Peasant Autonomy
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Story 158

Pakistan – 2014

Happiness and sorrows

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(Photo: Norbakshi world)


“We can really count ourselves lucky that we met that kind driver. He rescued us.” Allah Rakhi is feeding the chickens. After a long and dangerous journey through high, barren mountains, she has ended up at the little, charming farm of a good friend of the driver, together with her daughter Zaïb. The sun is shining. The small farm lies in a green valley, the Indus flows far down below, and here and there you see the cheerful yellowness of flowering rapeseed fields. Zaïb sketches with charcoal a cow on the wall, with a high hump as you see them walking here, dark brown, compact, and muscular.

Allah Rakhi is not at ease. A few months ago her husband told her that Zaïb had to marry, because he had promised her to a chief of a nearby clan. Both clans are in conflict for years, and there have been many killings on both sides. The clan chiefs had decided together that a marriage had to take place in order to end the mutual revenge killings.
Allah Rakhi had objected, “Zaïb is still so young, only ten years old; she is a child who likes to play with dolls. And the man she has to marry is so old, almost fifty years old. Zaïb will be miserable.” But her husband didn't respond.

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(Photo: Carol Mitchell)


When Allah Rakhi was already sewing the wedding dress, on a sudden impulse she made the decision to flee with her daughter. They hid in the top of a big truck. When the driver discovered them, at first he was furious. But later on he was moved by Zaïb, and his sympathy grew for Allah Rakhi, who was clearly willing to do anything for the happiness of her daughter. He brought them to his best friend, who lives on a small faraway farm. There, they are safe.

“Zaïb has to go to school,” Allah Rakhi thinks, “but, is it possible? Won’t men of both clans continue searching for her, hunting her? Are we really safe here?”


The movie Dukhtar (daughter, 2014) by the Pakistani director Afia Nathaniel takes you through the rugged mountains of Pakistan and its small villages in a splendidly decorated truck. She lets you meet hospitable villagers, and murderous militia fighters.

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