Artwork by Mahrukh Khizar
By Shaezal N. Cheema
The first time I heard the word behenchara was when my chemistry teacher in O Levels caught a couple of girls cheating in the test and said, “Bhaicharay ka suna tha, behenchara pehli dafa dekh raha hoon”. For some reason, that word really appealed to me, but it took me quite a while to truly experience what behenchara is really like. It was during my freshman year at university when I realized the importance of developing sisterly like friendships. You need some girls in your life who you can rely on, who you know would be there for you whenever you need them. And I was more than blessed to have found not one but four such girls.
It was our first day at university and being a hostelite I instantly connected with the two girls I knew from my city, Momina and Unsa. Unexplainably, we had this instant understanding with each other and a sense of ownership that subconsciously made us protective for each other. Weeks later, I formed a similar bond with two other girls who would always be there for me, Vaniza and Iqra. These girls had become my support system at university. They heard me complain every day about the stupidest things but never got annoyed with it, instead, they would always find ways to make me laugh and offer me help. Momina would always come to my room and ask me I have eaten or not. Iqra would always come over with some fruit and just to check up on me. Vaniza would always message me when I had to go back home to check if I had reached safely. Unsa would always check up on little things, ask me if any joke unintentionally hurt me or not. All these little things meant a lot to me. They gave me an assurance that I have people in my life outside my family who care for me and look out for me. I remember how protective we got when Unsa went on a trip with some other friends, we kept texting her, asking her if she had her medicines and had eaten properly. Winters were made bearable because we shared warmers with each other in case one did not have any. We cooked and brought food for each other when one did not feel like getting up. I still remember how I once got sick in February and all these girls took care of me like a parent does. Momina kept checking my temperature, Unsa and Iqra made sure I ate, Vaniza was always there to see if I needed any medicines or any other thing from out of campus. My first day at university was terrible, but ever since I met these girls my upcoming days became one of the best in my life. They made me feel better about unapologetically being myself.
In a world where women constantly live under a fear of being harmed when they step outside of their house, friendships like these help you overcome that fear. It is this behenchara that makes the life of a woman easier in the simplest of ways. From the little moments in which we fix each other’s make up to the more complex ones in which we are figuring out how to cheer up the one who is crying, we became sisters. It sounds corny, but these ‘unbiological’ sisters are essential in every woman’s life. Every woman deserves to have a supportive female backing in her life. In a world where profanities based on sisters are common, terms like behenchara are a dire need.
I am a sophomore at Lahore University of Management Sciences, pursuing a bachelor’s in economics and Politics while nurturing my passion for writing. I am currently serving as a Media and Design Director at Publications at LUMS while also freelancing for various projects. I am a volunteer worker, I have worked with various women-centric NGOs and projects, such as The Mirror and Project Zeest, that focus on empowering the women of today. I like to read, write, bake, and debate in my free time.