In Conversation with Sehr Emad

We are back with another author interview! This time Team Daastan interviewed Sehr Emad, the author of Our Small Lives. Let’s hear Sehr’s journey of writing.

Meet Sehar Emad

Sehr is a freelance author and creative writing teacher. She has a masters in Sociology from the National University of Singapore. In addition to that, Sehr also has a masters in Human Resource Management from The London School of Economics. “Our Small Lives” is Sehr’s debut novel. She hit upon the idea for her novel at The Yale Writers’ Conference in 2017. Even though she is originally from Lahore, Sehar currently resides in Manila with her husband and two sons.

Sehr Emad shares her Writing Journey

Sehr began her writing journey early on in life. As a kid, her creativity was always encouraged. “My poems were read out in class, I felt appreciated,” says Sehr. Therefore, it is natural that she continues to pursue writing. Sehr’s writing journey is one filled with memories of appreciation and encouragement. However, she does face challenges as a writer.

Our Small Lives

Our Small Lives is a novel that lays bare the patriarchal notions and marginalisation of minorities present in the Pakistani society. The plot revolves around a young Ahmadi girl Sarah as she struggles to break free from the chains of life. It is a story of religious and racial conflict, lovelessness and duty. You can order your copy of “Our Small Lives” here.

Sehar Emad

Giving voice to Minorities

Through her novel, Sehr is trying to raise voice on behalf of the minorities in Pakistan. She empathises with their struggles and the discrimination they face. “Jinnah wanted a Pakistan where minorities would have a voice, says Sehr. Moreover, she is of the opinion that her faith does not allow her to shun anyone’s religion.

“There have been many incidents time and time again  that show discricimination against marginalised communities. They do not enjoy the same rights as we do.”

The main character of Sehr’s novel is an Ahmadi girl named Sarah. Therefore, she says, “Sarah embodies a disadvantaged position in society due to gender and faith.”

Striving towards a Religiously Tolerant Society

Sehr openly talks about the disparities present in the religious and social structure of our society. She hopes for a better society for everyone regardless of their religion.

“Humanity is the language we all must speak.” – Sehr Emad

Sehr believes that there’s a lesson in history for all of us. We must not let history repeat itself. “The Muslims were persecuted, hurt, exploited in the subcontinent,” says Sehr. She wishes for the cycle of violence to end and to see a religiously tolerant society in the decades to come.

Sehr Emad talks about Patriarchy

Sehr’s book highlights the struggles women face in the society because of patriarchy. According to Sehr, “patriarchy is prevalent in a lot of Asian countries to a large extent.”  In the context of Pakistan, Sehr believes things are slowly changing but still we have a long way to go. She is of the opinion that a step forward in the right direction can possibly change the current narrative.

“Patriarchy has impacted our lives more than we can think of. Women are told they can not live on their own for life. The idea that they need another man’s shelter is instilled in them. We like to believe that such things are merely a product of fiction. However, these stories are very much a part of our realities.”  – Sehr Emad

Message to the Youth

At the end, Sehr talks about the importance of reading. She believes reading helps one to self-reflect, grow as a person and empathise with others. “Reading teaches us to look at life from someone else’s perspective,” says Sehr. One advice she would like to give the youth and everyone in general is, “do not create demarcations and do not label people.”

“I hope my book teaches readers to be more sensitive towards minorities and to be more inclusive of them. I hope it also gives them the idea of how a person feels alienated in their own homeland.”

We hope you enjoyed this candid interview of Sehr Emad. Team Daastan wishes Sehr best of luck for her future endeavours!

Noor Hashmi
Noor Hashmi is a student of literature at Numl University. She is an aspiring poetess. She runs a blog by the name of “Diaries of Huda” sharing her journey through poetry. In her free time, she loves to paint and bake.

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