Dreams, Giants, Concrete
“’How can you find time to do all these? You have to do the office work as well? Have you not?’
‘Yes. I do not stick to the laboratory all day long. I finish my work in two hours.’
‘In two hours! How do you manage? In our land the officers, – magistrates, for instance – work seven hours daily.’
‘I have seen some of them doing their work. Do you think they work all the seven hours?’
‘Certainly they do!’
‘ No, dear Sultana, they do not. They dawdle away their time in smoking. Some smoke two or three choroots during the office time. They talk much about their work, but do little. Suppose one choroot takes half an hour to burn off, and a man smokes twelve choroots daily; then you see, he wastes six hours every day in sheer smoking.’
We talked on various subjects, and I learned that they were not subject to any kind of epidemic disease, nor did they suffer from mosquito bites as we do. I was very much astonished to hear that in Ladyland no one died in youth except by rare accident.” – Sultana’s Dream by Rokeya Hussain
In Sultana’s Dream, the author walks us through a world, Ladyland, where gender roles have been switched, women have taken over to rule the world while men are banished behind the pardhah. Written in 1905 under colonial India the feminist essay describes a self-sustaining life run on solar power by women.
Like the imaginary Ladyland, our imaginary club, the Pak Khawateen Painting Club re-imagines alternate realities where women infiltrate gendered official spaces. Dressed in uniforms, medals and badges, they exert authority while mimicking its tropes and enter architectural spaces designed to generate hydropower to run the nation. The Club traversed the Upper Indus going from dam to dam, being received by officials on site and toured control rooms, adits, tunnels, Chinese camps and some sites with just markings of reservoir water levels and a platform to meet officials.