Mother Teresa once said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” – This piece of wisdom from one of the world’s most famous philanthropists is most relevant to this interview.
While visiting Pakistan, (she lives in New York) Yasmeen Sherazee pays a visit to the SHE office. She speaks about having an idyllic childhood, growing up in an affluent educated family of Iranian Muslims. The daughter of Ali Sherazee and Nusrat Ispahani, who left India during partition to live in Pakistan and what is now Bangladesh, her father was appointed Chief Evacuee Property Administrator by then Governor of East Pakistan, Admiral Ahsan. Her mother was a friend of Fatima Jinnah. After finishing high school, Sherazee went to London to study Interior Design. Eventually, she helped Mrs Risaluddin design Cromwell Hospital in London. She married a Pakistani London School of Economics graduate and a Citybanker. Fast forward many years, she was having “personal problems” and a friend suggested to her to take writing classes. She enrolled herself in poetry writing classes. “I perhaps wrote mostly sad ones.” She has written many poems, all reflecting her inner battles and survival stories.
On being encouraged to write by her then instructor and having an individual poem published, Yasmeen Sheerazee started penning down her life and thoughts on paper. After hawking her manuscript to many publishers, acclaimed author, Bapsi Sidhwa advised her to publish the book in Pakistan. She eventually met a Pakistani publisher, Huzaima Bukhari, wife of Dr. Ikramul Haq, who showed interest in her work, and agreed to publish it.
Cry of a Muslim Woman is a tremendous and compelling emotional journey. As Bapsi Sidhwa stated on the jacket cover, “It is a moving account of the suffering of one woman, and a shocking reminder that class and wealth do not inure a woman from the assaults of an abusive husband.”
Sherazee asks, “Islam is such a beautiful religion, but where are the followers?” “The Quran”, she says, gives women equality with men and endows them with fundamental basic human, civil and social political rights.”
She has interwoven her personal story with a larger narrative about the Muslim world and the status of women. Her book is drizzled lavishly with photographs of herself with the crème de la crème of Pakistani society. She hopes that her book would be picked up as a movie script.
Sherazee, who used to own Gytha, a clothing store in Dodds Ferry, now works as a Skin Care Manager for a cosmetic company’s beauty department at CBS NewYork. She wants her book of poetry Order to Win to be published, as well as she’s looking for some renown singers in Pakistan to sing her poems.
Her daughters “were my source of clarity through the haze,” Sherazee specially showed me the part she wrote as an introduction to her collection of poetry. “You must find your own source of clarity and believe that it exists within your world. All you have to do is reach.”
Yasmeen Sherazee is an inspiration to many women out there; to keep going, keep wanting and never giving up!