There are countless female icons that have coloured our history and left a lasting impression on us with their talent, charisma and presence. Every week, Ammaar – known on Instagram as ammaavocado – will be sharing his letter of love and admiration to some of these inspiring women. This week it’s to the fierce and brave, Qandeel Baloch.
I am in a place where there is life beneath me. And by that I do not mean being in a graveyard; where lovers have wished their loved ones asleep and not dead. What I mean is that when I sit at the edge of the mountain, I can see millions of flickering lights scattered all over the earth beneath, and I can imagine each light representing each home that may or may not be broken, each lover that may or may not be loved, & a girl who may or may not be free.
Qandeel, we are like each other; reckless and unburdened by guilt. We have fallen in love not knowing how far the bottom is, and we have walked out wounded and in gratitude.
You and I, Qandeel, are connected in yearning. You yearned for love and acceptance, and so do I. You wished yourself greatness even when you were born with nothing to your name but a name that you never wanted.
You were 8 years old when you were first called Qandeel, by your boyfriend. I watch you say this on the show Aik Din Geo Ke Saath And I imagine you, a small girl with a restless and unbroken heart. Hoping nothing more than love, and comfort.
You were 17 when you were married to Ashiq, who taught you what it meant to be alone even with someone who is meant to be yours. I have felt that as well, I have felt abandoned and in love both in the same moment.
And at 26, you were murdered by your brother in the name of honour. But I will talk about that at the end, as I gather the strength to picture that moment.
Like many things, Qandeel. Betrayal too has a silver lining. And it may sound cliche and may seem like I’m more a therapist than a writer, but being betrayed means loving someone so much, that on many nights no one could doubt your love, and on many nights your heart slept with a full stomach of love.
But for now, let me tell you about how I imagined us meeting. Like the millions that watched your videos, I too imagined myself meeting you. In a setting that had nothing to do with lust, but more about struggle, about romance and about everything beautiful that had ever kissed our cheek. I imagined us meeting at the backstage of your own concert, as the crowd screams your name while you glide off stage after your performance. We talk about how much you love to sing, about how Pakistan Idol was a hoax, and how they looked for obedience and not talent.
I define talent with struggle, Qandeel. And in that way, there was no one more talented than you. And so when you cried after your audition, and when people laughed at you, I didn’t. I could see you broken. There’s a unique kind of betrayal when you find nothing at the end of all the pain you’ve endured to get there.
Now let’s talk about July 16th, 2016.
I’ve heard that the biggest betrayal of life is death. For you, it was someone you loved dearly. Your brother. Qandeel, I’ve learnt that family is not those you share blood with, instead, it is those you would shed blood for.
When I saw your name and Qatal in the same sentence, I heard my phuppa saying, “yahi hona chahiye tha.” And I want to be honest, Qandeel. But I didn’t say anything back then, and I am sorry. At that moment, most parts of me knew that I was broken, most parts of me knew that I would never see someone doing whatever they wanted and hoped that I could do the same.
I am sorry Qandeel. I am sorry for how those who watched your grace also called you a disgrace. I am sorry for all the ways you were undone by those you loved.
After your death, Saba Qamar starred as you in a show called Baghi. I saw the entire show except for the season finale. Last night I saw the episode of the murder. I saw you through Saba; I saw how the story of the girl that broke through the sky, paving the path for all of us to heaven was strangled to death. I saw how the mourns of a crying woman are mistaken for madness.