Alternative Realities is a travelogue, a memoir, a satire and a feminist critique of Muslim women s lives, interwoven with the author s own ongoing struggles as a Muslim woman. Each chapter presents personal stories of women living in cities, small towns and villages in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh the three lands to which Nighat Gandhi belongs. In writing their stories, she attempts to break the silence enshrouding Muslim women s sexuality, and the ways in which they negotiate the restrictions placed on their freedoms within the framework of their culture. Women like Ghazala, who prefers the life of a second wife, living like a married single woman , to being bound within the ties of a conventional marriage; Nusrat and QT who believe theirs is a normal marriage, except that they are both women; Nisho, who refuses to accept that her trans-sexuality should deny her the right to love, and Firdaus, writer and feminist, who can walk out of a loveless marriage but not give up on love, with or without marriage. Nighat also explores her own story as a woman who dared to make choices that pitted her against her family and cultures. Alternative Realities is her jihad or struggle to deconstruct the demeaning stereotypes that prevail about all Muslim women. It is a reflection of the myriad ways in which, despite these misogynistic forces, they continue to weave webs of love and peace in their own lives and in the lives of those they live with.
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