My feudal lord by Tehmina Durrani
October 22 2021 · 4 min read
There will be a great imbalance in our strength if you fight because I’m prepared to die and you are desperate to live. (Tehmina Durrani)
Every woman in this conservative and patriarchal society has to suffer disappointment and frustration which arise from social, cultural, and religious limitations. Every woman has to go through all the odds and obstacles to keep her honor and dignity safe and remain silent despite the atrocities and inhuman acts by the male. In this male-dominated society, women are forced to suppress themselves over the dominant male members, and as a result, male members think of themselves as Lord.
My feudal lord is a feminist autobiography that has created much chaos and controversy when it was published in 1991. Authoress of this book Tehmina Durrani is an eminent social activist and has worked for women and children's rights because she became a victim of social, cultural, and religious oppression herself. she faced despotism even though she belongs to an elite family who has a great political background.
My feudal lord was greatly criticized and got banned in Egypt and Pakistan because some details and heartrending truths about Muslim women were exposed by Tehmina Durrani.
This autobiographical novel talks about some social issues which were greatly considered as social taboos in the past. She was not only criticized by the people but the worst thing about the incident was, her father disowned her after the novel’s publication. Through her novel, she gave rise to feminism which is not culturally acceptable in a conservative society. there is a myth that Muslim women cannot favor feminism that simply means that a feminist is not a Muslim woman. Furthermore, she faced discrimination from a very young age and had a difficult childhood relationship with her mother which made her strong enough to break the tradition of silence.
Tehmina Durrani was like the ugly duckling because her mother Samina came from an anglicized family and for her mother, an attractive outward appearance was more important than genuine feelings. About this Tehmina writes ”only over time would I come to understand what a shock I was to my mother”. In a racial society like Pakistan, she broke the tradition of silence and exposed the cruel nature of feudal lords.
My feudal lord is not merely a novel. It is a blend of vibrant colors and dark shades including love, politics, empowerment, sufferings, and survival. In this novel, Tehmina Durrani describes her traumatic married life with Mustafa Khar who was an eminent politician in the Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s government and was called as his right hand, and later he became the chief minister of Punjab. Tehmina divorced her first husband Anees to marry Mustafa Khar because she fell in love with him. She was expecting a happy married life without knowing the true character of Mustafa Khar and soon her fairy tale turned into a nightmare.
This autobiographical novel is divided into three parts(1)lion of Punjab(2)laws of jungle(3)lioness.
(1)lion of Punjab:
In the first part of the novel, Tehmina Exposes the true nature of Mustafa Khar Who was a cruel, unsophisticated, and disloyal husband. Tehmina’s Upbringing by a patriarchal Society forced her to accept her husband’s cruelties and physical assaults and she endures these attacks Thinking of them as predestined sufferings.
(2)-laws of jungle: This part of the novel talks about the political chaos and turmoil caused by general Zia UL Haq, overthrowing the government of prime minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. Mustafa Khar who was a Bhutto loyalist promised to bring some important documents for the total liquidation of Bhutto’s government and he decided to remain loyal to the Bhutto’s government. They started living in an apartment owned by Tehmina’s parents who always wished and want their daughter and son-in-law to live happily.
Although her parents were against the marriage but later they accepted Mustafa with all his flaws and cruelties.
During this time Mustafa started seducing Tehmina’s younger sister Adela. He promised to marry her but broke up with her later and tortured her physically and mentally. Hence, she faced humiliation and pain in silence because everyone including her family was not going to support her.
(3)-lioness: In the final part of this novel she decided to speak up on behalf of all the women living in repressive Islamic societies and bear everything in silence. By breaking the tradition of silence she exposes the deepest personal secrets of her life and finally, she applies for the Islamic” khula” or divorce. It was at this time when she began to write an autobiography as she was transformed into a more strong, independent, and courageous woman, and thus she dedicates her strong character to this closed and repressive society.
She writes” silence condones injustice, breeds subservience and foster malignant hypocrisy. Mustafa Khar and other feudal lords thrive and multiply on silence. Muslim women must learn to raise their voices against injustice.