Paradigms of Motherhood in Shahid Nadeem’s Plays: Kala Meda Bhes/ Black is my Robe,and Bari/ The Acquittal


  • Dr Sobia Mubarak Govt. Graduate Islamia College (W), Cantt, Lahore
  • Madiha Aftab


Maternal, matrifocal, motherhood, patriarchal, power



A central aim of Shahid Nadeem’s plays: Kala Meda Bhes and Bari is to redefine the role of mother in South Asian society, especially, in rural areas of Pakistan. Both these plays are matrifocal narratives in the sense that they seek to interrogate the maternal role and subjectivity. The paper aims to explore the “agony and ecstasy” of motherhood, the social pressure on women who are childless (Kala Meda Bhes), and the way state controls and uses different modes of regulation to subjugate women in custody-the unwed mothers/ rape victims (Bari). I argue that a woman’s power to reproduce and nurture the species is transformed into the most implicit instrument of her servitude and exploitation. “Motherhood” is the most paradoxical term in the sense that it empowers and subordinates women simultaneously.  The plays in this study also seek to explore power in its different aspects, both in covert and overt forms. In the traditional patriarchal societies, women have some power in a very restricted sphere, marked as women’s regime but it operates under the authority and control of male heads of the family and community. The plays study how the” category of the woman is constructed in relation to the category of the child” (Carol Smart). These plays can be termed as maternal texts as they seek to interrogate mothers who are embroiled in similar predicaments. The paper uses qualitative method as the research methodology and interrogates motherhood from the perspective of feminist theorists like Elain Tuttle Hanson, Jasodhara Bagchi, and Adrien Rich and Hélène Cixous.

Key Words: Maternal, matrifocal, motherhood, patriarchal, power