If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my time on the internet it's that behind every handsome "Harvey Specter" display picture is an insecure bitter balding 40+ old man.
Even after keeping it in the pipeline for four months Tribune just wouldn't publish this, so without wasting anymore time trying to get it publish at another forum where it would've met the same fate, I decided to put this piece up on my blog!
P.s. in this blog I am sharing only a few messages out of a whole cart load of bullshit.
When I decided to write about this, I was told that they would never publish this piece. I was told that it was a routine thing to face the harassment and I should be content with surviving some actual damage. Maybe our definition of damage differed. Maybe they didn’t know me. They surely didn’t know that I was a firm believer of that famous quote, "To punish the oppressors of humanity is clemency; to forgive them is barbarity." I won’t quit my professional career, neither will I accept the archaic terms and conditions of our patriarchal society like most weak, vulnerable and impressionable women in our society do.
With high spirits, I decided to hold up a mirror for our society’s men so that they can take a good look at themselves. Surprise surprise all of the men that I’ve been harassed by are educated, hold multiple degrees and are fairly socially liberal folks. I'm sure by now they are all probably reading this- with their heartbeats skipping while scrolling up and down just to see if I may have mentioned their name or posted their lewd messages or their sleazy voice clips or possibly filed a report against any one of them.
"Main ek nauzaida chirya hun lekin,
Purana baaz mujhse dar raha hai."
There's nothing more pleasing than seeing fear in the eyes of a bully.
Worry not, ya’ll “Ghairatmand” boys for I have done no such harm. I believe I am far too young to full on break the chains of the patriarchy at the moment – I believe I still have some more maturing to do before I can enumerate the brave and valiant Parveen Shakir. But believe me, the time will come – enough is enough.
I couldn't exactly fathom where to start from and how should I raise my voice against harassment. After all the numerous articles, plays and dramas have been made about this pressing issue that internally eats away through our society like a plague – eventually, it all ends up falling on deaf ears. A large segment of our society may ask what’s wrong with some harmless flirting, praising and staring I mean hey you’re just appreciating Gods creation right? Oppressing females and having them assume submissive roles are what our society does best.
It all started in the recent past when I commenced my career as a reporter at a leading right-wing English daily newspaper. I was hired as a freelancer and was appreciated for my hard work and the effort I was putting into my job. I was satisfied with the work environment which was unlike the horror stories I had heard so much about concerning the media environment. Despite being the lone female employee in a totally male dominated enterprise – I was always showered with praise and messages of support from my colleagues (who all happened to be men) not once did I feel uncomfortable in this supposedly intimidating environment.
Albeit it didn’t take long for things to take a shady u-turn at the office. I started getting summoned to my boss’s office way too often and started getting inquired about stuff that most people would normally pay no heed to. Just to make me feel that I was his only trustworthy colleague and trying to bring me to a comfort zone where I would lower my guards, I was asked to brief him about the whereabouts of all the employees at the office when they come and go and most importantly "What everybody at the office thinks about him."
I assured him that they were way too busy to even think about him. I always thought to myself why does he think the whole world revolves around him and is conspiring against him? I guess he was just an insecure man. But as the days started to progress it dawned on me that he wasn't really interested in the ins and outs of everyone in the office - He was just trying to gain my trust and loyalty by snitching on everyone at the office.
I remember when the first time I had to pass through his secretary cum guard outside his office to announce that i wanted to see him and after knocking the door when i entered his office, the first thing to hear that shook me was a very cheesy compliment about my stunning looks in an equally cheesy tone which continued with, "You don't need permission to enter my office you can come anytime you want to, consider it your own."
It was downright appalling for a boss to say such things to a newly hired amateur reporter but then knowing him from an interaction through social media i thought he was trying to play it cool.
When i told him that i did not want him to joke around and treat me as an acquaintance but as an employee he started lamenting about the fact that, "why everybody in Pakistan has to be so narrow-minded and why can't they take a simple compliment as it is", in his usual commonly referred as NRI (just landed from America) tone.
Taking that opportunity he added to my knowledge how such unprofessional people had no place in his office where they didn't know how to work in a friendly environment, he said "Just the other day some interns from IIUI came and sat across on that sofa instead of sitting near me on the table as if I’d eat them up and had those hijabs wrapped around their head, now can you imagine? How is it even possible for me to let such people work around me?"
When i tried to question his professionalism he said, "Oh cmon it is 21st century not 1600's where I’ll act like a grumpy boss, times have changed, and people need to work in co-operation."
He would even go tot he extent of initiating offers of escorting his young impressionable female staff members to the reporting site himself, in his personal car and more than often send invites for luncheons and dinners.
Only later did I understand the meaning of his 'Co-operation' but truth to be told, back then I got really embarrassed and thought of myself as a backward savage or naive little girl who didn't have the manners to receive compliments or was unaware of how things work in 'Big Organizations". So, I quietly settled myself in that uncomfortable chair and got ready for my first briefing.
After a few questions about how I was liking the environment of the office and boasting about his position, the journalistic career, contacts, approach and stardom, I thought he would now start briefing me about my work but it was the other way around. From that day onward, these meetings would become a daily norm. When i showed my concerns "You can sit and talk to me comfortably and forget about what others might think at the office about your presence in here. You should only be concerned about what i am going to think or say because I am the boss here."
From now onward I am going to refer to my harasser as Saroor Ijaz. What’s shocking about my entire ordeal is that I was not alone. As time progressed, Mr. Saroor Ijaz started hiring more impressionable pretty ladies at the workplace. In order to maintain their unbreakable loyalty solely to him – he would on purpose pit all the ladies at the workplace against one another.
One of the intern X says, "It was my worst experience to work for that organisation. I might never even think of stepping into this world of media again. The things that i had to go through on daily basis, I’d never want myself or any other woman to experience ever again. The 'so called' resident editor tried his best to split us women at work and prey on us one by one, perhaps he took the divide and rule formula a bit too seriously."
She continued further saying, "He would act all innocent and try to gain our sympathies, which he did for some time but when his mask fell off as I came to know he was "The real Saroor Ijaz" when he accidentally called me from the same number that one Saroor Ijaz dropped in my twitter DM (after which I had him blocked). Not just that but he tried to intrude into my personal life and threatened me that if I say even a word against him to anyone he'll destroy my life."
Summing up her remarks she said, "He always lamented about how there were some women in media or his organisation who tried to blackmail him and he was so naive he got tricked and he was often worried when the threats would take a toll. Only then did I realise he was not naive and the women he used to tell me about were not tricky but in fact, he was the reason why they always ended up changing or leaving their careers, but unfortunately couldn't fathom enough courage to speak up."
I am no such woman, I am in no mood to forgive or to let it go, what I am is a firm believer of the sayings by a revolutionary man, "Forgiveness is Barbarity, Tolerance is Atrocity, and to Punish the oppressors of this world is Clemency."
I won’t quit my professional career, neither will I accept the archaic terms and conditions of our patriarchal society like most weak, vulnerable and impressionable women in our society do.
I grew up listening to the stories of courageous people who always stood up for their rights. No cause is big or small, no voice is weak or strong, it's the spirit that counts. So, speak even with a trembling voice but do not remain silent; that's how I brought up myself. I remember before entering into my professional career, my mother who is also a great writer and avid reader of Urdu prose and poetry was never exactly fond of Parveen Shakir, she thought she was an average poet but at the same time, she also admired her for her courage and determination.
Her crime – she had the gal to ridicule her boss in “Eik afsar-i-aalau ka mashvaraa”, (An advice from higher ranks) in which she defines an ideal officer as one who has no eyes, no ears and no tongue and advises herself to abandon poetry because a poet’s place in society is like that of an appendix, in the human body — absolutely useless but occasionally harmful.
Whenever she spoke about Parveen her eyes would light up - there was always a message a life in all those things that she would tell me. And learning from all these, I think this is now my Parveen Shakir moment to expose my ex-boss like she did.
Truth be told most women wouldn't even know when they are being harassed most of the time they’d just confuse it with friendly banter until or unless things obviously start to aggravate so much so that suppose you have a female who's never covered her head in her entire life - suddenly starts to properly cover herself whenever she gets summoned to the harassers workplace cabin.
At times Mr Ijaz would ask me to consult my other female colleagues at the office on which perfumes they used because their sweet smells would get his libido racing and fill him up with sensual desire – yep he really had no qualms or shame in saying all this.
Mr. Saroor Ijaz would also occasionally stalk me and the other ladies at the office on the internet unsurprisingly because of that he knew every little itsy bitsy detail about us. To act all superior and know it all – he’d use some of this information in front of us. mr. Ijaz also had a secret fake twitter account through which he would send direct lewd messages to many of the ladies at the office.
Saroor Ijaz had even recorded his lament in his oh so melodious voice and would often send it to his "prettiest of staff members" trying to charm them if not by his looks at least by his voice or to at least gain their sympathies.Here you go: https://soundcloud.com/user-267563334/aik-din-ft-saroor-ijaz-1
By now if you're wondering it's the notorious Saroor Ijaz from twitter? Yes, you've got that just right the one hiding behind the mask bashing the 'liberals'. You would think that Mr. Ijaz’s fake twitter account through which he harasses many of the females at the workplace would have been shut down by now after the enactment of the cybercrime law but the reality is far from it.
Fortunately for us ladies Mr. Saroor Ijaz made far too many blunders along the way by messaging a countless number of ladies at the office through the account – eventually the dots just connected really fast once us ladies got together. We had caught Mr. Ijaz at his most vulnerable.
After confronting him about his twitter escapades he started to threaten me with the fact that he was a well-connected man and that he’d have me destroyed and nobody would believe me if I told them about all of this – I may be pretty but I was not his typical impressionable and vulnerable female that would give into his empty threats. He had dug his own grave and was there to lay him down into it.
Many may question why I never took this matter up to the HR, well here's the thing because I was always informed that all my efforts would be futile, no one has time for such petty issues. One of the male colleagues showing his sympathies to me after I left the organisation said, "Please do not indulge so deep into such matters, it's almost routine in this industry, no one would even bother and you'd end up looking like a fool."
Some also informed me that Mr. Saroor Ijaz had professional harmonious relations with the CEO Mrs. Nizami and so, I may further land into trouble rather than finding a solution. I am not sure whether I made the right decision or not, by not approaching the high ups but I'm quite sure that writing this piece is definitely among the best decisions of my life.
So that’s the story of Mr. Saroor Ijaz - the Jack of all traits and master of none, who was just another insecure jealous psychopath to say the least.
If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from my time on the internet is that behind every handsome Harvey Specter display picture is an insecure bitter balding 40+ old man. They would offer pretty young ladies fame and money at the expense of their dignity. But People like Mr. Saroor Masood oh Sorry, Ijaz needs to understand one thing that by staying unmarried and preying on vulnerable woman won’t keep him young and charming.
The film "American psycho" as in a true depiction of such men who would go to any lengths and extents to become powerful and famous. Morals really didn’t matter to them.
They’d offer pretty young ladies fame and money at the expense of their dignity. Last I heard Mr Suroor Masood oh sorry, Ijaz now wants to come on a TV channel that is also associated with the same newspaper. Surprise surprise he wants a young pretty lady to co host with him to make him look younger and suave. But Mr. Ijaz needs to understand one thing that by staying unmarried and preying on vulnerable woman won’t keep him young and charming.
His husky voice and fake American accent can no longer lure in woman. If only he heard what they say about him behind his back. Despite all of the drama for the sake of the organization to which I was attached to for so long I tried to set the record straight with him.
I tried to make him understand that there was no pride attached to the fact that he was a plain womanizer cum pervert. I tried to make him look at himself as how the rest of the world saw him. I told him he needed to see a psychiatrist to get his head straight. Alas all my attempts at clearing up the organization’s name and trying to get Mr Ijaz the required help were futile and hence eventually fell on deaf ears.
Anyhow Mr Ijaz’s twitter account is now gone and so is his 15 year old reputation in the media industry – something which he can’t stop bragging about. Unfortunately that's the way our society is built and functions, but while this society never stops giving birth to such bullies and psycopaths it also doesn't forget to (although once in a while) create amongst us anohter Parveen Shakir to expose them.
Remember I once promised to you that I'll write something about you. That I'll make you famous and make you proud. You had so much belief in me you always asked me not to leave the organisation because it needed me, Every time I left you dragged me back by emotionally blackmailing me in the name of friendship and professionalism. Today I won't disappoint you, this is my profession and this is how I am helping the organisation that I loved so much. Fame Mubarak ho Saroor Sahib!
NEVER DISCUSS MY "SAROOR IJAZ" WITH ANYONE HE SAID, NOT EVEN MYSELF.
Had i known, one day I'd be writing this i would've mentioned "Saroor Ijaz" instead of him but those who knew him would know the irony is unmistakeable. and just to join the dots who always says pretty pistol and pretty tigresses!
Pretty is my pet word.