Review: Aakhri Station, episode 04

This episode of Aakhri Station deals with the issue of drug abuse and the spread of transmitted diseases, namely AIDS and HIV.

35 people, from a small village in Kot Imranah, in central Punjab, Pakistan, tested positive for HIV. A local quack had been ‘treating’ patients over the years with a single syringe. This quack, named Allah Ditta, himself died of HIV/AIDS a few years ago. The barber shops, local health facilities have poor hygiene that results in the spreading of AIDS/HIV.

This episode of Aakhri Station talks about a woman named Safia, played by Farah Tufail, whose husband, Pervez, has been a drug abuser. He uses syringes to take heroine/opiates and thus becomes infected with HIV/AIDS. His wife therefore is also infected by the same disease as it later is shown. They have a small daughter and are socioeconomically disadvantaged. Safia decides to leave Pervez and live with another family once she finds out that she is infected and her husband refuses to give up his ways. She works in houses as a cleaner to make ends meet. Safia’s mother in law is the exact depiction of the kind of women for whom Madeleine Albright once said, “There’s a special circle of hell for women who don’t help other women.” Safia’s mother in law blames Safia for spreading the disease instead of her drug abuser son, which also explains how misogyny works in denial of clear-cut problems.

AIDS/HIV can be transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids. Therefore if there are sexual relations between someone, or if someone uses the same syringe that someone else has been using or any activity that involves contact with wounds or direct injection into bloodstream. Sharing needles or syringes, rinse water, or other equipment (works) used to prepare drugs for injection with someone who has HIV can also spread HIV.

The lack of awareness, economic weakness, women being at a disadvantage are all contributing factors to the various issues we face as a society. There are around 132000 people in Pakistan who are living with AIDS/HIV with an increase of 39000 since the year before (2016). HIV or human immunodeficiency virus can lead to AIDS. If someone tests positive for HIV, they can live with the disease for a while if there is early treatment and life expectancy can be improved. Unfortunately thanks to the economic disadvantages, poor health conditions, in developing countries the life expectancy cannot be improved much.

This episode highlights many of these problems alongwith the general ignorance we have towards women, diseases, education and health and well being. Combined with poverty and misogyny, how women are pushed into situations where they are simply victims. As we saw in the case of Safia, who had nothing to do with this problem but was shamed, ostracized and eventually had to fend for herself and her child alone in order to survive.

The writing as always is true to the characters as Amna Mufti creates dialog that hit you right in the gut as to just how the gender divide works in a patriarchal society. Sarmad Khoosat’s direction winds the various elements of Safia’s life together. It is his slow and measured treatment of a powerful tale that leaves you experiencing every frame with painful precision and thus surreptitiously sends you over into this not-so-fictitious world.

Kashf Foundation has been brave and intelligent in creating stories that are relevant, impactful and necessary. And by televising it, these ideas can be communicated to families and communities in the remotest areas of Pakistan where, if they watch a drama like Aakhri Station, they will be able to identify some of these omnipresent demons that need to be defeated for a healthier, better society.

Watch the full review here:

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