Extremism is everywhere and many of the areas in Pakistan are full of people whose brains are equipped with extreme thoughts regarding our social patterns, our culture, the norms, and values, the beliefs and even the perceptions. This stereotypical mindset is not just limited to villages or small areas but to cities as well. People are getting modern day by day but they are not even striving a little to work on changing their typical beliefs and mindsets. Especially, when it come to girls, society feel it ‘hard-to-swallow’ that girls are going higher or struggling to reach their goals. People still feel it ‘wrong’ when it comes to girls and things get right when one is a ‘boy’.
These stereotypical thoughts of our society become the reason that kills so many dreams, that ruins so many goals and that shatters the confidence and personality of so many ‘dream holders’ who once believed that “DREAMS CAN COME TRUE”. Going against these set and rigid patterns of society, one needs a nerve, a very big one, and Maria Wazir Toorpakai is one of those girls who met this challenge bravely to strive for the making her dreams come true.This daring girl till 16, spent her life as a ‘boy’ to reach her goals of playing squash at in international level. This clearly depicts how Maria was “bound” to carry the boyish look and had to hide her attributes of ‘being a girl’ while residing in Waziristan. This shows how typical and sick is the mentality of the residents of that place is, where Taliban’s reside in majority and those tribal areas has so many conservative mindsets that changing their viewpoints about “woman” is an impossible thing to do as they keep women derive from acquiring even the basic necessities and rights to live.
But when you have the support of your family, especially father, nothing remains that much difficult and this was exactly how Maria Wazir was fortunate. Her dad assured her to help him reach all the life goals she had.Watching the ways how society used to treat and privilege boys of her surroundings, she decided to carry a tomboy look. Started wearing the outfits of men and burnt all her own girly clothes, cut her hair short and people started calling her by the name Ghengis Khan as an alias. Observing how Maria sometimes got into fights with the ‘other’ boys, her father Shamsul Qayyum Wazir started sending Maria for the weight-lifting practices that turned out to be really beneficial for her.
On interviewing, told her father that:
“Giving her a false boy’s name allowed her to take part in whatever games she wanted. Then someone told me that if she carried on weightlifting, she would not grow taller, and she would become plump and heavy. So I encouraged the interest she had already discovered in playing squash.”
He added up with:
“In our area, girls are not even allowed to leave their family homes. They wear a veil all the time and are always accompanied by male family members. When people saw Maria Wazir and realized that she did not wear a veil and that she played squash wearing shorts, they were shocked. They said she had brought dishonor to our tribe and they criticized me heavily for it.”
When Maria joined the squash academy, people were unaware of the fact that she is a girl but later when all got to know about her identity, that was the moment when things turned worst. Her father was ambushed for helping her daughter choose the field of her interest and Maria Wazir too, was bullied and disrespected. Their tribe started threatening Maria Wazir and her family, and forcing them to stop Maria from playing as according to them, it was so “un-Islamic, unethical and against the traditions of the tribe”.
However security was provided to Maria Wazir by Pakistan Squash Federation but still, that was not enough while residing in the place full of Taliban around you. On insisting by her father, she applied in international squash clubs and different universities. Still her life is in danger because of the people of her tribe who couldn’t accept her efforts of reaching her goals but luckily after waiting for more than 2 years, she was called by Jonathan Power, the legend in Squash and due to the guidance of her mentor as well as the support of her family, Maria is now the top female squash player in Pakistan and is on 49th level internationally.