Qurut-ul-Ain, or Annie as she is called began her life in the poor suburbs of Abbottabad. Her father was a truck driver working in Saudi Arabia with a family of 7 daughters and 2 sons, whom he kept in Abbottabad. He was a drunkard who would return home after every six months and spend his salary on alcohol. His return was the most terrifying time for his children where they would get beaten senseless everyday. After sometime he quit his job and moved back permanently. As his alcoholism increased everyday his ability to sustain this need decreased. He then forced his daughters into prostitution.
When Annie was fourteen, she sought her escape with a man who promised her a life out of poverty and prostitution. She eloped with him to Karachi. After a couple of months he kicked her out and she was living on the streets with no money and no hope of escape from her present condition. Some nights she would be picked up by police officers and other men, only to be gang raped and thrown back by morning.
At this point, someone picked her up and introduced her to a Madame who catered to the well-to-do. Annie was finally off the streets, and making 30,000 Pak Rupees a night on a good day, and on bad days it was 5,000 Pak Rupees. Not exactly the life of a Princess but it kept her off her streets and she was doing better for herself than the life her parents or those men had given to her. Still a teenager, Annie dreamt of love, of a home and stable life.
Her prayers were shortly answered when she met the son of a Kutiyana Memon Millionaire. Azeem Younus was a frequent visitor at the brothel she worked. It was there that he came one day drunk that they met. He was a student at IoBM Karachi. He fell in madly in love with her and soon swept Annie off her feet. It was better than anything she even hoped to dream of. He was her Genie, except the wishes weren’t limited to three.
In the real world, Azeem Younus had a spotless reputation. He was good looking, charming, kind and friendly. He was his father’s favourite son. He not only worked on his father’s existing business which included their marriage lawns project, but helped in the expansion of the family empire as well. He was the definition of a good son, good friend, good colleague and a good member of the Memon society.
In accordance to Memon tradition he could only marry within the community and though his family didn’t quite know what was going on, they knew there was a girl involved. He eventually quit his family business, and vowed to get a job and be independent so he could marry her. He managed to get one at Engro, and within 5 years he climbed up the career ladder faster than anyone had imagined. (http://pk.linkedin.com/in/azeemyounus) He rented a flat, and kept her there, while he stayed at his father’s mansion. The love slowly started turning sour when he realized he could have been making a lot more money had he been working with his father and enjoy the same lifestyle he did once while he ran his father’s business. Working for someone else, didn’t fit with his personality and he began to resent her for it. He would beat her every chance he got when he came to see her. The food wasn’t right, or she wasn’t smiling enough. Anything could trigger his rage. Neighbors would frequently call the police because of the screams coming from the flat, but charming and well-connected as he was, the police would end up going back without noticing a thing. His paternal uncle being at a very senior post in CPLC was his trump card whenever needed.
Then one day in a fit of rage, he grabbed a padlock and struck her on the head and hit with it repeatedly her till she fell. He got on top and asked her to stop acting and get up. She lay there telling him she couldn’t see, her eyes could just see darkness. He kept mocking her till he realized she had possibly gone blind. She was bleeding severely and in bad shape. He rushed her to the hospital and told the doctor she had slipped and hit her head on something while he was away. The doctor told him some nerve had been compressed and it was affecting her vision and she needed bed rest and a stress free environment. For the next 6 months while she was bed ridden, he treated her like a princess, feeding her, helping her in every way possible. To her it seemed the only way she would ever be loved is if she was hurt and injured. Love had now evolved from sympathy on seeing a gruesome picture. After she recovered the beating began again. They followed the same pattern, him losing his temper beating her senseless then like every man, would realize the horror of what he just did and profess his love for her vowing to never do it again.
They ended up moving several times because most of the neighbors would hear the “animal-like screams” and eventually everyone was talking about how “barbaric” the man was. One day one of the neighbors, a female doctor having heard months of this abuse and a mother to three daughters herself told Annie she was going to end it for her. She bought her a ticket to Islamabad, and gave her plenty of cash and asked her to escape and go to her family. Anything was better than this. They waited for him to leave in the morning, and then she drove her to the airport. While she waited in the boarding lounge, he kept calling. She had decided to leave. His calls wouldn’t stop so she texted him she was leaving him for good. He left work and went home to check. When he couldn’t find her anywhere, he ran bare feet to his car and headed for the airport. Security wouldn’t let him in so he kept waving through the glass. A group of air hostesses asked her if that “mad man” waving was trying to get her attention. She broke down and told them how horrible the daily beatings were. They explained to her if he was this madly in love with her, maybe she should give him one more chance. She agreed.
As he got in the car, he broke down and professed his undying love for her and told her he would not make it without her once she gave in. Once she gave it his face straightened as he asked her how she managed to get a ticket. She could feel things were going to take a bad turn again. She told him about the female doctor next door. She had barely finished when his elbow hit her teeth, he kept pounding her with his elbow till her front teeth broke. Then he grabbed her by the head and banged it against the side window. He paused only to tell her how she had disgraced him by seeking help, and now one more person knew. Then he stopped the car, and punched her till he was out of breath.
Annie’s momentary relief was suddenly turned into a nightmare again. By the time he was done with her, her nose was broken, split in two, 8 teeth missing or broken. He suddenly felt he had gone too far and rushed her to the hospital. He registered her under an alias, Alishbah at the Jammiat hospital, and claimed to be a friend. It took a lot of convincing since it was clearly a police case, but she had ended up at the hospital so often, one doctor who knew her story settled the issue. Once she was in the operation theater, the surgeon’s hand kept shaking looking at the unbearable consequences of the violence inflicted upon her. He decided to get her some morphine and sent her to Aga Khan instead. A few surgeries later, and dental implants, she started looking a bit normal.
The daily beatings continued once again till one day he got so incensed, grabbed her by the hair and threw her off the first floor of the building they lived in. She landed on her head and blacked out. He had gone too far, the public had summoned the police and all he could do was disappear. She was taken to the hospital by people on the scene.
This time he had gone too far, and she vowed to have him behind bars. A few days in the hospital, and she was on her way to file an attempt-to-murder against him. The police wouldn’t co operate, but people started helping once the story opened. He was finally behind bars, but still sending her threats of how her father would deal with the authorities involved to save his reputation and soon it would be her behind bars and not him. She stood her ground till one day she decided maybe his dark time in the prison would make him see the light and she took her complaint back. By now, his family knew there was a girl called Annie who was trying to trap their precious son. Their beloved son, who had a sparkling reputation among his friends, colleagues and community in was being framed by this Woman.
Soon after a fit of guilt, he married her secretly however keeping the nikkahnama with him, just in case she ever had the idea of going public and disgraced his name. After this she got pregnant. She had gotten pregnant several times before, but he would either beat her so badly, it would turn into a miscarriage or would force her to abort. For once, despite the beatings, the child survived and was born prematurely. Just before her labor pains began, she frantically called him. He didn’t take her calls. She asked her neighbor to call a cab because she was in pain. After the birth of a baby girl, Shehla, the beatings continued as usual.
Six months after Shela was born, Azeem kicked Annie and her baby out of her house and told her to go to Edhi. Over there, when she met Bilquees Edhi and informed her of how she was married to one of the Lakhpati Memom’s. Bilquees Edhi spread the word in Memon community of how Azeem Younus was married with a child. This collided with the family pressure for him to marry. Soon however he was found a suitable Memon heiress who was born and raised in Paris. Azeem after 6 months, decided to introduce his official wife to Annie and told her ‘You will be Annie’s slave, you will live with her from now on and do her choirs and serve her.’ When she indignantly refused, it was met with a severe beating. The next day, her father flew in from Paris and took his daughter away. She was 6 months pregnant at the time, and Azeem has a daughter from her aswel who lives in Paris.
Then some 5 years later, she got pregnant with his son, Subhan. During the pregnancy, the beatings were on time, just like every meal was for Azeem. There would be times where she would become numb in every way, even losing the will to kill herself. That’s when something would awaken in her and she would try going to the Police, knowing well they wouldn’t help her because she was a woman, and Azeem, a man of influence. One such time, she went to the Police Station and Azeem was summoned. He arrived, and placed 50,000 Rupees on the desk of the investigating officer and started by telling him with a smile how she was a prostitute and how they must know he hails from a well to do family, The Lakhpatis, and these kinds of women are always trying to blackmail his kind for money. He sat amongst the Policemen and told them how she probably had someone’s bastard in her womb and it was convenient now to put it on him. He barely knew her. That child was his very own, Subhan, who not only looks every bit like his father, but because of whom Azeems’ mother’s stance has softened towards Annie and she sends her the monthly groceries and supplies without telling anyone in the house. Subhan is the only grandson in Azeem’s family, giving him immense importance in a society where boys are cherished especially where an heir to the name is needed.
But it didn’t end there. Subhan was born 6 months premature at The National Medical Center in Defence. Azeem at that point refused to pay the bill because he would have to acknowledge Annie was his wife, and Subhan his son. It eventually led to the Hospital informing the CPLC and investigation began into why the child was abandoned. Azeem went underground, and told Annie to ask the authorities to hand over the child because she had no money The Media got involved and the Hospital administration asked Annie to either tell them the name of her husband and his whereabouts, and they would take him to court and hand over the child, or to acknowledge officially Subhan was her child, and she had no husband, thereby acknowledging adultery and the birth of a bastard. Under those circumstances, she would be allowed to take him home. Azeem asked her to take the latter option and get the child. And that was exactly what Annie did, she bore the humiliation for Azeem once more.
At this point, things went from bad to worse. Azeem was fired from Engro. After doing well in the beginning he faced his corporate downfall with a large number of mishaps on his behalf and nor his family name or contacts could save him This caused the beatings to increase. Annie supposedly had ruined his life. She had caused him to lose his share of the family business, made him lose his job at Engro and also wrecked his second marriage. With time on his hands, his hands were always on Annie venting his growing frustration with himself. He was on anti psychotic medicine, but sometimes the medicines didn’t work and the rage came out full-fledged.
The children are so used to seeing their mother being kicked, punched, her head being banged again the wall, they live in sheer terror. They barely smile. They don’t play with toys. The daughter, Shehla spends time with her dad trying to explain to him how ‘You should try to talk to Ammi, beating her isn’t right, she will listen if you just try to talk to her’ At her age, counseling her father to no avail is heart breaking.
At times, violence doesnt quite do it for Azeem. He turns to psychological terror. He tells Annie very confidently of how he is just waiting for Shehla to reach puberty so he can sleep with her, while Shehla and Subhan are present. Annie gets called to the school by Shehla’s teachers every now and then when she casually reveals how her Abu beats Ammi till she bleeds or how he wants to do bad things with her when she grows up. At times the 2-year-old, Subhan gets a few hard slaps. Why? Because Azeem tells him how his mother has ruined his life and he is his mother’s son. The little helpless adorable child still expectantly reaches for his father every chance he gets, only to be pushed away.
Azeem is currently working on opening a sea food restaurant right next to the Floating Ship Restaurant, but things aren’t going so well and Annie bears the brunt of this new frustration.
He currently keeps her in an apartment under lock and key with the kids. The current landlord and neighbors know Azeem Younus as Aly Khan, an alias to protect his reputation should it leak out he beats her in this new neighborhood as well. The new apartment Annie says is perfect, Sound proof, so that the terror that is unleashed on Annie and her two children is not inflicted upon the outside world.
Annie’s story is just like that of thousands of women and girls in Pakistan today. It is the injustice so deeply rooted in our system defined by class, caste and money. Had Annie been the daughter of a rich father, perhaps she would have been flown to Paris had Azeem ever laid a hand on her. It is voices like hers that get subdued in the noise of the world. Why? Because she was a prostitute? Because she is a woman? Because she does not have the support of a powerful family? Because all the institutes in this country which are meant to preserve and protect the people, only choose to protect those who have something to give in return? Annie’s life, just might be one. But it is a symbol for every oppressed life in this country. We must change these oppressed lives so that one day we can change this oppressive system.
Annies current address : Flat 1, Second Floor, House no. 3/4, Gizri Avenue, Gizri, Defence, Karachi.
Azeems current address : House no. 3/2, Khayaban-e-Mujahid, Phase 5, Defence.
Azeem Younus :