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“Neither Head Nor Heart, It’s Stomach”, Tanzila Khan.

In the world that we live in, it is highly unlikely to run into someone with an intellectual acuity that extends beyond their own existence.

Questing the truth 15 conventional years of education couldn’t teach, Oddity managed to track down her first mentor, Tanzila Khan, the woman with wings. Apart from her project “I wish Knowledge” in affiliation with the British Council and the Ramp movement, Tanzila has worked with Y-peer in the capacity of a trainer and resource person for youth. Creative Alley is the production company owned by her that creates awareness about taboos through theatre.

creative alley

Oddity pulled out the list of questions she could not find answers to, jotted down arbitrarily, like a mathematics major on his first day at School.

“What makes you who you are?”  fascinated by Tanzila’s personality Oddity asked.

“Gratitude”, Tanzila grinned, “Happiness, confidence and positivity are what make Tanzila who she is today.”

Come to think of it, gratitude certainly is the magic potion. A sip of it alters your perception of the situation. You eventually begin to see things through a positive filter and that solves half of the problems. Because what you imagine, you create.

“Exploring their potential happens to be one of the most difficult conundrums for the youth today. How did you find your calling?”, asked Oddity.

Pain has a huge role to play in molding my journey of self-discovery. Only when I acknowledged my pain and allowed myself to fully feel it was I ready to let go of it. It made me realize there was something that needed to be done about it. I was awakened by it to become the person that I am today. So, don’t be afraid when pain is the input because once you master the art of managing it, there is nothing you can’t do.

As for me, I am just another ordinary girl who’s immensely grateful to God and wants to love His creation unconditionally. That to me is my calling.

Intrigued by Tanzila’s insight and her approach towards pain Oddity bombards her with another question right away, “What is the ingredient to success? Something that you can always count on?”

An unshakable faith and buoyancy“, Tanzila replied, “Although, sometimes this buoyancy backfires. See, most people, due to lack of firsthand experience with disability, begin to associate it with immobility and stagnancy. Such people when actually encounter someone who’s energetic and vibrant in spite of the disability, often tend to feel intimidated. They overlook the learning opportunity and instead feel frightened of your energy. But a few people who have the courage to look at society from several perspectives are the ones with big hearts. They ask you what happened to you instead of pitying you or feeling intimidated by you. I am proud to say that they are my friends today.”

She continued,

Never aim for the prize. It should be your last resort. Start small and keep going. Aim for a very good journey. Forget about the destination.”

Neither Head Nor Heart, It's Stomach" Tanzila Khan

The opposite gender formula:

Tanzila’s opposite gender formula is something we wish somebody had told us in our late teens when our hormones were all over the place and we made huge fools of ourselves in front of everybody.

“Attachment with the opposite gender is what I consider a problem. When I was younger I used to get a lot of attention from the opposite gender and since I had a very difficult relationship with my mother owing to the fact that we were two different women belonging to different age brackets, with different needs. There was a conflict between our language of love. Hers was not physical and mine was too physical. So very quickly, I fell into the trap of feeling unloved and unwanted. So much so that half of the time during my childhood, I have not spoken to my mom and given that I had no other sister I was automatically driven to guys. I used to explore them and ask what their psychology was like and what their aims were in life, which for me was a great learning opportunity since that I believe has helped me to interact with the opposite gender later in life. But at that point in time, I was misunderstood as a person. See, you are perceived as a problem child if you are too needy and then people start to treat you like one. The key is to keep looking for your purpose and once you find it, focus on it and forget about everything else.”

On meltdowns and how to avoid them:

“Physiology; I focus on the physiology. When I feel sad I know these are chemicals. Something is up with my head I am not surrounded by assholes. I own it like a grown up.
If I start to cry randomly sitting in a totally random place, the first thing I’d do is check for my dates.
Second, you are what you eat. If you are not eating healthy, you won’t be it. Third, your emotional structure; what emotional structure you go to bed with has a huge role to play in what you feel like the next morning. It always makes sense at the end of the day.

And if all else fails,

“Eat a banana! Yes! Feeling down? Prepping for a fight?

Eat a banana.

See, I use all the science there is to be used but if something still manages to get on my nerves, I shatter all the glass doors because then there is something genuinely wrong and it demands a reaction. The point is, don’t be a bull in the Chinatown. Fix yourself and half your life will be sorted. For sorting the rest of it, eat a banana!”

On mental health:

Let me say it, “We can’t RAISE awareness about mental health. We have to create it and be tricky about how we do it. Devise a plan that this nation gets through different tactics.”

On rape and abortion:

“We need to know that when a girl is raped, her story has just started. She is a completely new person now. She has to relive the trauma for the rest of her life. God forbid if she conceives a child, there is no concept of abortion in our culture. She has to face consequences no matter what. This cannot change until we become pro-choice and understand that when God has given a person free will who am I or you to take a decision for them or for what is growing inside them. I advocate safe abortion.”

I have been a reproductive rights advocate because controlling womb to me is patriarchy. Putting restrictions on women and their womb indicates an Orthodox mentality. We need to CREATE awareness about reproductive rights. YOUR child belongs to YOU and the choice lies with women.”

Tanzila has been a part of Women deliver since 2016, promoting gender equality, health, and rights of girls and women. She is also the founder of Girly things, an app that delivers urgent kits and sanitary products to you within 40 mins.

girly things

On SEX-ED:

One, it cannot come from parents. We need to have a system of peer education. Sex Ed should not come from pornography or television, it should come from communication. I, for one, think I’d be more comfortable telling my friend about a genital infection than my mother despite the closeness and trust I share with her.

Two, Normalize it. Joke about it. Make casual conversations regarding it, because it is important. Questions and discussions are what help the communicative channels to evolve. The old school strategy of abhorring sex won’t work in this day.”

On Marriage:

“The more qualified you are in terms of profession, the fewer chances you have of finding a good partner. Having said that, I have let people woo me and even approached the ones that I wanted to. It is just that I have not really met anyone yet who would inspire me to the point that I would want to partner up with him on the basis of life. To me, it is significant that the person appreciates what I bring to the table apart from round chapatis and sons. There is a lot we humans bring in terms of value and to marry someone you need someone with an extraordinary mind who needs much more from life.

About marriage, I am open to the entire arrangement but I am not desperate for it.

Because sometimes when I am sitting alone in a room, even though it is hard to sleep in my own arms but at least there is no one to abuse me or terrorize me or tell me to switch of the lights. So there is always a good side to it and I am happy both ways.”

To young women aspiring to be entrepreneurs:

You are going to have to have a hard time. Find all the ways you can to commit suicide that might come in handy. You must try at least one if you want to give a good ted talk. 
Life is not great. Sometimes we have to cry ourselves to sleep and the other times we have to go on a 16-hour flight suppressing our bladder long enough for it to finally leak. It is very simple,

you are never going to receive an award for things you feel you should be applauded for.

As a matter of fact, you can barely tell anyone about your true struggles. So let me tell you this, it is going to be a hell and you are going to make a heaven out of it. And only you can do it.”

On what is wrong with the world:

“There is nothing wrong in the world. It is in a complete balance in terms of good and evil. You need to decide how you want to contribute to the balance.”

Finally, Oddity asked Tanzila about her take on the head or heart dilemma.

Stomach! It decides how hungry I am, and that is how I operate.”, Tanzila Khan.

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