Book Review | Destruction Of The Heart And Mind

Aisha Sarwari opens a new reality of acceptance with her raw honesty on her relationships with Pakistan, Pakistanis and herself.

Book Review | Destruction Of The Heart And Mind

Anyone can complain about how unfair life has been. Everyone has faced trials and tribulations in their lives. Someone out there is probably concealing their suffering via laughter. But how many can own their reality for what it is? Not many. 

Meet Aisha. Her bio on social media site X says, ‘Feminist. Author. Trekker. Corporate geek.’ An activist and a feminist, Aisha is a recognisable face on the Pakistani map. 

Also meet Aisha. Married, mother of two lively daughters. Successful corporate cog. 

And did I introduce you to Aisha, survivor of systemic abuse? 

Disclaimer: It’s the same person. 

Reading her story, there were multiple points where I stopped. How does she know this? This was something I thought only I knew – because those parts were my story. Was I really this transparent? I’d always prided myself on hiding my truth quite successfully. 

Clearly, I’d hid all too successfully because now here were bits of my story being told by another woman – but at a higher degree of horror. 

Too many know this feeling of nervousness mixed with dreadful recognition of the same patterns (you too? Me too.) that washes over like wave that repeatedly drowns you. At that point there is no difference between the heart and the mind as they both switch off. 

Why do people never come out with their truth? Can others be saved if they tell their stories?  Can they even save themselves or do they risk destroying themselves?

Here our paths diverge. While majority of Pakistani women struggle to own their realities due to countless reasons from protecting children, to upholding family honour, to feeling shame, struggling to come to terms with their situations, financial chokeholds, societal pressures and many more, Aisha overcomes it all. And how. 

One doesn’t necessarily see this book as an act of bravery. It is a akin to a pressure cooker smashing through the proverbial kitchen, the steel shattering those oh-so-fragile notions of societal values and releasing pent up emotions that Must Never Be Shown. 

Hysterical, I hear you say. Desperate, some whisper. 

I can only marvel at those who haven’t experienced hysteria and desperation. Truly, you are God’s Ignorant Ones and ignorance is bliss. 

The rest, like Aisha, have only had to grapple with patriarchal norms which are akin to ropes being tied around your body and then being whipped mercilessly, only to have the salt from your own tears poured onto your wounds. 

No biggie. Some women end up dying. At least she survived. 

And there it is. Aisha survived. She survived to tell her story. And ended up destroying herself. 

What was the point of it all? That’s easy. She owned her reality. 

So many Pakistani women are told they need to take ownership – fix your husband, bring up the children, do the cooking, maintain a clean home. 


You must never own your story because it’s not yours to tell. It’s not to be told. Ever. 

And that’s exactly what Aisha does here. She owned her story and lived to tell the tale. Ignorance is bliss. But blissful lives don’t lead to telling the truth.