In a patriarchal society like Pakistan, Women are still seen as just the homemakers or the mommies but no one can think of them as the potential leaders or the CEOs of multinational companies. They are still subconsciously raised to be subservient, and we are not ready to see them leading.
But in this pool of dismay, some women have come out to break all the glass seals, ready to challenge the stereotyping and their journey give pangs of inspiration and validation to all the women out there- Sofia Kashif is one of them. Sofia Kashif, greatly known for her work as a photographer, blogger, and writer, has excelled in all the niches with her effective content and exceptional way of presenting her work. We are not very fortunate to see much of such inspirational women, having such diversity in their work.
In our society people like Sofia Kashif are present for the womenfolk. “Gohar honay tak” and “Mummy ki diary”- these two books have given her outstanding recognition in the mob. Completely different genres “Gohar honay tak” a research book, on the other side “Mummy ki diary’’ on parenting, the diversity in the subjects she chooses to write and the simplicity in her writings is one of the reasons that her work stands out. Her write-ups on social issues incite readers to think out of the box and are very much acclaimed by the masses.
She is not only a renowned writer but also a photographer that contributes a lot to her prestige. Her love for nature photography has led her pictures to be featured on international platforms like Guardian Magazine, UAE Reads, Abu Dhabi Magazine, and Gulf News.
She did her masters in English literature from Islamia University of Bahawalpur and B.ED from Allama Iqbal Open University. Later she offered her services as an English lecturer in the NICIAS college system and Army Public School. She left Pakistan in 2008 and moved to the United Arab Emirates, where she spent 13 years of her life. Currently, she is working as a blogger for DAWN, ARY, and HUM news and also looking forward to the publishing of her next book.
Besides, she is also a MOMMY of two extremely talented kids Diya and Ariz. Diya is twelve years of age, studying in seventh grade; nature and wildlife interest her the most. She is an extraordinary genius having extensive knowledge of wildlife and loves to paint. Her paintings on wildlife are spectacular. She is not only a painter but also an enthusiastic reader and wants to write a book on wildlife and strange myths.
Following are some excerpts from my recent candid conversation with Sofia Kashif and her daughter Diya Kashif
You are famous for your Photography, blogging, and write-ups, which one do you think is the most effective medium to communicate with the masses?
I have started my journey from Instagram, taking pictures, posting them and alongside I started writing. But in today’s digital world, the most effective medium is social media to present yourself, display your talents, introduce yourself to the whole world. But for the young lot, as they have full time for their ambition and they are not occupied by other responsibilities, they should give an important place to all the mediums to produce effective content and for the marketing of their product. When you are able to communicate in English, you are no longer limited to the subcontinent; you can reach out to the whole world using these platforms.
What inspires your photography and do you think photography influences your writing too?
When it comes to photography, everything inspires me; I can’t name one specific thing. I have spent a major part of my life in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E, which you know is a total desert, though you can enjoy all the modernity, luxurious lifestyle there but one thing that place lacks was nature, we used to go to resorts to enjoy fresh air and greenery, which is one of the essential reason of my interest in nature photography as I have missed it the most living there and it inspires me or you can say amazes me the most. And definitely, when you start seeing things through the camera lens it unfolds a new layer of everything for you. Photography not only influenced my writing but assisted me in a number of ways as all the pictures I use for my writings and Blogs are the ones I capture myself and have a major role in my popularity and recognition among the masses.
Which aspects of Nature photography do you love the most?
The beauty of nature, the shades of green excite me the most. For people, they are just bushes and shrubs but to me, every shade of green has a special feel, special value that I cannot explain in words.
What are the tips and techniques for nature photography?
I feel like it’s not the camera that works for you but it’s basically you, what you see. I do photography of the things that interest me the most that are “NATURE” and I have a special eye to see nature, I go to the same places multiple times and every time I discover a new layer, a new angle to capture the beauty of that place. It’s basically your passion, your love for the things you capture and your angle to see the things. In simple words, it’s not the lens of the camera, it’s your eye and the way you see things that can do wonders to your photography.
What type of writing intrigues you and what type of genre do you lean towards the most?
I am a very avid reader even from my teenage. Reader’s magazine at that time was a total treat for me but there is no specific genre, I read everything and every single thing intrigues me. But writings of Elif shafak, I can say fascinate me the most as her writings are basically the catharsis of feminism and even from her writings about the society of turkey, we- the readers of Pakistan can relate so much which I find very interesting. And when it comes to my own personal writings, you can see my work is very dynamic from “Gohar honay tak” to “Mummy ki diary” to my write-ups on social issues. I cannot confine myself in walls nor do I hesitate from taking risks and experimenting. I am not here to make records so it doesn’t bother me even if I lose my audience while trying new things, I think I am comfortable this way or you can say it’s my way of doing things.
Can you tell me about your book MOMMIES?
I shifted to UAE after my marriage where I did not have the assistance of any of my relatives at the time of parenting of Diya and Ariz, so you can say I was leading my life from the forefront and was trying to figure out things myself by reading books about parenting and through the internet. At that time, this idea of writing about parenting came to my mind and it was a total experiment. Little did I know at that time that this book will be my identity in the long run and at that time I realized how much mothers of Pakistan are in need of content like this.
You talk a lot about the integral factors of successful motherhood in “MUMMY KI DIARY”, can you summarize it for our readers?
There is no set definition of successful motherhood but invest in your child, invest in yourself. There is this very wrong concept that prevails in our society that our mothers quit their passion, their ambition, their talent’s got all rusted in the grind of daily life which is very wrong. In my perspective, you should pursue your ambition, make use of your talent not just for yourself but for your child because a mother should be a role model and the very first inspiration of her child. And another thing I want to mention here is that a mother should be very brave and strong who can take stand for her children even if she has to go against the society and unfortunately, I haven’t seen such strong women in our society in a significant number. Remember this: Only a strong mother can raise a strong child who can counter difficult situations in life and will pay back the society in the long run.
How old were you when you started painting?
I was two when I used to see my mom doing painting and that’s when I learned to use colors and paper to draw.
What are your hobbies other than painting?
I like reading, playing on my recorder and playing badminton.
How did you develop an interest in wildlife?
Since I was 2 when my mom read me so many stories about animals and the way she described them with so many colors developed my interest in wildlife.
What attracts you the most about wildlife?
The beautiful flowers, birds singing in the trees, animals in the forests- this is what captures my attention the most.
Which is your favorite animal?
My favorite animals’ are Zebras and wolf for wildlife and cats and birds for pets.
What is your inner animal?
Wolf because I like to be silent and in pairs or groups.
Would you like to say something about the recent Issue of Australian wildfire?
What’s done is done. I feel sad about the koalas and the people and the country.
What do you think we should do to conserve or protect wildlife?
We should stop cutting down their habitat. Some people take animals from the forests and they keep them as pets, those animals die, which is needed to be stopped.
Is there any message you want to convey through your paintings of wildlife? The only reason I like to draw wildlife paintings is that I want people to be nicer and kinder with animals.
What are your future goals and do you want to do something for the conservation of wildlife in the future?
I want to become a fighter pilot because I like to fly and it’s my dream to fly a plane and protect my country. And if not a fighter pilot then I would like to be a veterinarian and will save animals. I also want to write a book on wildlife and want to help nature but right now I can’t think of any way to help it as I am too young and a single person can’t do anything, he/she can only convince others but it needs a collective effort to get an effective outcome.
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Sabeeka Zafar is a Bioinformatician-to-be with a passion to be a significant part of the great revolution in the near future in the field of Bioinformatics specifically and that of Science generally. Sabeeka is a social activist, enjoys working with people for the betterment of the society and loves to read and to write.