, pack up his stuff, and bring him home to Pakistan for his final resting place.

Those days mesh into a blur of one long day now as I remember trying to fuse whatever I knew about dying with the knowledge that now my brother was dead, and that he chose this fate. Everything I thought I knew about death shifted.

1. The emotional paralysis. 

When someone dies, there is an overwhelming amount of sadness that takes over as you feel wronged by the world for taking away someone you loved. When someone chooses to die, there is an asterisk against their death – an asterisk that pushes your sadness to the back as you continue to swim in a state of shock and confusion that doesn’t allow you to accept what just happened.

2. The taboo loss. 

Support comes in all sorts of packages, I’ve learned. Some packages make sense, like when my cousins decided to join us in Boston for the most difficult weekend of our lives.

Some didn’t make as much sense – when people from the same families whispered their suggestions of changing the cause of death to something more appropriate on his death certificate. Or simply to avoid disclosing the actual cause of death to our mosques back home, to avoid the clergy from denouncing my brother’s death a sin.

3. The nervous mourners. 

At other funerals, family and friends take the reigns so that the immediate family can simply just mourn; at my brother’s funeral, the roles were reversed. As much as people wanted to be there for us, they needed us to lead them in setting the mood and figuring out how to mourn him. We were all at a loss.

As I sat down to write his eulogy, I broke down wondering if I ever knew him at all.

Suicide is considered sinful in our religion and culture, but I can never deny the fact that we had an immense amount of support from everyone we knew.

4. The questioning of your own relationship.

Immediately after learning how much my brother had suffered in silence for years I began going over every conversation, every interaction, every fight we had ever had. We spent most of our lives in the same bedroom, sharing everything. And suddenly I find out there were so many layers that I was blind to for years. As I sat down to write his eulogy, I broke down wondering if I ever knew him at all. It’s a thought that still pays a visit every now and then.

5. The sinful death. 

All I thought about was how I had failed him, how so many of us around him failed him, and how many countless more people we fail every day. But because suicide itself is such a sin in my religion, a lot of people were more focused on praying for his forgiveness.

After all the years of suffering he endured, how convenient of us as a society to absolve ourselves of any accountability because our scripture denounces suicide. What about our forgiveness for driving someone to this desperate point?

6. The reduction of a person to a cautionary tale.

My brother was charismatic, popular, hilarious, empathetic, handsome, loving, goofy. He was every color on the palette in his short 25 years – an older brother, the oldest son, a best friend, the baby cousin, a football coach – but then he took his own life and gradually I witnessed the shift in the way people spoke of him.

Despite how great he was, he has become reduced to a mere cautionary tale for many people.

7. The importance of self-accountability. 

After surviving the suicide of a loved one, human fragility becomes magnified. I became more attentive to the different roles I play in so many people’s lives. Because I know I loved my brother, I can take accountability and say I wish I was able to do more for him, without hating myself for it. Once you can take accountability for something as horrific as your brother’s loss, it becomes easier to take accountability for the rest of my life from here on.

8. Pandora’s Box of advice.

After my brother passed away, a lot of people chimed in with an infinite amount of advice that we hadn’t asked for. My grieving parents were advised to marry me off, or at least not send me back to Rome to complete my studies. I was told my parents were now my responsibility, that my younger brother needed a better role model.

I was told so many things, I wondered when the word suicide became an open invitation to comment on my life.

9. Dubbing silence as “strength.”

My brother wore a happy face all the time, only to substitute it every now and then for some snarkiness. But when we found out how much he had kept to himself, a lot of people immediately reacted by saying he was so strong for keeping this all to himself and for hanging in there for so long.

I became more attentive to the different roles I play in so many people’s lives.

And yes, I believe enduring the pain he endured for however long, definitely takes strength. But also equating his silence with strength is glorifying pain, and is exactly why people choose to stay quiet.

10. The before/after split. 

When I think back to any event in my life now, like my high school graduation, I imagine that part of my life as ‘Before Emad’.

My college graduation falls on the other side of the divide – ‘After Emad’ – in a world that’s completely changed. My calendar is no longer dictated by years but by my brother’s association, as the girl I was before was someone who was going through life with just one eye open.

11. Past memories are tainted.

Now that his death makes me question how well I really knew him, all of our memories together also feel somehow tainted. Was a really happy memory for me, actually a really difficult day for him?

On his last visit to Pakistan, he told me he wanted to throw a massive New Year’s Party with me at our house. We threw a combined party with all our friends and family and I remember that night as one of the best nights of my life. But now when I think back and hear people’s stories from that night, it seemed like my brother’s public way of saying goodbye.

12. Achievements today are tainted.

Any happy event after the loss of someone special is hard to endure. It feels incomplete and bittersweet and you wish they were able to spend this day with you. Death by suicide haunts you as its a constant reminder that this person chose not to be here for this moment today.

My college graduation. My first job. My writing. Every News Year and birthday since. And yet you don’t harbor any resentment because you’ve accepted their decision already.

13. The unfinished business.

We’ve all always understood and accepted death as the final end, especially because none of us were particularly religious but Emad’s death made things trickier for us to simply accept it and let go. Perhaps because we felt like he had prematurely let go of us, and we weren’t ready yet.

Despite our personal reservations, each of us in the immediate family went on our own journeys and found a spiritual connection to him that transcends any worldly emotion.

14. Personal dissociation.

After spending so much time questioning the kind of sister I was to him, it becomes difficult to stay the person you were before he passed away. Not only is it difficult, but it’s almost impossible. It’s as if the trauma from losing him has made me dissociate myself from the girl who I used to be while he was around; the girl who might have let him down.

15. Therapy becomes your friend.

There were not a lot of safe spaces after he passed away. As the adult of the family, I became the perfect person for people to ask inappropriate questions, for people to casually blame, for people’s unsolicited advice – all of it. I had been in and out of therapy for a couple of years as it is, but my relationship with therapy transformed after the suicide.

Was a really happy memory for me, actually a really difficult day for him?

It became the one place I wasn’t judged or questioned or blamed, but it also became the place that would give me the same tools I wish someone gave my brother.

16. It feels like the end – but it isn’t.

For the longest time, it’s bad but eventually some good begins to trickle in. The pain doesn’t disappear, but it’s not the only thing left in your heart. I don’t necessarily know if it becomes less, but slowly other things start filling up your daily routine, and the pain begins to share its space with all these other feelings so you no longer feel consumed by it.

17. The unexplainable connection with the beyond.

It can be a dream. It can be the right song playing at the right time. It can be a fleeting scent. It can be a distant voice. It can be absolutely nothing more than the wind touching your cheek right when you needed it.

It’s this intangible feeling that perhaps doesn’t have the right vocabulary to support it yet but it’s there. Whether it’s a delusional coping mechanism, or it’s a sign from him, at that moment you feel as if the universe is holding you.


If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, check out the resources below:

* Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-TALK (8255). Here is a list of international suicide hotlines.

* People who are deaf or hard of hearing can reach Lifeline via TTY by dialing 1-800-799-4889 or use the Lifeline Live Chat service online.

* Text TALK to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free counseling.

* Call the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Hotline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), for free, confidential support for substance abuse treatment.

* Call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), for confidential crisis support.

* Call Trevor Lifeline, 1-866-488-7386, a free and confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ+ youth.

7 Cups and IMAlive are free, anonymous online text chat services with trained listeners, online therapists, and counselors.


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Editor's Picks Tech Wellness Now + Beyond

What it’s like to be told ‘you’re going to die’ by an app 5 times a day

Five times a day, our phones ping, “Don’t forget, you’re going to die”, courtesy of an app called WeCroak. 

Jarring, we know, but according to a Bhutanese folk saying, one must contemplate death five times a day to find true happiness in lifeAnd this wisdom is the basis of the app, as it provides these reminders, each with a death-related quote. But can WeCroak succeed where numerous self-help books and life influencers have failed?

[Image description: WeCroak is a smartphone app created by the team of Hansa Bergwall and Ian Thomas.] via Sinisa Jolic/CBC
[Image description: WeCroak is a smartphone app created by the team of Hansa Bergwall and Ian Thomas.] via Sinisa Jolic/CBC
As the Lookbook and Tech Editors at The Tempest (Iman Saleem and Sana Panjwani, at your service!), we decided to use WeCroak for a few weeks. Here are our thoughts on the ways daily death meditation impacted our lives.

We took on the task of facing our mortality head-on to find out whether thinking about death would change the way we lived. 

How often did we think about death before we started using WeCroak? 


I am whatever the total opposite of morbid is – I literally never think about death. I’ve had people close to me who have died, but I just accepted that it happens whether or not you think about it, so I might as well save myself the brain space. I am a little bit afraid of death, but in the same way that you fear abstract concepts, like failure – the less you know about the specifics, the easier it is to ignore the fear. 


Death has been a constant in my life, but never in a way that deeply impacted it. I don’t remember ever questioning why people die or where they go. I just accepted it because life is unfair and unkind at times. 

So, why download it?


I was very curious, and I liked the idea of learning about new concepts and thoughts. It’s a fun idea, to get a little quote 5 times a day, even if they’re all about death.

Am I hanging too much hope on a $0.99 app? 

I initially read about the app in an article where the author mentioned that the reminders helped her regain some perspective and look at the bigger picture, especially when she tended to get caught up in the small stuff. My expectations were similar to what she described – just to remember what was really important.


I enjoy engaging with the unorthodox. So, when I first heard about an app that claims to push you into living by contemplating death, my interest piqued.

“The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.” – Seneca, WeCroak

However, the real reason I downloaded it was because I’m constantly on the search for something to change the way I live, to better it, to evolve. And that’s where my expectations lay – in looking to elevate my life.

What was the initial experience like?


I was excited, although I tended to totally ignore the death reminder and interpret the accompanying quote however which way I wanted to. Sometimes, if the quotes were too long or not initially compelling, I ignored them. I feel like whoever chose the quotes wouldn’t be offended though.  Life is too short to waste reading things I don’t like. I’m going to die, remember?

The quotes were usually a welcome distraction from my everyday life, and I like being able to think about something every couple of hours that’s bigger than my work or my worries.


The day I downloaded it, I waited for the first notification in tense anticipation. What will it say? How will it make me feel? Will it flick a switch inside me? Light a fire? Am I hanging too much hope on a $0.99 app? 

I do tend to think a little bit harder now about how I spend my time, and what experiences will truly fulfill me.

The moment came and passed, and I remained unchanged. The waiting period ahead of it, though, did leave its mark. The fact that I was waiting for a death quote made me think about dying; human impermanence; there might be no tomorrow.

I asked myself – why am I delaying ticking off experiences I’d pushed to “one day”? The next day, I got my nose pierced. Now, I’m planning a trip + curating a tattoo-centric Pinterest board… because why not?

WeCroak's quotes come from artists, poets, spiritualists, films, among many other sources. (Sinisa Jolic/CBC)
WeCroak’s quotes come from artists, poets, spiritualists, films, among many other sources. (Sinisa Jolic/CBC)

Do we think the app had any lasting effects?


I do tend to think a little bit harder now about how I spend my time, and what experiences will truly fulfill me or add something to my life. While a lot of my outlook and attitudes have changed in the months since downloading it, I do wonder how much credit belongs to WeCroak and how much of it is just general early-twenties-emotional-growth.

I also screenshot quotes that I really love and they all live together in an album on my phone that I look through whenever I need emotional bolstering.


I can’t say for sure but I can’t dismiss it either. I believe it’s subtle, the kind that takes root in the back of your mind and affects your subconscious, pushing you to make certain decisions that you might not have before the app (see: nose piercing).

I still never think about death, despite getting five daily notifications.

I will say I quickly became indifferent to WeCroak. Within the span of two weeks, it devolved to yet another push notification. Honestly, it would just pop up at inopportune times most of the day which, yes is what death does, but I guess this is my way of saying that I don’t have time for death.

Do we think about death differently now?


I still never think about death, despite getting five daily notifications declaring its imminence. I don’t know how my brain manages to gloss over the ‘death’ part, but I generally just interpret the quotes as reminders to live my best life. So death and I are still exactly where we started: distant, but mutually respectful.


If the nose piercing story is anything to go by, I’ve definitely become more appreciative of life’s impermanence. However, I find it ironic that in my quest to live fuller, I’m chasing experiences which have a higher mortality rate.

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson, WeCroak

So, while WeCroak didn’t change my relationship with death, I will credit it with changing my relationship with life.

Final verdict: would we recommend the app?


If you’re generally quite morbid or prone to existential crises, WeCroak really isn’t the app for you. If you are, however, like me, and generally just ignore your own mortality, this will be a little reminder of it that’s not too harsh but will leave you with something to think about.


Death is inevitable, yet we live like there’s always a tomorrow. We get wrapped up in life but not the life we should be living, relatively speaking. It becomes an endless rut of far too many moments that don’t matter and not enough of those that do. 

So, in that sense, WeCroak serves as a reminder that we should try for more, do more, live more. Even if you – like me – don’t pause to reflect on the quotes being shared, the push notification alone is a helpful reminder to take a pause and engage in some internal alignment. 

Ask yourself, what matters in the end? Get WeCroak here for $0.99.

Health Care Health News The Internet Gender The World Wellness Inequality

Anam Tanoli’s suicide reveals the ugly truths of mental health in Pakistan

Trigger Warning: mentions of suicide, depression and cyber harassment

A lot of you may be wondering about the large gap between my last article and this one, right? The reason has been a rollercoaster of mental health struggles that had severely affected my routine and motivation to work.

The reason for penning an article on this particular topic as my “comeback” is also mental health. Nearly a week ago, I woke up with anxiety for the second time in a row; I couldn’t breathe normally, and it felt like an out-of-body experience (a common symptom known as detachment or depersonalisation) with my mind turning into a broken record once again while telling me how I will never achieve my goals, I will never succeed in life, and how I will never be good enough.

Two hours later, while still recovering from the ‘aftershocks’ of this attack, I randomly remembered seeing some tributes being paid on certain instagram stories for a Pakistani-Italian model named Anam Tanoli passing away the night before. I didn’t know her too well, only seeing her pictures on certain brand posts around Instagram and Facebook, and I assumed the worst to be a car accident. Until curiosity got the best of me and I decided to google it.

As it turned out, Anam Tanoli had committed suicide by hanging herself. She had been battling severe depression (she had booked an appointment with a therapist the next day), and had recently become the prime target for online hate and cyber harassment. She was only 26 years old.

So here I am, typing out a piece on a model I did not know about, but whose death has brought me to try and remind the readers of certain thing we tend to keep forgetting.

A friend of mine, in all good intent, mentioned how she didn’t think Anam would be suffering this way because she was so pretty and successful. Oftentimes we equate worldly wealth and good fortune to emotional and spiritual well-being; they’ve got it good, why should they be sad?

Why would successful people like Robin Williams, Chester Bennington, Kate Spade and Kim Jonghyun be suffering so badly they would take their own lives?

That’s the brutal reality behind mental health issues: money, fame, and looks may show a certain degree of power in the physical world, but not necessarily for the one in your mind. Particularly, for the demons living there.

Which brings me to the next thing: Over 300,000 people are at risk of taking their own lives in Pakistan. The country ranks 22nd among 25 countries in which a survey was conducted on rates of cyber bullying, and that rate is known to be increasing as of late. 

Our words can either be used as weapons or a food banquet for those aforementioned demons. The fact that some people choose to sit behind a screen and type out cruel words for others with no regard of the consequences is baffling; what kind of sick joy do these people get from trying to tear others down?

And whatever a woman does seems to be an open invitation for just that. The Digital Rights Foundation (DRF) in Pakistan stated last year, that out of 535 calls made to them during their first four months of being operative, 62% of those calls were made by women.

Mental health awareness may be increasing in countries like Pakistan, but unlike that of negativity such as cyberbullying, it’s pace is drastically slow. A lot of people have no material or mental means to seek the help they need; money, qualified professionals, stigma and stereotyping have all become hinderances to what is just as important as a physical check up.

After Anam’s death, I saw depression and mental health being discussed as a serious concern among us all and not as a taboo or lack of religious faith. Many celebrities have shared their own struggles with mental health voiced concerns over jokes being made on the  victims. Pakistan’s recently elected president Dr. Arif Alvi took to twitter three days ago, proposing mental health helplines to be readily available 24/7.

Anam Tanoli’s death may have created a wave for mental health awareness in Pakistan, but it was a death she didn’t deserve. We, at The Tempest, send our deepest condolences to her family. We would also like to encourage our readers to not be afraid to seek the help they need, or to reach out to those who do. Spread love and kindness to others and save some for yourself, because you are just as deserving of it as anyone else.

For Pakistanis: two counselling and suicide prevention helplines that I am aware of that you can use and refer are the Aman Foundation’s Telehealth helpline (+92 (21) 111-11-9123) and Rozan’s Counselling Services Helpline (0800-22444, 051-2890505-6).


If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, check out the resources below:

* Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-TALK (8255). Here is a list of international suicide hotlines.

* People who are deaf or hard of hearing can reach Lifeline via TTY by dialing 1-800-799-4889 or use the Lifeline Live Chat service online.

* Text TALK to 741741 for 24/7, anonymous, free counseling.

* Call the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Hotline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), for free, confidential support for substance abuse treatment.

* Call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), for confidential crisis support.

* Call Trevor Lifeline, 1-866-488-7386, a free and confidential suicide hotline for LGBTQ+ youth.

7 Cups and IMAlive are free, anonymous online text chat services with trained listeners, online therapists, and counselors.


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Music Pop Culture

Aretha Franklin wasn’t just the Queen of Soul, she was the voice of a movement

I don’t remember where I was or what I was doing the first time I heard Aretha Franklin sing. Franklin’s iconic status was something that was inundated into my brain since birth. For as long as I could remember, Aretha was and forever will be referred to as the Queen of Soul.

Aretha Franklin was a walking piece of American history. The echoes of her strong voice are just the cherry on top of the countless contributions Aretha made to the Civil Rights movement. One of her greatest contributions was the song “Respect”, which was released in 1967 and pivoted her towards superstardom.

Originally the song was written and performed by Otis Redding with the message of a man demanding respect from his wife because he was the breadwinner. Aretha turned the song into an anthem for both the women and civil rights movement at the time. It became a declarative song for women, demanding respect from the men they have treated right.

The impact of this song on not only her career but the lives of millions who have listened is monumental. Respect is always taught to be something earned, not given. We are to fight for our right to earn it, but in society, not everyone truly receives the respect they deserve.

For years millions of black women have demanded the respect they deserved and were repeatedly denied.  Aretha understood respect and what it means to not only demand it but prove you are worthy of it.

Her contributions do not lie just within music. Aretha was a living legend, known to support Martin Luther King Jr. in the fight for civil rights, and singing at the inauguration of our first black President Barack Obama. But one of her most famous acts of activism and support for black women, in particular, was when she offered to post bail for Angela Davis in 1970:

“I’ve been locked up (for disturbing the peace in Detroit) and I know you got to disturb the peace when you can’t get no peace. Jail is hell to be in. I’m going to see her free if there is any justice in our courts, not because I believe in communism, but because she’s a Black woman and she wants freedom for Black people,” she continued. “I have the money; I got it from Black people ― they’ve made me financially able to have it ― and I want to use it in ways that will help our people.”

Aretha was aware of the influence that wealth and power had on black communities. Especially In black communities where such wealth was sparse, it made all the difference to use those resources for the greater good. Others told her that she shouldn’t support Davis because she was a communist, but her dedication to achieving sovereignty for African Americans superseded that. There was no need to worry about political alliances when black people were dying in the streets.

Despite her activism, many commented on her diva reputation. But the same way Aretha demanded respect for herself, she was allowed to embrace her diva status. She had decades of activism on her resume, numerous hit singles, and was the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of fame. She paved the way for many other artists of color, especially black women who are so often exploited in the industry.

Aretha was not a singer, she was an artist. She perfected the craft and molded it into her skin. The transformation from girl to soul diva was not constructed; it was as seamless as a butterfly coming out of its cocoon. The talent was running through her veins and she never let us forget it.

She was the queen of soul, an activist and ultimately the living embodiment of black liberation.

“We all require and want respect, man or woman, black or white. It’s our basic human right.”

The Internet Pop Culture

How to take a selfie and not die

As an early millennial, I end up questioning a lot of things I learned as a kid and testing them for their relevance in today’s fast-changing times. One of the things I remember learning was ‘safety first.’ However, I find it very surprising that safety doesn’t even come in last among millennials and Generation Z. Take, for example, the number of deaths that take place around the world while taking a selfie.

For the uninitiated, a selfie is a photograph of yourself, by yourself. Unlike pictures from older generations, it ensures that you don’t need to ask a random passerby to take a photo of you with the lovely scenic background as opposed to taking a shot of just the scenery. Taking a picture of yourself is dangerous? Apparently. While the first few deaths could be counted as freak occurrences or accidents, I cannot believe how unbelievably stupid you have to be to consider that it would be a great idea to get a good photo while balancing on the edge of the rooftop of a skyscraper. So not worth it!

So here are seven rules to help you decide if you should take that selfie:

1. Time

Guy taking a selfie beside railway tracks. Gets hit in the face by the shoe of a passing train's driver.
Via giphy. Description: Guy taking a selfie beside railway tracks. He gets hit in the face by the shoe of a passing train’s driver.

Do I only have a window of a few minutes to time this shot before an oncoming vehicle will hit me? Yes? Don’t take that selfie!

2. Balance

Animated people falling off a cliff, one after the other, while taking a selfie
Via giphy. Description: Animated people falling off a cliff, one after the other, while taking a selfie

Can I stand or sit properly for an extended period here or could I fall from a height? Yes? Don’t take that selfie!

3. Animals

A herpetologist (Amphibian and reptile expert) from National Geographic being bit on the nose by a snake, when he got too close
Via giphy. Description: A herpetologist (Amphibian and reptile expert) from National Geographic being bitten on the nose by a snake, when he got too close

Are you out in the wild? Is the animal a carnivore? Is it bigger or more powerful than you or venomous? Yes? Don’t take that selfie! (The only exception here is if you’re appropriately trained to handle these animals.)

4. Weather

Guy filming himself yelling very close to a tornado
Via giphy. Description: Guy filming himself yelling very close to a tornado

Are you in the midst of a natural calamity? Yes? Are you safe? No? Don’t take it! I cannot stress on this one enough. DO NOT challenge or test mother nature. If there’s a tornado, earthquake, tsunami or live volcano, run for cover and do NOT stop for a selfie.

5. Weapons

A little girl crossing a finger across her neck, signifying death
Via giphy. Description: A little girl crossing a finger across her neck, signifying death

Are you holding something that could potentially kill you or grievously injure you? Like a knife or a gun? Yes? Don’t take that selfie!

6. Attentiveness

Two ladies in car taking a video of themselves. The one driving gets distracted to sing with actions on camera, leading to a crash
Via giphy. Description: Two ladies in a car taking a video of themselves. The one driving gets distracted to sing with actions on camera, leading to a crash

Do you need to be attentive to what you’re doing? Are the lives of others potentially in your hands? Are you driving or are you a surgeon performing an operation? Yes? Don’t take that selfie!

7. Inspiration

Kid pointing and laughing. He suddenly turns serious and shakes his head and finger while saying no
Via giphy. Description: Kid pointing and laughing. He suddenly looks serious and shakes his head and finger while saying no

Is your inspiration a death-defying stunt you saw in a movie? Yes? Are you a trained stunt-person? No? Don’t take that selfie!

Honestly speaking, one would imagine all of this was governed by the rules of common sense and learning from others’ mistakes. However, the increasing number of deaths proves how uncommon common sense can be. Plus, it encourages the insane notion of “Wait, you made a mistake? I’ll do it too!” If you’d still like a never-seen-before selfie, do what this guy did and sharpen your Photoshop skills. He’s probably got better pictures than most and is still alive.

Love Life Stories

How Bob Ross helped me mourn the death of my grandfather

Mourning doesn’t only involve missing those who have passed on – it also involves a lot of introspection and thinking about the meaning of life. At least, it did for me.

When I lost my grandfather earlier this year, I was prepared for his death. I knew he was going to die – but I never could wrap my head around the fact that all the love that flowed through him was gone. It wasn’t just tragic. It was confusing.

I was his only grandchild, and I lived with him and my grandmother while my mom worked. My earliest memories are of him teaching me about the world, reading to me, or taking me on adventures.

My grandfather was born in South Africa in 1934. He wasn’t like many people his age. Despite his age, and despite the fact that he was indoctrinated into accepting apartheid, he was surprisingly receptive to learning about concepts like white privilege, oppression, and feminism. When I called him out on having harmful views, he listened to me, apologized and made an effort to adjust his thinking.

Engaging with older people on political matters can be tough. It can be incredibly frustrating when your own relatives hold bigoted opinions. It was in these conversations that I realized how different I was: few of my friends had grandfathers – or indeed, parents – who’d engage with their ideas instead of condescending to them.

[bctt tweet=”Mourning doesn’t only involve missing those who have passed on – it also involves a lot of introspection and thinking about the meaning of life.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Men are often socialized to be stoic, cold, and violent. In feminism, we often talk about ‘toxic masculinity’ – that is, harmful norms about masculinity that hurt men and everyone around them. In many families, toxic masculinity means that men feel compelled to condescend to the children and women around them.

Luckily for me, my grandfather didn’t buy into those ideas. Instead, he was gentle, nurturing, kind, and sensitive. He encouraged me to think for myself, and respected my ideas and beliefs. One seldom sees examples of men being unashamed of their genuinely nurturing and compassionate nature.

I struggled to process that such a remarkable, loving person was only a temporary inhabitant of the world. Did his life now mean nothing?

In the few days after my grandfather died, everything felt sunless: there was no warmth or light anywhere. My brain was buzzing with questions about the meaning of life. All I wanted to do is lie in bed, eat, and watch YouTube videos.

I watched a lot of Bob Ross videos during that period of mourning. Bob Ross is a painter who famously hosted a show called ‘The Joy of Painting’ in the 80s and 90s. In the show, he’d teach viewers to paint landscapes. Since his voice is so soothing, the show is relaxing – like an ASMR video.

Bob Ross wasn’t just a good art teacher: in his show, he has the sort of aura that makes me think children loved him. He seemed calm, content, and warm. He encouraged everyone to paint, believing we all have inherent artistic talent. He rescued small animals and nursed them to health, often showing them off on his show. He was well-known for his sweet catchphrases, where he spoke about painting ‘happy little trees’ to house small wildlife, often saying that ‘We don’t make mistakes; we just have happy accidents.’

Something that struck me about Bob Ross was how similar he was to my grandfather. Having never met Bob Ross, I can’t speak about his personality, but it was hard to watch his videos without remembering my grandfather’s kind and warm nature. Coincidentally, both my grandfather and Bob Ross were examples of what men could be if they shook off toxic masculinity and embraced their innate compassion.

Bob Ross passed away many years ago, but he keeps on giving to the world through his videos. They teach people not simply to paint but to practice kindness – kindness to nature, kindness to those around them, and kindness with themselves. It goes to show that the things that survive for generations are not just toxic ideas and inhumane systems of repression: kindness has a legacy too.

People pass on, and somehow, the personality that inhabits their body disappears into thin air.

Except it doesn’t. Whether we plan on it or not, we teach people through our words and actions – and that impact remains after we die. My grandfather has passed on, but that doesn’t mean his life counted for nothing. It was surely not meaningless, because he brought meaning to those around him.

Famous or not, we leave a legacy by affecting each person we meet. We have to decide whether that legacy is one of kindness or not. Mourning has not taught me the meaning of life, but it has reminded me of the importance of choosing compassion in an unkind world.

USA World News The World

The “French Spiderman” story is problematic for several reasons – here’s why

Mamoudou Gassama lived a quiet life in France before his life was forever changed. Without a moment’s hesitation, he decided to commit an act of selfless bravery and kindness. Bystanders stood by recording in awe as Gassama scaled a building with seeming superhero-like powers to rescue a baby dangling from a balcony. He successfully saved this child from sure death and was welcomed with cheers and applause. Video of his act soon went viral, and Gassama was deemed as the legendary “French Spiderman.” It didn’t take long for the President of France to see the video of this young man – who wasn’t actually French, but an immigrant from Mali. To thank him for such a brave act, President Macro granted him and his brother French citizenship. While this is a worthy reward for his act of kindness, president Macron’s “gift” really sheds light on the rhetoric in which we view immigrants.

I hate to be the person to find the darkness in a seemingly beautiful story. Everyone wins here. A baby boy lives another day with his family, a man gains the citizenship he was seeking, and President Macron and the rest of the French government can pretend that they care about immigrants or black bodies…at least for a little while.

Gassama’s act was truly an amazing feat, but as millions of undocumented immigrants risk their lives to enter countries like that of France and the United States, they do so knowing they won’t be appreciated. The kind acts they do everyday go (quite literally) undocumented, as they remain unnoticed. They know that they will face discrimination (and in some cases, even violence), but they continue to endure in hopes of a better life. Sometimes, that comes with the gift of citizenship and sometimes, it comes with death. We’ve all heard the stories of undocumented house workers facing sexual assault and abuse – and as soon as they speak out, they disappear.  

Even Mamoudou was shaken with fear when he realized that his act was now public record and his truth would be revealed. Like most immigrants, he didn’t expect to be met with kindness about his undocumented status because France is particularly unkind. Immigrant children are placed in jail and people who help refugees are criminalized. CNN writer Dawn Dimowo stated my thoughts exactly when she said, “a good immigrant is not so much about being legal or illegal, right or wrong, black or white. It is about being desired.”

The “reward” itself is also problematic, as it conveys an interesting and harmful message: that immigrants must be “superhuman” to be considered human.  Immigrants are automatically met with suspicion just because they’re immigrants. The world is quick to believe that they’re “sketchy” and trying to steal something – be it food, jobs, or citizenships rather than believe that these are real people trying to survive. Immigrants have morals just like us and care about other people. It’s almost insulting to think that the world is so surprised that an immigrant would commit such a brave act, because in my eyes, of course, they would! Immigrants are built on bravery. There’s no braver act than leaving your own country to one where you will face hardship and discrimination, just in hopes of building something for your family.

Like I said, this is an amazing story and not something we get to see every day – but I also can’t ignore the uneasy feeling it gave me in my stomach. So often we focus on America’s immigration issues and racism but forget that racism is a global issue that began in Europe. And France is JUST as racist as anywhere else especially against black immigrants who are coming from the countries that they colonized and ruined, so giving Gassama citizenship was the very least Macron could have done.

Gender & Identity Life Inequality

These are 5 ways you can honor Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)

The best part about scary stories isn’t the suspense, gore, and unimaginable monsters coming to life, but the endings. The part where good wins over evil and the monsters are defeated only to be heard of again through storytelling. Growing up I used to view slavery and the holocaust like a scary story. I knew they were real but like all bad things, they came to an end. The monsters were defeated and ceased to exist. In my mind, there was no more racism or antisemitism and everyone lived in peaceful harmony and equal opportunity no matter their skin color or religion.

But here in the real world, it feels like there’s been a surge of antisemitism around the world. The villains are now Neo-Nazis and they are recalling a time that we must never let happen again. The Holocaust, which ended the lives of almost 6 million Jews and other innocents, is a dark stain in history that we will never forget. In accordance with the Hebrew calendar, we remeHolocaustholocaust and all those who survived such terror.

Here are a few things you can do for Yom Hashoah (Remembrance Day), to not only make an impact today but to keep remembering and fighting against hate and persecution.

1. Take part in the Mourner’s Kaddish

[Image Desciption: A photo of a woman praying near a window.] Via Unsplash
The Mourner’s Kaddish is a series of Jewish prayers that honor the dead and is extremely important in regards to the holocaust. It’s been translated into English from Aramaic and anyone can recite it or visit a synagogue to join in the prayers. This act is not only respectful of victims and survivors but shows religious tolerance that Jews often aren’t afforded in comparison to Christianity.

2. Experience history through museums

[Image Description: A photo of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.] Via the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
This is as good a day as any to visit a Holocaust museum to hear the stories of what victims endured. If you are unable to visit a museum today, still make sure you take a moment and reflect. Also, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has online interactive activities that you can read through and take part in. They include things like understanding propaganda and the dangers that come with silence and compliance, which translate well into issues we see today.

3. Engage with unproblematic media

[Image Description: A photo of books in a library.] Via Unsplash
If you’re not a museum person, there are many movies and books out there that will teach you so much.

My favorite books include:

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak that highlights the book burning that occurred in Germany during WWII through the eyes of the dead.
  • The Boy Who Dared by Susan Bartoletti is based on the true story of Helmut Hubener the youngest person sentenced to death by the Nazis. He shared anti-Nazi material after discovering the lies told by Germany while listening to forbidden radio broadcasts.
  • Schindler’s List where a Nazi is forced to face the reality of WWII and begins to rebel and save Jewish lives.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas tells the story of forbidden friendship between a German boy and a boy in a concentration camp and exemplifies the innocence often forgotten in war.
  • Fiddler on the Roof  follows the life of a poor Jewish man and his life as antisemitism threatens everything he holds dear.

4. Tikkun Olam

Image result for holocaust memorials
[Image Description: A photo of a Holocaust Memorial in California, U.S.] Via San Francisco City Guides
Also known as “fix the world,” and seen as a loose translation to social justice. In Judaism, it’s seen as God’s direction to help those in need. Religious persecution and genocides are still currently happening around the world and it’s important to be aware of them.

The Darfur genocide occurring in Sudan against the non-Arab population is horrific and violent. There’s also the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, where Muslims are being persecuted for their religion and constantly fleeing for safety to neighboring Bangladesh.

It may seem hopeless and out of your hands but awareness and spreading the word always makes a difference.

5. Remember why we call certain people “neo-Nazis”

[Image Description: A photo of people walking through a memorial for the murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin, Germany.] Via Unsplash
In further conjunction with Tikkun Olam, remember to not exclude anti-semitism in the current conversation. We’ve been so quick to name the alt-right neo-Nazis and call them out on racism, anti-Muslim rhetoric, stupidity and bigotry and while those reasons are accurate and warranted, anti-semitism has frequently been left out the conversation. These people hate Jews and don swastikas on their arms. We have to protect the Jewish as fiercely as we protect our other allies.

The important takeaway is to remember and to learn to see the signs and take a stand before millions die.

We cannot allow history to repeat itself.

Love Life Stories

Why do people keep treating Desi widows like social outcasts?

After painfully and very suddenly losing my father, I was not prepared for the expectations that came after death. The loss hurt for everyone in the family, but for my mother, it was a loss of an identity she carried for years and hoped to carry into retirement.

At that time, she no longer had to worry so much about being a mother, but with my father, she began to see her role as a wife evolving into something new. I began to see this new kind of closeness that came with being married for so long between my parents, a familiarity that involved an acceptance of the other person as they were and an acknowledgment of “We need each other and look forward to growing even older together.” I was lucky to have parents who won in married life, even with all of the obstacles in the way.

[bctt tweet=”I was lucky to have parents who won in married life, even with all of the obstacles in the way.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Unfortunately, when that came to a screeching halt, so did my mother’s world. Somehow, the cultural baggage of South Asia reminded her of it even more. For the record, I do not speak for my mother. I do speak for what I observed for the months following my father’s death though.

I observed my mother’s loss of power.

I observed her grief and inability to grapple what happened.

I also observed nosy people who somehow believed they needed to dictate what she should do after my father died. These people believed they were the most learned in the religion that we grew up with, Islam.

[bctt tweet=”I observed my mother’s loss of power.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Based on their interpretations, my mother was supposed to engage in a tradition known as iddat. In Islamic tradition, iddat refers to a “waiting period” for female widows or divorcees. This waiting period lasts about 3 months for divorcees and a little over 4 months for widows. Afterward, the woman is able to remarry another man. Why is this a thing? Well, it was to ensure that a woman could make sure she was not pregnant, allowing for about three menstrual cycles to pass before she can marry another man.

[bctt tweet=” I observed a loss of an identity that would take longer than some prescribed timeline to recreate.” username=”wearethetempest”]

So while that tradition may not seem all that restrictive, I learned that South Asian culture decides to take it many unnecessary steps further. After a woman’s husband has died she is then expected to not leave her house during that time (for any reason). She cannot wear any bright colors, and she cannot be in front of any men.

When these rules suddenly became something my mom had to think about, I was trying not to burn with fury. When people began to tell her that it was “mandated by our religion”, my mom would sarcastically respond with: “Of course, I just lost my husband. I am menopausal so can’t even get pregnant anymore, and I am in so much pain. It must mean that I am looking to marry a new man tomorrow.  As for not leaving the house, will you guys be coming over to my house in Dallas to make sure I have my groceries anytime my son or daughter is not around? I think not.”

In some ways, my mother was also further isolated, especially by “religious” men who felt the need to enforce these misogynistic rules of cultural baggage. One time a few months later when she was at a wedding, someone decided the best thing to say to my mother was: “Why are you wearing such colorful outfits after losing your husband?”

[bctt tweet=”And then I remembered, even after death, men still hold the self-imposed responsibility of regulating a woman’s behavior. Even after death.” username=”wearethetempest”]

After that, for months, and even for my own wedding, I had to beg my mom to wear a nice and new outfit. I told her that what people told her did not matter, but it was too difficult. She internalized it, and for the sake of keeping face and not seeming “too happy too soon” after losing her husband, she stopped wearing bright colors. She tried to tone down everything about herself wherever she went. She was too scared to smile.

I begged my mother to respond to these people. If she did not want to I would gladly do it for her. Unfortunately, I had to bite my tongue at her wishes, but it never meant that I agreed with any of this.

[bctt tweet=”I never even knew before experiencing such a close death in my life that widows were treated this way because nobody talked about it.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I never even knew before experiencing such a close death in my life that widows were treated this way because nobody talked about it. While I am not a person who wears religion on her sleeve, I knew that these traditions were an adulteration of what religious scripts actually say. These traditions are not outdated because they should never have been one in the first place. Not to mention, the intention of iddat was purely a functional one. Sometimes, I wonder which group of men sat together and made these rules, and frankly, why.

And then I remembered, even after death, men still hold the self-imposed responsibility of regulating a woman’s behavior. Even after death.