Fatima Bhutto wants you to know she's not so serious
She once cut school to play in the snow, for starters
Fatima Bhutto’s voice is like a pashmina shawl. It’s posh, refined and flows like an ASMR experience. She could be reading out the ingredients on a shampoo bottle and you’d still listen to every word. You feel the need to impress her like you would a favourite teacher in school. Fifteen minutes into our conversation, I had a new lady crush.
Bhutto describes herself as just a writer. A writer you may bump into at Bar.B.Q Tonight, one of her favourite spots in her home base of Karachi, drowning her woes in a sizzling platter. Woes is an understatement for the daughter of a politician and activist, who grew up in Syria and has found herself in the storm’s eye of political and personal upheavals.
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Happy birthday to my darling father, a man who traveled through life kindly and justly, forever moved by love for his country, its people, and all those beings deprived of shelter and care. He would have been 64 today. How lucky I was to have him as the lens through which I saw life
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When she was a child she would write stories and give them to her father as gifts. Like most doting parents, Murtaza Bhutto supported her writing, putting together a collection of her poems for publishing. They’d been preparing to do that just before he was killed. “We published them a year after my father’s death,” she said.
Whispers of the Desert came out when she was just 15 years old, dedicated to her father. “It was a very emotional moment. It wasn’t really about the poems and more about my father.”
Bhutto is intimate with tragedy, but refuses to let her life be defined singularly by those memories. She recalls a prankster father who once pulled her out of school in the middle of the day for an impromptu road trip.
“I’m sitting in class watching a movie and I see my father outside the window and he’s like ‘come out’. And there’s a movie going on and we have to be quiet so I was like ‘no, go away, why are you here?’” He proceeded to knock on the door and tell the teacher that he has to take his now-anxious daughter home.
“It had snowed in the mountains around Damascus that day, and my father drove us there so we could have a snow fight and build a snowman,” she says with a laugh. “That’s one of my favourite memories because it’s so symbolic of his sense of fun, spontaneity and the way in which he experienced the world with so much joy.”
Through the chinks in her armour, lightness shines through every now and then. Her fiercely private nature is understandable for someone who’s grown up in the limelight shone by her political dynasty. But Bhutto wishes people would look beyond the Debbie Downer stereotype.
She isn’t that person at a party who insists on talking about unemployment and Marxism when all you want to do is drown your day’s sorrows in wine. Really.
“My public persona is always so serious. I know I have a difficult, even sad background. I don’t walk around only thinking about economic crises and politics. I do care very much about these serious issues but it’s not the only thing I think about. I’d go so far as to say that I’m actually quite fun.”