A Lion Called Sanam

Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter. –African Proverb

“It’s about one-sided stories”, said Sanam. “In other words, when people in power or in the position of authority say things or tell stories, rest are in the meanwhile listeners and spectators…they can tell whatever they want to tell, but the people (listeners) will understand, infer, perceive according to their own perspective,” she added.

“You haven’t heard this proverb?”, Sanam asked me.

My response was telegraphic “No”; and I thought about this video clip–it’s been in my archive–and the characterization of the lion in the African proverb–both got me into thinking about the lion/tiger role and the bear protecting his/her baby.

A lion/tiger, a bear, and a baby bear

Sanam Iftekhar is a 31-year-old single, divorced mom of a twin, teaching at a government school in Karachi. The proverb she shared with me this morning, as her father, a childhood friend of mine, and his married son with two kids and his better half, came over for an overnight stay at my home –in the outskirt of the mega city.

I suggested they all move to the planned neighborhood. There are some good schools she can join, I told Sanam. She nodded. “I plan to quit my job as I’m fed up with the system”, she said –with her eyes wide open. I also advised her to think about re-marrying. But like a once bitten twice shy individual, she said she won’t. Many others have stories to tell and share also. They (the hunted) are part of the listening (hunted) community, as others (the hunters) in their lives said, told, and weaved stories to reinforce their posits.

I also asked her to learn how to write–just as the lion in the proverb, she’s a lion, I told her. There was a glint in Sanam’s eyes.

Her crimson dress reflected the color on the pupils, and the face as we conversed–Ifti (aka Seth) lay on the couch apparently napping, but listening to our gup shup–he’s a sponge.

A simple girl Sanam has been; she still is–this is her strength–she somehow got caught in the ‘arranged marriage’ system malfunction. When being simple and a great human being is considered a weakness–and she’s one of them–things happen. Que Sera Sera.

-Irshad Salim, Karachi