Quandeel Baloch, known for defying conservative Pakistan society by posting sexy photos and videos of herself, has been strangled to death by her by her brother in central Pakistan. Another honor killing.
So many of these "honor killings" occur when the victim is sleeping. Her father, her brother, sometimes both parents, strangle or stifle the young woman before she can wake up. So many victims trust their families never to harm them, even as they fear for their lives, or even as some part of them lulls them into acceptance of this tragic fate.
What is the brother feeling as he squeezes the life out of his sister? Can I assume that he feels nothing more than a sense that he is administering a just punishment? Does he love his sister? Did he ever love his sister? What was it like for him, growing up with this sister? Are there photographs of the two of them? Does he remember playing with her, laughing with her? Does he try to erase these memories, if he has them? Did he never see her? Was she never more than a shadowy presence in a headscarf, silent and serving meals, cleaning, until she ran away? Is he now--was he before--a man dead to feeling, because feeling is excruciating? Is he so poor, working so hard, that feeling has always been a rare luxury? Was it a thrill to him to kill his sister?
The Guardian of 17 July 2016 reports as follows:
Her brother, Waseem Azeem, was arrested on Sunday. Police presented Azeem before the media in Multan, where he confessed
to killing her. He said people had taunted him over the photos and that
he found the social embarrassment unbearable.
“Yes of course, I strangled her,” he said.
“She was on the ground floor while our parents were asleep on the
rooftop. It was around 10.45pm when I gave her a tablet ... and then
Azeem said he acted alone and was “not embarrassed at all over what I did.”
“I was determined either to kill myself or kill her,” he said as he was being led away.
So he drugged her, put his hands around her neck, and pressed very hard. Does he feel more like a man now? Is a lack of "embarrassment" his true feeling? Is he genuinely proud? Is he crying when no one is looking? Does his sister haunt him in his dreams? I think of Bill Sykes killing Nancy in Oliver Twist: her eyes follow him everywhere.
I want to know what these men feel. Or if they feel. I want them to feel something different from what they probably feel--I want them to feel regret, remorse, sorrow--what I am feeling as I watch CNN reports. What would this young woman have felt about her life twenty years hence, had she been allowed to live? Maybe she'd look back and laugh and think, "I was a jackass." Maybe she'd still be posting selfies, after a dose of Botox. Maybe she'd follow that young whore-old nun trajectory. Maybe she'd be a writer.