The Time of the Women – a memoir .

” We went to Mahmooda’s place ,
in Ajman . . about 12 years ago . .

My husband was taken to the mardana (men section) by her husband , Nadeem .
The mardana was a place just outside the main house building , where all the male guests were entertained .
She took me to the house for the gathering , which was her territory . . No male outside her family or her bloodline was allowed in there .

She is a remarkable woman .
She has done her Masters from Peshawar University . She had come to Bannu to live at her maternal uncle’s place from her village , to study after her high school .

We had once visited her village in Khyber . . That was a very long time ago . . Decades ago .
She is a twin sister , do you know ? . And would you believe me ? They both are as different as the sky and the earth .
One the copy of her mother with fair golden hair and one the copy of her father with dark hair .

We had been staying at her place .
She took us to the veranda of her house where all the girls gathered for a chat . .
There was a pomegranate tree at her house , a cow , hens and what not . .

I remember for some mischievous reason , perhaps to get ripe fruits , we were required to jump over a wall to go to the next house but I wouldn’t or perhaps I couldn’t and so I had missed that adventure .

Once after breakfast , at around 10 or 11 am , we all girls went out cheerfully and she showed us around her village .
Then we went to the mountainous range nearby . . oh ? no , they were small climbable mountains . .

While we were out and about , she told us that ,

‘ This is our time to wander and enjoy the village , at this time no men can be seen out . And if there does come a man in the way of a woman , he never even dares to look up , he just keeps his eyes down and quietly passes by , because he knows it’s the time of the women ‘

We , just the girls , ran among the small mountains with slippery rock tops . . ”

And then they say that we capture women and keep them imprisoned in the homes ?
My mother’s memory of the visit is an obvious contradiction to such beliefs .
I myself want to visit Mahmooda’s place of that time period when my mother visited . . Or perhaps ?
I just did .
The time of the women .

.

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