The Art of the Boat

The Lake Chelan Guide to Water Sports

Grab the gear, hitch up the trailer, and head to Lake Chelan when you want to escape to your own floating paradise. Whether you’re looking for high-speed thrills, letting the Boating and Watersports on Lake Chelanwind take your sails, or an anchored fishing float, Lake Chelan offers ample opportunities to get you and your watercraft wet. Located in the center of Washington State between National Forests and the Columbia River Valley, Lake Chelan stretches 55.5 miles from Chelan on the southeast shore to the remote village of Stehekin on the opposite northwest end and is the gateway to the North Cascades.

The lake is only 1.5 miles at its widest and boasts depths of over 1500 feet. This long thin sliver of a lake was carved by glaciers millions of years ago, and is still fed today mostly by glacial runoff from within the North Cascades National Park. The melting ice and snow makes its way down the valley flowing into Lake Chelan then on to the mighty Columbia River.

Jet Skis on Lake ChelanThere are sections of the lake perfect for all types of water sports, from calm inlets to anchor up and fish or enjoy the views and soak up the rays on a sunny afternoon, to stretches for high speed powerboats for wake boarding, water skiing, tubing, and even parasailing. Raise the sails and catch the wind, especially up lake in the Lucerne Basin and near Stehekin where winds are the most consistent.Kayaking in Stehekin on Lake Chelan

Prefer a more personal connection with the lake? Drop your canoe or kayak at the lake’s edge and get ready to paddle to your heart’s content. There’s so much lake to explore from rocky islands and high vertical bluffs, to uninhabited beaches and miles of natural untouched shoreline. Or, fire up the jet skis and soar across the lake with the wind in your hair and the water crashing at your feet.

From the low perspective of the water, enjoy spectacular views of rolling hills covered with fruit orchards, vineyards, and colorful Graces Oasis Boat Charters on Lake Chelanwildflowers, towering ridgelines, and old-growth forests. The shimmering blue waters of Lake Chelan and the surrounding wilderness never disappoint.

There are 5 public boat launches along Lake Chelan, a couple year round and a couple seasonal, including at Riverwalk Park, Lake Chelan State Park, Lakeshore Marina, Old Mill Park, and Twenty-Five Mile Creek Campground. Below is a full map of launches, docks, pump-out, and refueling stations on Lake Chelan.

Boat Launch and Boat-In Campsites on Lake Chelan

There are several businesses in the area that provide boating services and rent watercraft and water play accessories including boats, water skis, wakeboards, tubes, scuba gear, Wake Surfing on Lake Chelanpaddle boards, canoes, kayaks, fishing gear, and more. Make plans to spend a day on the lake with friends and family for a day full of adventure, relaxation, and endless fun. If the largeness of the lake seems a little intimidating, check out some of the smaller side lakes including Wapato Lake and Roses Lake near Manson, or the Chelan River easily accessed from Riverwalk Park in downtown Chelan.

With average summer daytime highs in the mid-80’s, and an average of 300 sunny days a year, chances are good that the weather will be absolutely gorgeous for your day on the lake. And with the length of our summer days, you can easily spend 12 Starry Nights on Lake Chelanhours or more on the water in a single day! Sunny days give way to beautiful red sunsets and gorgeous starry nights.

As with any boating activity, safety is a priority. Always remember to wear an approved personal flotation device, and observe the boat and water use regulations for the City of Chelan and Chelan County which are in place to help ensure everyone returns home safely. A brochure is available at the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center, or by calling the Chelan County Sheriff at (509) 663-9911. Drivers of boats or personal watercraft must be at least 14 years of age, per Washington State regulations. State law requires boat operators to carry a Washington State Boater Education card when operating motorboats with 15 horsepower or greater (including personal watercraft or any motorized watercraft).

Stehekin Boat DockBoaters who use federal docks on Lake Chelan will be required to display a “Lake Chelan Federal Dock Site Permit.” A daily permit costs $5.00 while a season pass costs $40.00. Ten dock sites managed by the U.S. Forest Service and five by the National Park Service require dock site permits. Contact the Lake Chelan Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center for more information on obtaining dock site permits.

If you plan to fish, check with the Department of Fish and Wildlife for license requirements and limits at (360) 902-2200. The Lake Chelan fishing season is open year round and offers amazing opportunities to reel in up to 20 lbs Chinook Salmon and Lake Trout. Find out more about the amazing fishing opportunities at Lake Chelan.

See you on the water!

from Lake Chelan


Naltar – Stuck between trekking anguishes and scenic bliss

It has been a month since my university life ended, and to be honest, the alumnus status on my LUMS student ID card still unnerves me.  The hostel life,the  overwhelming independence,the never-ending sleepovers, the shopping sprees for the peculiar paindu day and daaku (thief) day, and the all night ‘chilling’ sessions at the khokha (canteen), not to forget the extensive travelling, are some of the best and irreplaceable experiences a student can ever have.

The travelling came in the form of flights from Lahore to Karachi and vice versa, each time introducing me to strangers and immediately churning them into friends over a brief period of a and hour and 45 minutes flight. Some were entrepreneurs and business women who lured me in with their success stories and potential job opportunities, others were hard-core travellers who had trekked as far as the K2 base camp, and yet others were students from minority groups, who I actively discussed the 18th amendment and blasphemy laws with. The travelling also came in the form of bus rides, as I often availed the Daewoo bus service. The experience was great, thanks to the bus hostess, the small lunch box, Wifi, and people from all socio-political backgrounds which paved my way out of the ‘LUMS bubble’.

However, the travelling that trumps all is the trekking trip to Naltar I partook this May. The first step was to register for the trip. Standing in the queue, all night in order to register at 8 am sharp made many rethink about the trip. As soon as the registration process was completed, our group of 25 was sure that this was going to be the only easy part of the trip. But little did we know.

Now that we had scored a place on the trip, the preparations began. Research about the weather and the terrain is mandatory. Of course there are the exaggerators, the hypochondriacs and the pseudo-trekkers, who are forever ready to bestow their trip advices on you. Choose carefully, for bad advice haunts you for a long time in the mountainous area and cursing becomes inevitable.

Search for trekking equipment became the most important task for us. Items such as down jackets, backpacks, trekking joggers, water-proof pants, gaiters, trekking poles heralded the campus, definitely not less deathlier than the Hunger Games, because of course, having the best equipment added to a trekker’s pride.

Trekkers spotted sporting their flamboyant equipment in the valley. Photo Credit: Maryam Zaidi

Naltar is a valley, 40 kilometers away from Gilgit-Baltistan. The terrain was inclusive of barren and snow-capped mountains, forests, lakes, streams and narrow-stoned ridges. Not only was fitting the aforementioned trekking equipment in the bags a task in itself, the bumpy bus ride spanning above 25 hours from Lahore to Islamabad and then from Islamabad to Besham was enough to stunt your backbone.

An overnight stay at the PTDC motel in Besham, proved to be a great source of comfort, especially coupled with a dinner comprising of warm naans and delicious qeema. The next day, the journey of tattered roads and never-ending bus rides resulted in our arrival at Gilgit, from where the group of 25 was shuttled to the valley in two HiAces.

This was the last form of transport to be seen for the next four days and it was time to brace our feet. Naltar’s specialty is the constantly changing scenic beauty, which mostly comprised of meadows and green pastures on our first day. The pastures became much livelier, thanks to invariable drizzling. At the end of day one, we camped. Five people stuffed into a camp near one of the famous three lakes of Naltar. The porters helped us set up our tents and a small place for themselves to warm the food, which was carried in barrels. Using the bathroom in the bushes alone at night when everyone is fast asleep with the sound of wildlife in the background  makes your jaw tremble, and the only light in the distance is  the narrow beam from your small flashlight, is one experience, the less spoken about, the better.

A tinsel boat floating in the distance in a lake in Naltar. Photo Credit: Maryam Zaidi

One of the many serene lakes in Naltar valley. Photo Credit: Maryam Zaidi

Tents set up on Day 1 of reaching the Naltar valley. Photo Credit: Maryam Zaidi

Day two comprised of our search for a new campsite, closer to the Lower Shani and a seven-hour trek to the Upper Shani. The narrow pathways on the mountains, slippery snowy surfaces, sometimes only fit to accommodate one pair of feet at a time. The trek to Upper Shani had me convinced me I was going to die, but my own ingenious technique of sliding down these pathways ensured my safety. Even though the trek was worth the sight we witnessed at the end, I’m still envious of those who stayed back at the camp and slept at the serene campsite in peace, while we endured hours of hardship.

Caught smiling while sliding down fatal pathways.Photo Credit: Maryam Zaidi

On day four, the group and I camped near the most beautiful lake in Naltar itself, where the bonfire was kept alit by our constant log investments, helping us through the night, especially because the temperature had fallen to a great extent.

Campsite on Day 3 , near a crystal clear lake. Photo Credit: Maryam Zaidi

To celebrate the beauty of the lake, a solo photo shoot of each of the ‘trekkers’ followed.

View while carrying out the descent. Photo Credit: Maryam Zaidi

The snow capped mountains surrounding the valley. Photo Credit: Maryam Zaidi

The following morning, as we were cleaning the campsite, packing our bags in order to make our way back to HiAce, marking the end of our stay at Naltar, I knew the valley had me love struck for life.

from The Express Tribune Blog

Pakistanis’ love for the succulent kofta curry

The kofta curry, also known as the meatballs curry, is a sophisticated dish. It is not as most of us tend to believe, indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. Delicious meatball dishes and meat loafs can be found in various Middle-Eastern, central Asian, Turkish, and Mediterranean cuisines. There is no fixed size of meatballs; it varies from the size of an orange to the size of a golf ball.

The word ‘kofta’ is derived from the classical Persian verb kōftan which means ‘to beat’ or to mince. Hence the grounded meat is mixed with a range of spices. Koftas can include variety of fillings, thus it may or may not be made of meat. For instance, vegetarian koftas are famous in India; they are filled with paneer (hung cheese) or with potatoes and zucchini.

Interestingly enough, fish and shrimp koftas are also enjoyed in certain parts of the world. Koftas are commonly served with a rich curry in Pakistan and according to the traditions, formal dinners are not complete without the succulent kofta curry. Our kofta curries are commonly made of mutton, chicken or beef mince, and we occasionally stuff the meat ball with hardboiled egg. This is similar to the Nargisi Kofta dish; the difference being that the eggs are not coated with meat. Kofta curries are enjoyed with rice, but a variety of flat breads can also compliment the dish.

So today, I would like to share my mother’s mouth–watering recipe of the delicious kofta curry.


For koftas (meatballs):

Mincemeat – ½ kg (beef, mutton or chicken)

Onion – 1 ½ (finely chopped)

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp

Coriander powder – 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder – ¼tsp

Garam masala (ground spices) powder – ½ tsp

Pea flour – 2 tbsp (roasted and grinded)

Khashkhash (poppy seeds) – 2 tbsp

Salt – 1 tsp


Ginger and Garlic paste – ½ tbsp

For curry:

Oil – ¼ cup

Onion – 1 ½ (finely chopped)

Ginger and Garlic paste – ½ tbsp

Whole black pepper – 5 to 6

Tomatoes – 2 (large and blended)

Coriander powder – 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp

Yogurt – 1 cup (whipped)


Boiled eggs (optional)


For koftas: (Around 14 to 15 meatballs can be made using this mixture)

1. Take the minced meat and add chopped onions and ginger garlic paste.

2. Add the spices to the meat mixture: red chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and garam masala powder.

3. Grind the split pea flour and khashkhash together by adding a bit of water so it forms a thick paste.

4. Add the paste to the meat mixture, along with salt and a little oil.

5. Mix the mixture well with your hands so it makes a smooth unvarying texture. (This can also be done using a food processor).

6. Now slightly oil your hands and make golf ball-sizes meatballs. Set them aside on a plate.

For curry:

1. Take a pot which has a considerably bigger surface area on medium to high heat.

2. Add oil along chopped onions and fry them until they turn golden (not brown).

3. Add whole black pepper and ginger garlic paste and fry for two minutes.

4. Add tomatoes, coriander powder, red chilli powder and turmeric powder.

5. Cover and cook until the tomatoes are tender. This should take about five to six minutes on medium heat.

6. Add whipped yogurt, then cover the pot again for another five to six minutes.

7. Stir on medium–high heat, until the curry is thick and smooth.

8. Now lower the flame to medium–low and add your meatballs.

9. Do not mix or use a spoon for any purpose; just add them to the curry and cover the pot for about 15 minutes.

10. Turn the meatballs to check if it’s cooked all around and cover the pot for another five to seven minutes.

11. Add water for lighter gravy at this point and let it cook on low heat by keeping the pot covered until the oil floats on top.

12. You can add boiled eggs cut in half before serving.

Enjoy the delicious kofta curry with plain rice or flatbread!

from The Express Tribune Blog

Some of us cannot afford the hijab of today

There is a school named The Clifton High School which is not in Karachi but in New Jersey, USA, and Abrar Shahin is a Muslim student of Palestinian descent who recently graduated from this school. Sincere congratulations and best wishes in her subsequent career to the young lady who appears to possess a strong sense of identity since her photograph shows her wearing a hijab, and who is about to present us with what I hope, a healthy debate.

In the hormone-charged atmosphere of high schools, where girls dress quite revealingly, it takes conviction to cover your head with a scarf at all times. In her year book, Ms Shahin was seen wearing skinny jeans, ankle-high boots and a cropped white blazer in her yearbook photo, and if you look at her photograph, you will find that she is also meticulously made up with eyeliner, mascara, the works, the cosmetics, as a reporter for puts it perfectly,

“Capped with plum-toned lip stick.”

It is interesting but not unusual. My children also went to a high school in the US where there were other girls similarly dressed in tight jeans, fully made up, but also wearing a hijab. My own daughter, whose mother did not agree with hijabs, did not wear one, and her jeans and tops were relaxed and not as fitted. I cannot recall her ever wearing make up to high school.

So tell me, not because I wish to be judgmental, heaven forbid, but because being human I am tired of some people flaunting a halo in addition to a hijab and I need this outburst, what is the purpose of a hijab?

Is it not worn to prevent men paying attention to a woman’s charms?  And is that all there is to be modest about in a woman’s body, the hair on her head? Is there not, if one must be obsessed with the subject, the face, the figure, and a lot else that constitutes female charm? I knew someone, my father in fact, who never considered a woman beautiful unless her feet were clean and well kept. And someone else who felt that there was nothing more attractive than a woman who wore a light perfume and nothing more off putting than one who wore something strong ‘like Charlie’ is what he said to be exact.

I suppose from some quarters the response will be that this is why women should be (according to them) covered from head to toe – incarcerated.

I know a very nice lady. She is covered from head to toe in what she tells me are mostly French chiffons. That, in my book, encapsulates the matter quite neatly. There is nothing more elitist, nothing that contributes more to the ‘great divide’ than such ‘pardah’. Only the rich, the very rich can afford to be quite so ‘religious’ which should make us question if that, after all, is what was intended by the religious requirement of modesty, to question the definition of ‘pardah’.

The rest of us who have to earn a living, who have to live with the curse of power load-shedding and who cannot afford fabric that drapes and breathes as well as chiffon either die under such incarcerating conditions (Karachi heat wave) or live a bit less encumbered if modestly, and rely on our own lungs not the abaya to do the breathing.

As an aside, please allow me to tell you that the fully incarcerated lady cannot exercise in her driveway as she used to in her pre-incarcerated days because of the chowkidar (security guard), so she must now do so in a gym. Also that she carries a spare set of slippers in her car in case they visit a home where she must sit in the same room as the men. In that case she wears the stodgy pair; otherwise she wears the prettier ones.  It is mind-boggling, is it not, how much thought in addition to cash goes into incarceration?

I am struck by the sentiment and the utter dedication to the subject of sexuality. But think for a moment. The world has come to a stage now where people eat breakfast on the hoof. While I do not agree with this other extreme of lifestyle, it gives some idea of how busy a world it now is. How much there is to achieve, and how much one has to adapt to get out of this rut we have fallen into. Our country is perilously short of water, power, education, justice, funds, political stability, women and children’s rights, health facilities, nearly everything. And we are stuck, mired, up to our heads in abayas, hijabs, trailing dupattas (the mind boggles in what all these trail in) and nothing but.

I am a woman. I dress well, and modestly enough. My son would never, ever treat a woman with disrespect much less hoot and whistle at one. I think this is the real pardah. Sometimes the route to self-respect and dignity is via both sexes, with the aid of nothing more than a bit of decency and common sense. A shroud is not required.

from The Express Tribune Blog

You don’t have to celebrate homosexuality, but please don’t be a homophobe

The landmark Supreme Court judgment was definitely not going to go unnoticed in Pakistan. It was obvious that it was going to get widespread support in Pakistan as well. I was surprised to even see a few people drape their profile pictures in the rainbow colours in unity. However, the copious amounts of vitriol directed towards those people were vastly unwarranted and totally unnecessary.

Nobody is requiring every single person in the world to celebrate pride but there is no reason to berate people doing so. You are free to express yourself but your freedom of speech does not extend to having a right to opinion, asking for other people to die. Freedom of speech is almost always subservient to the freedom of life and liberty.

Neither do you have to necessarily belong to the community to support their cause. I can support the Black civil rights movement, even though they are not Muslim or follow Muslim practices. Similarly, I can realise the struggle of the LGBTQ movement and choose to celebrate a day where the members of those community were granted legal equality.

These people have suffered massive amounts of persecution for centuries, all for the right to freely love who they want to and to be legally recognised for doing so, to enjoy all legal benefits that are enjoyed by any other couple.

It may not be religiously permitted in Islam but neither is consuming alcohol or charging interest. Why is nobody crying out on Facebook that every single person in the world supporting the banking system deserves to die or that the United States of America will be doomed because consuming alcohol is legal there?

Why is all our hate focused towards a clearly marginalised group of people? People who clearly don’t have a choice, who are biologically wired to be who they are and who only want the right to live as who they are. How can we deem any behaviour to be natural, normative or normal? If God chose to create somebody a certain way, who are we to question God?

Rather than predicting doom and gloom, let’s practice humility and realise that none of us know better than God. I missed the Game of Thrones episode where Hamza Ali Abbasi was denoted to be the high septum of Pakistan but his comparison of homosexuality and incest is completely unfounded. I do not support or celebrate incest, but incest was essential to create humanity. No rule is absolute, therefore, we should be careful before presuming to speak on behalf of God.

Humility would mean that anytime we are faced with the choice to choose between choosing to love and choosing to hate, we should always opt for love. Unfortunately, the amount of hate in Pakistan has sky rocketed over the past few years. There are rallies against the celebration of festivals; everything is declared haram (forbidden) in the name of religion, without realising that Islam is an inclusive religion. It is a religion of peace and acceptance, not militarism.

Our resistance comes simply from homophobia, but let me reassure you Hamza Ali Abbasi, just by telling your 12-year-old nephew what gay is will not magically change his sexual orientation. We need to be less insecure about our heterosexuality. If you think that this is the normative behavioural practice, then why do you fear telling people what gay is?

Putting up rainbow flags does not spread homosexuality and this is not a global conspiracy to make people gay. It is a practice as old as time itself. It has been accepted in many cultures throughout history. What is recent though, is homophobia.

Homophobia is not even intrinsic to our region or culture.

There was an acceptance of the practice in the subcontinent before the advent of the British and Christian missionaries. Cross-dressing has been practiced for ages in the Indian subcontinent and hijras (transgender people) have been revered historically.  We were historically more progressive and accepting than the West, but colonialism set us back centuries and we are still grappling with the post-colonial mind-set.

You don’t have to be a homosexual, you do not have to even celebrate homosexuality, but please don’t be a homophobe. Realise that there are other people in the world different than you, and that is completely alright.

#LoveWins does not mean everyone has to engage in the same kind of love. Whatever you think love is, practice that, practice it freely and do not let haters bring you down.

from The Express Tribune Blog

Move over Pakistan vs India, there’s a new rivalry in town

With back-to-back victories on their home ground against Zimbabwe, Pakistan, and India, Bangladeshi cricket fans have witnessed some of the best days watching their team play. The fans would say that beating Zimbabwe was predictable, but victories against two big teams, Pakistan and India, are what matters most.

Asia will not always solely be about India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. A Champions Trophy spot is confirmed for Bangladesh and now the battle is between one of the big teams to fight it out against West Indies for the last spot.

Only a year and half ago, Bangladesh had failed to impress many during the Asia Cup on their home ground; female spectators cried when the chance of Shahid Afridi being caught out was lost and Shakib Al Hasan told Bangladeshi spectators not to have too many expectations from them.

Photo: AFP

This was the least bit encouraging, especially after Bangladesh had knocked India and Sri Lanka out in the previous Asia Cup and had lost the series by only two runs against Pakistan in the final. The final loss had resulted in some tears in the Bangladeshi camp and people were heard saying that while other teams win games, Bangladesh wins hearts only.

Photo: AFP

Shakib, who is always in the charts as a number one all-rounder, threatened to quit international T20 cricket in July 2014. Earlier that year, he had been banned from a few games because of a crude gesture towards a cameraman.

Eventually, things started turning around for the good. A new coach was hired, Shakib and Tamim Iqbal were rightfully reprimanded by the board to fix their game and attitude, rather than being thrown out of the team for their inconsistent performances. The extent to which the cricket board supported them is marvelous; they even gave them the huge responsibility of vice captaincy.

Captaincy was handed over to the experienced Mashrafe Mortaza and this gave Mushfiqur Rahim enough space to concentrate on his wicket-keeping and batting, and finally, their unfortunate winless streak ended in November 2014 in a match against Zimbabwe.

Photo: AFP

More than anything, this highlighted that a team needs their best cricketers playing for them, rather than throwing them out. This is what good management is about. Shakib, Iqbal and Rahim are not only experienced players now, but they are also at par with the modern-day requirements of the game.

Along came the World Cup 2015, where Bangladesh left us with countless amazing memories, from the controversy surrounding Rubel Hossain to knocking out England from the World Cup, which resulted in a makeover for the England cricket team.

However, what really spiced things up was the quarter-final between India and Bangladesh. Although India managed to win, there were all sorts of allegations made by the Bangladeshi cricket fans and politicians. Mustafa Kamal even resigned as the International Cricket Council (ICC) president. Some intense moments during the match added fuel to the entire story when there was what seemed to be a heated eye contact between Virat Kohli and Hossain.

Photo: AFP

However, playing a quarter-final in Australian conditions is not an easy feat and it was an achievement for the tigers.

After the World Cup, they comfortably beat Pakistan in the Bangladesh and Pakistan series. Pakistan was completely whitewashed in the ODI and the T20 series. Shakib was already flying high and now they could rightfully boast about their wins against a well-established team, such as Pakistan. He is even reported as saying that this is our best chance to beat Pakistan.

Photo: AFP

However, the recent series win against India is what’s most important. Not because this was a way of redemption after the quarter-final episode, but also because India was playing at full-strength. A new player, Mustafizur Rehman, who also happens to idolise Mohammad Amir as a bowler, troubled the mighty Indian batting order and Kohli failed yet again during the entire tour. This win against India is a major plus point for Bangladesh.

Photo: AFP

Some moments that highlighted the intensity and drama of the matches were MS Dhoni shoving Rahman during the first ODI, a send-off from Mashrafe to Kohli, showing him the way to the pavilion, the beating of an Indian fan, an argument between Shakib and the umpires, and the Bangladeshi crowd singing “Mauka Mauka” . Not surprisingly, that video went viral.

Bangladesh versus India might just become the next big Asian rivalry in cricket.

Beating Pakistan in 1999, Australia in 2005, knocking out India from the 2007 World Cup, knocking out West Indies from the 2007 World Cup T20 and then beating England in 2011 and 2015, in addition to some wins in a bilateral series, especially those against New Zealand, were some of the special moments during which Bangladesh ruined the chances for some big teams and established themselves as a strong team.

Critics will argue that Bangladesh is in dire need to win Test matches and they need to win a series away from home in order to be recognised as a real force.However, many will agree that they either break the hearts of their own fans or hearts of others’ fans every time they play.

Bangladesh is slowly emerging as a force to reckon with.

from The Express Tribune Blog

My husband is gay – A difficult truth

Case 1:

On her wedding night, *Hira found out that her new husband had a male partner. Her world came to a standstill. He told her not to expect much from him because he had no inclination towards her as a wife. Hira came back to her parent’s house the same night and when she confronted her in-laws, they sheepishly replied that they thought he would be ‘fine’ once he got married to a girl.

Case 2:

*Shumaila’s husband lived in the UK and, despite having been married to her for eight months, didn’t sponsor her visa so she could join him in London to start a home and a family. Shumaila’s father somehow managed to get her the UK visa and put her on a plane to London. Upon her arrival in the UK, Shumaila was devastated by her husband’s rude and cruel behaviour; he seemed to despise her for reasons she didn’t even know. Ultimately, she discovered that he was gay and was living with his male partner who had to move out because of Shumaila’s arrival. Her in-laws never believed Shumaila’s narrative and blamed her for not making an effort to win her husband’s love. Their marriage ended in a sad divorce.

Case 3:

*Ifrah and *Sohail had been married for six years and had an adorable four-year-old son. Many a times, however, Ifrah saw her husband exchanging intimate texts and emoticons on his cell phone with his friends. He always told her not to worry about it because they were just his friends and men just communicate like this. After a few years though, her husband’s behaviour, interests and relationship with other men changed. Soon after she realised what was happening, he adopted a ‘take it or leave it’ attitude with her. Her happy little world, the family she built over years, all fell apart. She thought of giving her husband a divorce, but her parents refused to support her decision, fearing disgrace and finding it hard to get good proposals for her unmarried sisters in the presence of a divorced daughter at home. Their advice to Ifrah was to somehow ‘manage and get along’ with the same life.

My husband is gay’ – are not easy words to come to terms with. The painful discovery can, often times, shatter the dreams of a woman who married someone in search for love, family, security, stability and a partner. Such cases being taboo are not discussed very openly in Pakistan but they do exist, and are rising every day. Wives are silenced and along with their voices, their desires and needs are also muzzled. Instead of a ‘happily ever after’, something every girl dreams of when getting married, they forever left to live with questions like ‘did I make this happen?’ ‘what did I do to deserve this?’ or ‘why am I being punished?’.

The existence of homosexual men and women in our society is a reality; whether this happens inside closets or out of them, they exist and are a part of our society. A person’s sexuality is their own business – so I am not here to judge. The issue that is of concern to me today is the social crime that exists when the sexual orientation of an individual is not revealed and in turn ends up destroying the innocent lives of people who tie the knot in hopes of pursuing a straight marital relationship.

Unfortunately though, this social crime does not just end with a homosexual man marrying a straight woman. Having spoken to homosexual people, it is yet another story of helplessness and grief. Most of them say that they are forced and pressurised by their families to get married. They don’t have the courage to tell their parents straight up for fear of ‘disgracing the family’. The result is – they live isolated lives.

Many people who have tried to open up to their friends and family members have come across things like “It is all in your head” or “it is a psychological problem and can be treated, don’t worry”. Many people are taken to various doctors and hakims to be ‘treated’, some are beaten for even thinking along those lines and others are emotionally blackmailed by their parents.  But like Sohail, described in case 3, despite having been through ‘treatment’ and being married to a woman, his sexual orientation remained the same.

In situations like this, it is the parents who need to come to terms with their child’s sexuality. They must not force their children to get married to people of the opposite sex to ‘save face’, they must not put their children on guilt trips or accuse them of ‘dishonouring’ them in society just because they refused a proposal.

When parents knowingly force their children to get married to members of the opposite sex, they are not only playing with the lives of their own children but with those of other people too. They may think it is worth a shot to get their children married and force them to have children, but what if the child’s sexual orientation remains the same despite having children? Is Sohail not our case in point? Why treat the girl he married like a guinea pig? I do not see why it is so hard to understand that she is not a lab test for your son’s sexuality!

Remaining in a state of denial will not help anyone. Talk to your children; find out how you can help. You are parents for crying out loud – don’t judge your own child!

*The names have been changed to protect identities. 

from The Express Tribune Blog