ZERO POINT Magazine is a digital interchange on art, culture, politics + opinion for the Pakistani diaspora (and beyond).

Relieving The Tension

Relieving The Tension

I’ve been visiting Pakistan frequently since the age of sixteen, at least every other year or so. I’ve collected quite some experiences over the years and some of them, I must admit, have appeared strange, amusing or just bizarre to me in that very moment of time. It has been a form of culture shock, and it still is. And somehow, I remain unable to figure out how the local Pakistanis, be it in Lahore or Islamabad, see right through me and instantly know I was not born and bred or raised in Pakistan (if someone can provide me with their secret to knowing, please let me know).

I remember this one time in the spring, perhaps ten or so years ago, my cousin and I were casually hanging out around the roof or kotha of my uncle’s home. I think I may have been hiding to smoke a cigarette. However, we were there at the kotha, watching people trailing by on the road below us. I was puffing my cigarette and my cousin standing guard nervously so we would not get caught - when suddenly, we heard screaming and yelling not far from us. I jumped and threw the cigarette over the railing, hoping I hadn’t accidentally burned someone. My cousin, poor guy, almost wet himself out of fear, and later I found out that someone else might have done the same, hence the screaming. Seconds later I saw the neighbour dragging out his son from the room on their kotha and down the stairs. The neighbours son was around my age (he still is, and very much alive), but we did not see much of him the next couple of days. I was curious about why a father would drag his own son down the stairs like that, and at one moment I was almost convinced that the father had killed his own son.

My cousin did not react as strongly as myself on the brutality (looking at the situation through  Norwegian eyes, it was quite brutal). I asked my nervous cousin about the kid next door, but he would not give me any clear answers. I continued pressing him for answers until he gave up and provided me with the information I had been pressing him for. The boy next door liked to masturbate in the room on the roof.

The poor guy got beaten because he liked to caress himself. I could not understand it. Where I came from everyone did it, and when you’re fifteen everyone means your peers. Teenagers, usually full of hormones, were expected to masturbate. I knew it already back then, and I also knew that it was totally normal and nothing to be ashamed of. I did not say the last part out loud, not even to my nervous cousin, although I knew that he was not a stranger to the above mentioned activities either.

About a year ago, I decided to find out what Pakistani students learnt about sex in school. To start, it was relatively difficult and unfortunately didn’t get far, mainly because I was unsure of who to ask. Eventually, I came across a student who told me they weren’t taught much about the subject - in fact, I was told they were told nothing regarding the subject. But whether you’re Pakistani or Norwegian, feeling the fire inside is a completely natural human feeling - and there is nothing wrong with relieving the tension. I’ve received a package of surprise several times, upon hearing young adults in Pakistan are unaware of the existence and function of ovaries. Not that you need to know such things to make babies, but still, knowledge (of every kind) is better than ignorance. Knowing is, as they say, power.

Once you know how the body works you’re able to protect yourself. If you do not know, you’re probably fucked, and in more than one way. Sexual transferable diseases are a huge problem, but when I talk about sex education I’m not referring to it in a solely clinical way. Sex education is as much about developing confidence and security about one’s own sexuality, as much as getting to know how babies are made and how to use birth control appropriately and safely.

Well there you have it: a challenge for the educational system of Pakistan. All young adults need to learn about sex and sexuality, and they need to learn to deal with it as something natural and pleasurable. I’m confident if Pakistan can achieve this, a lot of built-up tension will be relieved, to the best of all.

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