Written by By Staff Writer
By Rashida Yosufzai, CNN Karachi, Pakistan
Rarely are you surprised by anything in Pakistan. Stories abound of inter-family feuds, kidnappings and mass graves. But it was the case of a young woman who was being whisked off life support as her family decided what to put on her grave that has captured the country’s heart.
On May 5, Veena Malik, a 26-year-old aspiring actress, had been put on a ventilator in the intensive care unit of the Karachi’s Polyclinic Hospital after she fell unconscious in the midst of a disagreement with her cousin, Arman Malik.
She did not come out of the coma until Friday, when she was taken off life support in a last-ditch attempt to save her life.
During that intervening time, her cousin and some passersby jokingly suggested that a grave could be placed on her remains.
“Why not, right?” said Arman Malik, through his mother, Geeta Malik, who took the death certificate to the public, in a video published by Geo News. “And the doctor said no. That’s when (my mother) said they’ll put her on a grave and make an impression of her on the ground.”
The message, distributed by Geo News, has touched a chord in Pakistan, where the number of burials remain low and the number of plots is limited. Even if graveyards are filled to the brim, plots in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, are, by design, meant for one to two family members.
As word spread, passersby from around the city began arriving at the square where Veena Malik was laid to rest.
“She has been placed on the spot of a grave. In this way the community can address her and pay tributes to her through the ground,” Geeta Malik said.
The villagers have taken the stone, and all that accompanies it — a bag of sand and a bag of soil, and a small unclaimed coffin.
Arman Malik, left, and Geeta Malik
Geeta Malik is planning to pass the stone to Veena’s husband, Imran Malik, “in the manner in which she chose it,” she said.
Geeta Malik said she and Imran had been in denial about the situation, considering the woman was still alive.
“When she fell unconscious, I thought she was all right,” she said. “I was not thinking, ‘A damaad am naghma aana (She’s gone away).’ But the doctors thought she was on the verge of cardiac arrest.”
Now that she is no longer a patient, Geeta Malik said, she will be happy to keep her daughter’s body for the rest of her life.