The Upstairs Wife An Intimate History of Pakistan PDF

The Upstairs Wife An Intimate History of Pakistan ➥ [Epub] ➟ The Upstairs Wife An Intimate History of Pakistan By Rafia Zakaria ➯ – A memoir of Karachi through the eyes of its women An Indies Introduce Debut Authors Selection   For a brief moment on December 27 2007 life came to a standstill in Pakistan Benazir Bhutto the countr A memoir of Karachi through the Wife An PDF/EPUB ✓ eyes of its women An Indies Introduce Debut Authors Selection   For a brief moment on December life came to a standstill in Pakistan Benazir Bhutto the country’s former prime minister and the first woman ever to lead a Muslim country had been assassinated at a The Upstairs MOBI :Ê political rally just outside Islamabad Back in Karachi—Bhutto’s birthplace and Pakistan’s other great metropolis—Rafia Zakaria’s family was suffering through a crisis of its own her Uncle Sohail the man who had brought shame upon the family was near death In that moment these twin catastrophes—one political and public the other secret and intensely personal—briefly Upstairs Wife An ePUB ↠ converged    Zakaria uses that moment to begin her intimate exploration of the country of her birth Her Muslim Indian family immigrated to Pakistan from Bombay in escaping the precarious state in which the Muslim population in India found itself following the Partition For them Pakistan represented enormous promise And for some time Upstairs Wife An Intimate History MOBI :Ê Zakaria’s family prospered and the city prospered But in the s Pakistan’s military dictators began an Islamization campaign designed to legitimate their rule—a campaign that particularly affected women’s freedom and safety The political became personal when her aunt Amina’s husband Sohail did the unthinkable and took a second wife a humiliating and painful betrayal of kin and custom that shook Upstairs Wife An Intimate History MOBI :Ê the foundation of Zakaria’s family but was permitted under the country’s new laws The young Rafia grows up in the shadow of Amina’s shame and fury while the world outside her home turns ever chaotic and violent as the opportunities available to post Partition immigrants are dramatically curtailed and terrorism sows its seeds in Karachi   Telling the parallel stories of Amina’s polygamous marriage and Pakistan’s hopes and betrayals The Upstairs Wife is an intimate exploration of the disjunction between exalted dreams and complicated realities.

10 thoughts on “The Upstairs Wife An Intimate History of Pakistan

  1. W W says:

    Rafia Zakaria writes regularly for the Pakistani newspaper Dawnand I find her columns interestingWomen's issues are a major theme of her writingI wasthereforekeen to read her bookI read it in one sittingthough it left me with rather mixed impressionsIt is an interesting experimentjuxtaposing the story of her auntwhose husband takes a second wife because of her childlessnesswith important events in Pakistan's historytill the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007At times the book did remind me of Kamila Shamsiewho also writes about life in Pakistan's mega city Karachiand the disillusionment and alienation of the Muslim migrants from Indiaand their descendantsKarachi bursts at the seamsand freuently descends into unimaginable violenceRafia captures the magnitude of the city's problems pretty wellBut as far as her analysis of events in Pakistan's history is concernedit isn't particularly balancedAt times she presents the perpetrators of the violence as the victimsThe migrants from India may feel alienatedbut they also have much to answer forwhen it comes to Karachi's violenceThe story of her auntwhose husband takes a second wifebecause of her childlessness is not particularly compellingTwo Pakistani wivesliving on separate floorsand never ever speaking to each other for yearsis scarcely credibleSuch a house could only become one thinga battlegroundThe book starts with the assassination of Benazir Bhuttoand has a good deal about heras the first woman to lead a Muslim countryMercifullyat leastshe is not glorified needlessly and her flaws and corruption are acknowledgedDespite its flawsRafia's debut book was an interesting effortwhich kept me turning the pages

  2. Christine Christine says:

    When I brought this book I was expecting something along the lines of Fatima Merissini This book is not that What this book is a chronicle of a family life in Parkisten after Partition Zakaria’s family moved to Pakistan because of the anti Muslim climate of India Zakaria’s family history in particular that of her childless aunt whose husband takes a second wife The personal conflict in the family is also shown in contrast to the unfolding political and societal drama as Pakistan’s government tightens control over women In many ways Zakaria’s story is like Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale and considering that Atwood’s novel doe draw on real events and rules that have been applied to women this should not come as that much of a surprise After all haven’t you seen the photo of a bunch of old white guys deciding that maternity care is not essential for health? Haven’t you read about the anti abortion bill that was signed by a white man surrounded by white men? Haven’t you heard of the Saudi Girls council with just men? The Russian loosening of spousal abuse laws? How about the women leaving Saudi Arabia because of the constraining laws? The various Texas bills and laws concerning abortion? The lawmaker who referred to women as a host for the baby? The fact that in many countries young girls can legally be married to older men? So yeah The Handmaid’s Tale is real and this book really proves it Unlike Atwood’s fact based dystopia Zakaria memoir showcases the erosion of rights and standing as a woman actually becomes a leader of the country The trials and tribulations that the women endure might not be common to all at least on the face but at the root? At the root it is But the memoir isn’t just concerned with Pakistani politics but also with the effect of international politics on the ordinary Pakistani citizen I for one wish I had read this prior to reading A Golden Age It is non linear so it will put some people off but if you give yourself over to the voice it is like you are having a cup of tea with the author

  3. Mystica Mystica says:

    The story of Aunt Amina and her husband Uncle Sohail is the primary focus of the book However the shadow of the Pakistani India conflict and the continual Islamization of Pakistan forms the over riding feature of the storyI like family sagas I like the rich descriptive detail found in such stories The links within links and in an Asian family with its huge extended family the saga is always complicated richer in detail and somehow intimateAmina is married to Sohail and after over a decade of marriage he decides to take a second wife Taking a second wife is allowed in Islam but you do have to get the permission of the first wife This was not done in this case and I think it is not done in a lot of cases The wife tends to get shoved aside in placed of a newer and glamourous entity In this case the over riding cause was that Amina did not have children and for Sohail this was of primary importance Egged on by his elder sister in the absence of his mother Sohail's elder sister wielded clout that a Western woman could not even dream of a new wife was found Unfortunately for Sohail this wife too did not produce the reuired heirThe story is told from the point of view of a ten year old girl herself the niece of the said Amina The family is a joint one and her mother is trying to balance the dictates of her own mother in law who asserts herself on even the smallest point to get her own way and try to put one over her independent daughter in law The case in point of getting a driving licence and for five years having to be accompanied by her father in law whose instructions on how to drive what to do and what not to do whilst driving despite the fact that he did not know himself to drive was a case in pointAmina's story is set in the time frame of the family's migration from Bombay in India during the Partition The historical detail was fascinating for me How a country due to the dictates of first the British was just divided entire families communities being uprooted and said now you are Pakistani now you are Indian The administrative chaos that must have ensued The documentation for each individual must have been a nightmare but survive all this they did and families like Amina's moved to Karachi and made a life there for themselvesThe new migrants were not all that welcome They brought with them a different culture and a different way of life and were looked on as outsiders for decades The partition of Pakistan the division and declaration of Bangladesh as a separate country and the Islamization of Pakistan with its strict Shariat law are all part of this story The story of the different politicians of Pakistan and what part they played in what Pakistan is today is also detailed in the story The rise and fall of most of the Presidents of Pakistan is a turbulent story in itself full of violence and upheaval and military coups and families lived survived and prospered within this frameworkI loved the writing of this story I liked the detail I liked the fact that I was reading something which actually happened and will continue to happen in Asian families upto date

  4. Lisa Lisa says:

    I'd really rate this book a solid 25 stars if I could but not 3 What is it about this nonlinear storytelling? I don't understand why the author jumps back and forth among the 1940's 1960's 1970's and current events It's distracting and annoying I also expected to learn about an account of a woman living the life of first wife in a polygamous relationship The book sort of did that and the word history is in the title But the book is about the history of Pakistan Which is fine if I weren't expecting something else Worse is that the family history ran parallel to national history The two didn't complement each other or intersect at all They could have just been two separate books Not terribly creative at all

  5. Anum S. Anum S. says:

    The soiled country had to be sanctified again and the ceremony took place on May 16 1991 A new prime minister clean and pure as only a man could be had introduced a bill that would allow the country to expiate for the sin of electing a womanIt’s so disappointing to be disappointed by Rafia Zakaria’s writing because I was expecting it to be if not the best thing I had ever read at least better than what it turned out to be And what’s even frustrating is that I think this book could have done much better as two books one related to the politics and the other about Zakaria’s aunt Of course I’m guessing that there’s probably a good reason why Zakaria and her editor and publisher and whoever else was involved in this endeavour thought it was a good idea to juxtapose the two major threads of these two completely unrelated narratives into one but it just didn’t work Primarily because except for a few singular exceptions where the two plotlines complemented each other most of the book displayed a complete divergence in terms of the tone theme andor events unfolding in each of their respective corners If well handled this had the potential to be brilliant Unfortunately it wasn’tZakaria seems to have plotted it so that throughout the book the two stories or rather two non fiction accounts are being unspooled side by side On the one hand we have the story of Aunt Amina the author’s phuppo who had to suffer the indignity of her husband choosing to marry again because she couldn’t bear him any children It is her position as the titular ‘upstairs wife’ that Zakaria uses as a vehicle to take a fascinating look at the way patriarchy culture and religion combine together to treat women less as a being with agency and feelings and as a child bearing machine The purpose of a marriage was a child The purpose of bearing children was to eventually bear a male child The purpose of a male child was to be an heirThe other half of the book details Pakistan’s history stretching from partition up until the moment of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination in 2007 one of the many turning points in Pakistan’s tumultuous political history In turns using a tone horrified or wry Zakaria lays down the bare facts of the major events in the country’s history which have been turbulent enough to make us pity every Pakistan Studies student out there With regularly attempted coups martial law implementation hanged prime ministers and assassinated leaders among the few scandalous things the past few decades can offer us Pakistan has an overabundance of titillating political drama enough to keep any non fiction writer worth their salt in the business for a while Unfurled before a Parliament of men clad in pristine white tunics and vests tailored to hug rotund bellies the Enforcement of Shariat Act declared itself the supreme law of Pakistan The act next declared that all Muslim citizens were reuired to follow Shariat and that the state under auspices of the act would insure that Shariat was taught in schools practiced in law courts and dominant in matters of state economics and exchange Swooning with repentance no one seemed to notice that the act neglected to say what Shariat was or which version of Shariat among the many existing schools and subschools of Islamic thought and countless splinter groups would determine these important uestionsIt is clear enough if you read the two parts as separate entities that Zakaria can write really well There is a visible ease in the flow of the writing and a certain amount of command over the words she uses Read enough books and it becomes easy to identify the confident writer versus the one who waffles over each and every word; Zakaria seems to fall into the former category which might be the main reason why this book managed to not fall into the black void of books I hated with a passion In parts where I wanted the book to just finish already so that I could get to better interesting novels it was the writing that kept me reading instead of forcing me to slot this book into the ‘books I’ll probably never finish’ pile She disappointed not because she was pretty or even ugly or interesting or boring or tall or short or intelligent looking or bearing on her forehead the telling mark of the simpleminded She was a shock because she was so unremarkable so lacking in anything special that as a result she became an affront to the provocative idea we had constructed in her place Uncle Sohail’s second wife was like the lady you might meet at a visit to the next door neighbors’ or like the woman you could join with in accusing the tomato seller of being an extortionist or like someone you might greet respectfully as the mother of some girl who was a friend of a friend In her bland regularity she was an accusation as vexing and confusing as the betrayal she representedThe problem then wasn’t the writing but the content which lacked any incentive to keep the reader reading Now since I’m not a very regular non fiction reader I’m going to go with the fairly basic assumption that non fiction doesn’t follow the same pattern of introduction rising action climax and ending that a normal novel follows In which case how exactly does nonfiction claim to retain the casual reader? I’m not talking about the people who have a vested interest in learning and retaining the information presented in these kinds of books but rather the browser who picks these books up just for the sake of it This is clearly the kind of detailed discussion I need to have with my friends but for reference’s sake I’m just going to list here all the concerns I have with this form of writing the most primary of those being the sharing of really really personal information While most autobiographical writing has the advantage of the person controlling exactly what is being said about them I just can’t help but wonder how in this particular case the author’s aunt feels about having her dirty laundry aired so very publicly While I’m all for a clear honest look at the suffering women endure caused by the convoluted brutal conditions placed by patriarchy we really get into the nitty gritty of Aunty Amina’s sorrow here in a way which makes me both horrified and a little bit embarrassed for her One day a visiting older lady assessed my aunt’s dejection and rendered her verdict before us all Aunt Amina owed her husband gratitude The children of the new wife would brighten her life; she had no right to weep and make it out to be such a tragedyI also always wonder how the other people being named and shamed in biographical content feel about how they are being depicted I mean in this case it’s not a very hard stretch to guess that Zakaria’s aunt must have provided a significant amount of the details of the things that happened especially since lots of things involved only her presence and those of people whose perspectives are never shown But how do the other characters such as Amina’s sister in law who initially loves Amina but then becomes dismissive and condescending after her brother’s second marriage feel about how they are shown? In this case the sister in law Aziza is just one example of the multiple people whose depictions are sometimes flattering but sometimes not really not at all and I’m left wondering what are the lines which shouldn’t be crossed in such a method of storytelling and how much of the author’s own opinions are allowed to colour the writing The jolly woman who brought gifts and lavished praise had vanished once the new bride had been installed in her brother’s home The new Aunt Aziza expected complete submission from her youngest brother’s wife and daily devotion which spanned from a morning phone call to ask after her health to a full meal cooked and sent to her home every Friday On Sundays all the wives of her brothers were expected to pay homage to their matriarch digest her evaluations of their lives praise her children and often even clean her house No detail was too private for years Aziza Apa had been inuiring every month before all gathered whether Aunt Amina was pregnantI’ll admit though that Zakaria doesn’t really try to insert herself into the narrative much Most of what she shares has to do with her ancestor’s journey from India to Pakistan leading up to her Aunt’s marriage and then the disgraceful second marriage Even though in some ways it helps give a veneer of impartiality to the overall account I personally felt that the parts where the writing shone the best was where the author got personal about her own thoughts and feelings Mostly this has to do with the fact that in the parts that she did get personal she talked in a frank and open manner about how life has treated her differently because of her gender which is a conversation I’m always willing to engage in And because instead of being didactic and insufferable she made it part of the story she was telling I found it even interesting to read The window of the upstairs bedroom from which Amina first saw Sohail became mine I shared the room with my brother but the window was mine alone as only one of us felt compelled to look outside Not permitted to roam the streets like my brother the window was my avenue to the world beyond our houseUnfortunately we don’t spend a lot of time with Zakaria herself veering back into boring territory pretty much regularly And while one could assume that the parts of me that grow impatient with non fiction would have suffered the truth of the matter is that Aunt Amina’s portion of the tale also sometimes dragged There’s only so many ways you can talk about the unfairness of a second wife before the chronicle starts to lag and I found myself losing interest about halfway into the book Maybe that’s a pretty heartless thing to say but a large portion of my reading experience was spent wondering when the good parts of the writing were going to appear And while they would appear briefly they would also disappear as uickly as they had come Overall then I’d say it’s an okay read Maybe a bit interesting for the non Pakistani reader for whom Zakaria spends a lot of time explaining things that any Pakistani would already know about Maybe some parts of it important for those who have no idea of the realities of trying to survive in Pakistan’s patriarchal society But generally I’d say only those who are truly interested should bother reading this And as a parting note I’m going to share a uote here which managed to so perfectly describe the complications that define the politics of living in Karachi that I actually highlighted it while reading I’ve always been honest and transparent about liking authors who seem to truly understand Karachi the city where I’ve lived my whole life Because there are already so many stereotypes out there about Muslims and Pakistanis these particular gifts of writing where I suddenly read something that makes me stop and think ‘Yes that is the essence of Karachi’ are particularly heart warming While Zakaria didn’t mould Karachi into a personality the way other authors have done she definitely gets those few extra points for understanding the intricacies of its streets It was not enough to be born in Karachi to be from Karachi It was not enough to live in Karachi to be from Karachi It was also not enough to be born in Karachi and to live in Karachi to be from Karachi To be from Karachi you had to prove that your father and preferably his father before him had been born in Karachi and lived in Karachi and therefore were from Karachi If you were from Karachi by these markers you could claim to be from Sindh the province in which Karachi was located If you could claim to be from Sindh you could claim a lot —a larger uota for government jobs a larger uota for seats in government colleges a larger uota on belonging and so a greater chance of making your life in Karachi as comfortable as possibleORIGINAL REVIEWWhat is it with all these cool Pakistani writers letting me down? UghReview to come

  6. Jeanette Jeanette says:

    No star rating because I did not get far enough It skips around so freuently and from 1986 to 2007 to whatever era and in placement to locale as well No continuity The history of Pakistan is set within the copy of her Aunt's story her story her childhood dogma and 1000 other related context to polygamy or legal issues but none of them connect to make a literate progression Not for me to dig out the author's tale amongst 20 others

  7. Elizabeth Theiss Elizabeth Theiss says:

    A memoir of growing up in Karachi The Upstairs Wife gives context to the life of women behind the walls of a middle class Muslim home in one of Pakistan's great cities where men make the decisions and women accept the conseuences Aunt Amina is given in marriage by a contract negotiated by her male relatives who didn't think to inuire about the possibility of her spouse acuiring a second wife When Amina tries to return in protest she is sent back to the husband who divides his time religiously between the upstairs and downstairs wivesIt's hard for a westerner to comprehend the complete discounting is the value of women in contemporary Pakistan Benazir Bhutto seemed like a harbinger of a new order for women But she was fairly uickly cut down to size and ultimately assassinated not the only woman to pay for stepping outside a woman's role in this book Stoning is the penalty for adultery and a woman's word has only half the weight of a man's word in Shariat courts Jealous husbands with or without what a western court would accept as good evidence have it easy The other side of women's life in Pakistan is the comfort of family the clear knowledge of what is expected and the rituals of daily life Zakaria's accounts of everyday events like shopping cooking and gossip are rich in detail and beautiful Wedding feasts Ramzan women's gatherings under cover of prayer meetings and even the ritual goat slaughter and sharing are well worth reading Zakaria's story ends differently that the average Pakistani's She is a feminist who left and achieved a university degree and international stature Fortunately she allows women's stories to speak for themselves The stories are powerful but left me wondering how Pakistan's women might emerge beyond traditional life to claim lives of their own

  8. Karen Karen says:

    Received as a Goodreads complimentary title Excellent book Well written non fiction that pulls you into the culture and history of Pakistan Easy to read and matches the national events with direct happenings into Zakaria's author's own family A descriptive point of reference into Pakistan Recommended for readers interested in recent history eastern events Taliban women's rights and extemist Islam

  9. Jeanne Jeanne says:

    A Goodreads and Beacon Press Giveaway Thank You The Upstairs Wife is a thought provoking and well written story of life in Pakistan It is a memoir of Pakistan’s unsettled history and a family’s polygamist marriage The women’s stories of their uncertain future were of particular interest The story provides us with a little understanding of life in a troubled part of the world as seen through the author’s eyes Beautifully told I highly recommend this book

  10. Jessica Leight Jessica Leight says:

    This is a somewhat odd book a combination of a family memoir and an episodic history of Pakistan It's engaging but only in a superficial way The historical anecdotes are rather sparse and it's not possible to construct any clear or illuminating narrative about the recent history of Pakistan The familial sections are a pleasure to read though I did feel somewhat blindsided by the final revelation that the marriage at the heart of the narrative was seemingly a sham in the sense the husband was indifferent to the whole relationship I also wish the author had given us of a sense of her own perspective though she witnesses all the events we are left to wonder what conclusions she drew from Amina's experience

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