Social Issues presented in short story The Tallest Woman

Story begins with a social issue fear, the fear of so tall as told in these words in the short story “The Tallest Woman” by Maham Javaid

“Where she tied her pants – to below the ankle, and yet the pants were ending at her lower calves. Her heartbreak turned into a familiar fear when her mother said, “Oh Zainoo, I’ll bring the tape measure”. (Javaid, Maham (2019) p-1)

The height measurement not only carried out once, it is in routine and the moment in Zainab’s conscious was five feet and five inches, when she carelessly released the measuring tape which stroked on her finger and blood exuded. Then, once measurement five feet and nine and at last seven feet crossed. Average height of women in Pakistan almost five feet and the height of Zainab is much more than others that Zainab looks like a giantess between others.

            Maham Javaid used the word measuring ritual; word ritual means religious ceremony in which serious actions were performed and measuring action also presented like ritual actions; “Zainab against the wall, the pencil mark, the tape stretched out, five feet and nine inches.”  Here, measuring practice is emphasized and shows intense worries of Zainab’s mother about her daughter’s height.

            Marriage is important in almost all the societies in the world. Due to its importance, in almost all the countries and religions there are rules and regulations for marriage. In this short story Maham Javaid presented this issue through the character of Zainab and her mother’s worries. When Zainab was growing height her mother said, “What kind of man will agree to marry a woman that taller than himself?” and when she crossed the seven feet they (Zainab and her mother) know that “no sane man would ask for the hand of a giantess”. It is serious issue in Pakistan for poor and handicap girls and also for those who are too small or too tall that many girls remained unmarried due to these reasons. Physically and rationally too much height is not problem for the marriage but in our society it is thought bad relationship however, there are examples of low height man married with a woman that have much height and vice versa.

            Domestic exploitation is one another issue in Pakistan that presented in the short story by Maham Javaid. When Zainab is going taller and taller day by day her mother was worried about her height and she made a line of bricks on the charpoy at foot side that Zainab cannot stretch her body at night. The reason her mother was made; “If the girl couldn’t stretch, the girl wouldn’t grow.” But she was afraid of touching her foot with cold bricks that was also disturbed her sleep at nights. It is not only single problem there are many more experiments that was practiced on Zainab; one coworker of Zainab’s mother suggests that children will increase stature through exercise. For the said reason she was forbidden to exercise and running. Like this someone said, “Sugar encourages growth” and taking sugar was also banned. It is common practice in Pakistani societies that without any verification or without nutrition’s suggestions many restrictions were imposed on children.

            Another social Issue that Maham Javaid presented in her short story is Nicknaming and feelings of hate. Zainab in school by classmates nicknamed, “Zaraffa Zainab and Diyony Zainab”. Her mother said her, “Jin ki bachi” and Maham Javaid herself gives the name, “local Jalut” in the course of short story. One social media activist nicknames her, “Angry Diyony”. A good nickname may motivate someone but a bad nickname demotivates surely. The name Zaraffa Zainab and Diyony Zainab shows feelings of dislike and hate. Use of nickname Jin ki bachi by her mother and local Jalut by the writer is exaggeration for the purpose of showing character of Zainab as huge stature that word giantess looks small. The social media activist used the word angry Diyony to take interest of the social media users because word Diyony is unfamiliar and it creates interest but a Diyony when angry is more unfamiliar and fairy so, it is more interesting for the peoples but all these names are disgusting for her.

            Social isolation is also an issue in Pakistan and it is presented in this short story. Social isolation may be due to two reasons, one reason is that society does not accept someone as in the Zainab’s case and other reason is that someone him/herself do isolate from the society by choice. Second one is by choice so, it is not a problem but the first one is by force so, it is problematic as in the case of Zainab. In this short story Zainab was warned to move in the town, Town’s young peoples used these words, “if she continued showing off her vulgar body around town, it wouldn’t end well for her”. The town’s young peoples restricted their sisters and cousins (female) to meeting and talking with Zainab. One day they planned and attacked near the canal but she took the advantage of height and ran away, hardly, she had saved her life. She and her mother complaint to local political leader, police man and Mullah Shakir but no one had helped her. As the result for Zainab’s security her mother bound her to inside the house. She was bound to the house for many years. Maham Javaid presented this issue in the beginning of the story symbolically in these words, “the last house on the last lane within town limits”. Her choice of words last house, last lane and within town limits is symbolical. It symbolizes isolation from the town but not complete isolation that it remains in the limits of the town. Before this he used the sentence, “Zainab and her mother lived at the edge of town”. Actually they lived at the edge of this society; they have negligible contact with society of the town. For Zainab only Noor who is a seamstress is connection between Zainab and the society of the town. The town people think her another species not a human that mothers in town coax their children by saying, “Sleep child, sleep, or Diyoni Zainab will come and eat you.” It is common practice in our society that we coax our child on the names of mad peoples or special peoples.

            Social exploitation is big issue in our society in Pakistan that Maham Javaid presented comprehensively in her short story “The Tallest Woman”. It is common in our society that if one member of a family have quarrel with another person, the whole family opposed the other one, either other one is right or not. Zainab was warned by young peoples in these words: “if she continued showing off her vulgar body around the town, “it wouldn’t end well for her”. After few days of this warning they attacked Zainab near the canal but she saved herself successfully. She and her mother complaint to Mullah Shakir, local leader and a police man one by one and no one resolved their problem but they suggested to keep away from the town’s peoples as they have no right to live like other peoples in the town.

Envy and backbiting are social issues not only in our society but all over the world. Maham Javaid presented this issue successfully in her short story. A very interesting example is Mullahism and NGOs that she presented two groups came at a time but sit on opposite side whether they both came for the same purpose but when departing from Zainab house they past remarks against each other. Actually in our society the Mullah thinks that non-profit workers are working against the Islam and encouraging liberalism and sexism on other hand non-profit workers thinks that Mullah are the main reasons for sexual abuses, domestic exploitation and child labors. Town young people spread stories against Zainab to satisfy themselves in these words: “peasant farmers climbing the wall of the last house on the last lane of town, in the dead of the night.” They banned their sisters and near relatives (female) to meet Zainab. They told dirty jokes about Zainab in the course of story due to jealousy and envy.

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