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A year later, Qandeel Baloch is remembered by the women who knew her best (Part 2)

Qandeel's mother and sister look back at her life before her untimely demise
Updated Jul 15, 2017 08:04pm

Social media sensation Qandeel Baloch was murdered by her brother in Multan a year ago.

This weekend marks her first death anniversary and filmmaker Saad Khan is trying to remember her for the person she was, with stories about Qandeel's life from the people who were closest to her.

Read the first part of the series here.

These stories, that have been uploaded on a Facebook page called Qandeel Ki Kahani, are excerpts from interviews conducted by Saad and documentary filmmaker Tazeen Bari with Qandeel's sister and mother and aim to highlight Qandeel's working-class life.

The page reads: “Qandeel Baloch successfully climbed the socio-economic ladder in a country where the class you're born into dictates who you are, what opportunities you'll get, and what you can do. She defied all that and became Pakistan's social media superstar. Rest in power, Qandeel (1990 - 2016)”

"These first-hand oral stories are immensely important. They provide correctives to the caricatured version of Qandeel we were so comfortable consuming without giving her any nuance and human agency," added Khan.

"Oral history gives voice to the narratives not privileged to be archived into the history books or reported by the media. They will always be questioned by those in power, but they don’t need any proof. For proofs are for the privileged, the unconsoled poor can just tell you what happened."

Qandeel Ki Kahani (Part IV): The Dance Battle

Qandeel's sister: "When they took her out of school she was still very young...

She loved dancing. She liked singing. She’d tell us her voice is really good, that she’d become a singer. She’d be watching TV and she’d say, ‘I’ll make something out of myself. I’ll do something. I’ll act, I’ll sing. I’ll do everything. You'll see.’ We [brothers and sisters] would laugh and say, ‘Azeem Baray’s daughter will do work in acting?’ She’d say ‘Yes, I’ll do it and show you all.’

[Many years ago] at my brother’s wedding in Multan, there were girls from the city. When it was time for the dance [battle]… my nephew told them, ‘My aunt [Fauzia] might be a villager, but she’ll win against you city girls.’ So they were surprised and asked him if he thought a village girl could compete with the city girls. He said she would, so they made a bet.

Qandeel in her 2012 modeling portfolio. Source: Anwar Bibi
Qandeel in her 2012 modeling portfolio. Source: Anwar Bibi

They said ‘All right, will she dance to whatever song we play?’ He said,‘ Yes.’ And on this side, he asked Fauzia, ‘Aunt, if I get them to play a song will you dance?’ Fauzia said, ‘Don’t ask me, just play whatever you feel like. I can dance to any music. But there’s one condition. If I have to dance to whatever song they play, then they must also dance to whatever song I choose...’

They said ‘All right.’ They must have been thinking how could this village girl even compete with them.

They played an Indian song. When they played the song, she did it. She didn’t stop. The other girl stopped, she got tired. Everyone was there... people from the city, all of us... she told everyone that they would get to decide who danced better. And everyone agreed that Fauzia’s dance was much better. It was much better and she didn't stop.

Then she [Fauzia] told the city girls, ‘You’ve played a song from India [for me], but I’ll play a Pakistani one [for you].’ They said, ‘All right, put it on.’ She played a song by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and said ‘All right, come to the playing field now!’

The girls were appalled. They said, ‘What kind of a song is this to dance on?’ She said, ‘Why not? I can show you how. Just try.’ They said ‘No, we don’t know how to dance to this classical song.’

She said that was the deal, ‘You picked a song of their choice [for me]. And now I pick one of my choice [for you].’ So one of the girls said, ‘Do you know how to do a classic dance?’ She [Fauzia] said, ‘I’ll do it.’ Then she danced on Nusrat Fateh’s song – first she danced to the Indian song, then on this one.

All the women from the city were baffled at how Fauzia kept going... she’d already done one whole song, and Nusrat’s song is so much longer. She did all of it. Then everyone clapped for her. They said they didn’t know she [Fauzia] was so clever. That she knew how to dance so well and could beat them.

Our nephew knew, he knew from the beginning she could beat them. He was shouting, 'Fauzia’s won! She defeated the city girls!'"

Qandeel Ki Kahani (Part V): My Last Meeting (1 of 2)

Visit to the darbar:

Qandeel's sister: "Two years ago – not this Ramazan, but the one before – Qandeel asked me to come see her. So I went for a week. Since then I haven’t heard her voice, I haven’t seen her.

She had changed. Before, she was like us. She lived like us. We felt she had grown more beautiful, we liked how she looked.

In the evening she’d call the rickshaw wala and take my son and my niece to the park. She’d tell me to come along but I’d say, ‘No. I feel scared, I won’t go outside in the evening.’ She said, ‘ I’m with you. Qandeel Baloch is with you. Nothing will happen. You don’t need to worry.’

I had asked her to show me the darbars around Multan, the big darbar. She wanted to know where I had heard of the darbar (shrine). I told her I saw it on TV. On some drama. ‘I saw it and liked it, which is why I asked you. It was my desire that you’d bring me along with you.’ She said, ‘I will take you at night.’ So one day she called a car for us, and took me in the evening.

Rest in power, Qandeel (1990 - 2016)
Rest in power, Qandeel (1990 - 2016)

We went [to the darbar]. For a while she kept standing there. I also paid my respects there, said my prayers. Stood for a while, then I sat down. But she kept standing for a long while at the darbar. She picked up the Yaseen [a section in the Quran] and read it. Kept praying. God knows what she was praying to Him for. She stood there for quite a while. I had been standing too, but then I went and sat down on a side.

We all lit a candle. My mother and I lit our candles easily, but hers wasn’t lighting. She said, ‘You’ve both managed to light your candles. Why isn’t mine lighting? My candle keeps lighting up and going off, lighting up and going off. Don’t know what’s up. My life’s candle is also the same, it lights, it goes off.’

She kept standing [there] for a long time."

Qandeel Ki Kahani (Part V): My Last Meeting (2 of 2)

Visit to the bazaar:

Qandeel's sister: When she first told me she’s doing this kind of work [acting], I didn’t believe it. I said it’s all bullshit. ‘How could you be an actor? Who’d take you? You don’t even have an education.’ She said, ‘Oh jatti, when people ask me how much I’ve studied, I tell them I’ve studied till the fourteenth grade...’

[In our last meeting] We went to the bazaar too – she shopped for herself, for me, for my son. Our mother was with us, she shopped for her too. She’d bought identical suits for all of us...

The shopkeeper was insisting that the suit was worth 1200. I said, ‘No, it isn’t.’ She told me to let it be, it’s okay. ‘Now I’ve got it. Let him be, I’ve already paid him.’ But I was fighting with the shopkeeper – I said, ‘No [to the shopkeeper], why did you take so much money?’ She kept saying, ‘Let it be, it doesn’t matter, it’s not a big deal, I’ve paid, why don’t you pick a suit for your son?’

I said all right. She bought hers, she bought one for my son. My son’s suit was for Rs. 1200. Then she said, ‘I’ll also buy my shoes with them [clothes] – khussas.’ So when we went to the shop I warned her, ‘These khussas are worth only Rs. 500, don’t you pay more.’ She started laughing. She wanted to know how they could only be for Rs. 500. I told her ‘I know, I buy them.’ The shopkeeper said, ‘Yes sister, they are for Rs. 500.’ She said ‘Wah jatti, how did you become so clever?’ She bought a pair for herself, and for me.

Before we know it, Qandeel was gone, snuffed out as she had just begun to grasp what she wanted to represent.
Before we know it, Qandeel was gone, snuffed out as she had just begun to grasp what she wanted to represent.

I told her, ‘You have so much money, yet you don’t have a single gold ring, nor do you wear any earrings, you should buy some.’ She asked me if I’d go with her and help her choose. I said of course. So we went to the jeweller from there. But she wanted to buy small items, nothing big. She picked a tiny pair of earrings.

She was wearing those when she died. The same ones we had bought her. She was wearing them. She had said she would never take them off. I don’t know who removed them from her ears, they brought them to our mother. She showed me. The same ones we bought her. They were still in her ears. We took them off ourselves.