Heart Tantrums and Brain Tumours
A Tale of Marriage, Misogyny and Muslim Feminism
Tackling abuse, identity and inequality, a courageous tale of a feminist supporting her husband through his personality-altering brain tumour.
When Aisha Sarwari moved to America as a young woman, she set out to create her own identity and story. Born in Uganda, she had never lived in South Asia, yet struggled to reconcile the cultural expectation to be a ‘good Muslim girl’ with her desire for equality and acceptance.
After she met Yasser, a Pakistani law student, they returned to their ancestral country and married. Little did they know that a brain tumour would become a near-lethal third wheel in their relationship. The cancer gnawed at Yasser’s personality, provoking aggressive outbursts. Was the illness still the explanation for his violence, or had it become an excuse? Aisha began to see their marriage within a bigger picture—of an oppressive society, and of the tug between feminist principles and personal happiness.
Between Africa, America and Pakistan, Heart Tantrums and Brain Tumours is a unique story of identity and belonging, misogyny and motherhood, patriarchy and partnership. Its searing honesty and political passion reveal one woman’s battle to redefine the rules—by fighting for, and sometimes with, the man she loves.
‘Genuinely moving. Exceptional.’ — Moni Mohsin, author of The Diary of a Social Butterfly and Tender Hooks
‘A beautifully written, moving story. The power of words hasn’t been better evoked!’ — Shashi Tharoor, Indian MP and author of Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
‘A brilliant book. Tragic, painful and yet so inspiring.’ — Nadeem Farooq Paracha, journalist, historian and author of Soul Rivals and Points of Entry
Aisha Sarwari is a public speaker, women's rights activist, co-founder of the NGO Women's Advancement Hub, and author of two books on feminism. Her commentary has appeared in The Economist, The Guardian and The Express Tribune; on NPR and the BBC World Service. Based in Islamabad, she tweets as @AishaFSarwari.