December Issue 2005
Interview: Hadiqa Kiyani
“I am looking forward to adopting another child”
– Hadiqa Kiyani
Singing sensation Hadiqa Kiyani’s adoption of a new-born baby boy, orphaned by the recent earthquake, has made the headlines. And how! Kiyani’s decision met with nods of approval (“brave…bold…radical”) and disapproval (“But she’s single, how will she manage… she’s copying Angelina Jolie…”). What made a pop singer, at the peak of her career, decide to adopt a child? Newsline speaks to the pop star turned mom on how she plans to juggle her career with the newest addition to her family…
Q: How did you manage to adopt an orphaned child so soon after the earthquake, when there is a ban on adopting earthquake children?
A: I think it was meant to be. The minute I saw images of the earthquake-devastated areas, I was consumed by the thought of the children left destitute by the sudden deaths of their parents. I instantly knew what I had to do and told my mother that I wanted to adopt at least one such kid. With backing from my family, I called up Fakhr (Fakhr-e-Alam) and Aamir Sohail and registered myself with both, as well as with Mrs Bilquees Edhi, since the ban had not been announced till then. Mrs Edhi was already familiar with me as I visit her regularly to distribute gifts to the kids [at the Edhi Centres], and regards me as her daughter. So when I went over this Eid, she promptly informed me that this time round, she had a gift for me — and presented me with this beautiful baby.
It turned out that the baby was pre-mature — born in its seventh month — and there was little hope of his survival. So his parents had sent the child for treatment to the Edhi Foundation in Islamabad, as they could not afford to provide the necessary medical care. It was God’s will that the baby’s parents died in the earthquake in Balakot and the grandfather came to inform Mrs Edhi that she could give him up for adoption to any family that she deemed fit. Mrs Edhi did approach a few families in Islamabad, but no one was interested in adopting a pre-mature child. So, she brought the child to Karachi, and handed him over to me. I was not even interested in knowing the gender of the baby; I just felt he was my own child the minute I touched him. I feel his soul had to be connected to mine — that is why he had to come before his time and survived the earthquake somehow.
Q: You have been nick-named Pakistan’s Angelina Jolie. Would you say you were inspired by her when you decided to adopt a baby?
A: You can be inspired by music and melodies, but you can’t take such a big step out of inspiration. You must have strong feelings from within to take on a life-long commitment like this.
Q: How did you come up with the name Naad-e-Ali for your son?
A: I was always in love with this name. It means the qualities of Hazrat Ali. I regularly read this dua and the name had been on my mind for many years. So the minute I learnt it was a boy, I knew what I was going to name him. Nayyara (Nayyar Noor) apa’s son is also named Naad-e-Ali. It has nothing to do with being Shia or Sunni, it’s about being a good Muslim.
Q: Have you ever had a moment’s doubt after taking such a major decision?
A: No. I’ve felt like a mother ever since I adopted him and there is not even an iota of confusion in my mind. People keep asking me how I feel when he keeps me up at nights — well, every mother goes through that, so I am no different. He wanted a mother and I wanted a baby, and we were meant to be.
Q: Didn’t Mrs Edhi have any problems with the fact that you would be a single parent?
A: No, I think I had reassured her that there was a mother inside of me that was capable of taking care of a child. I was three-years-old when my father died and my mother brought us up so beautifully that I never felt deprived in any way, so I knew I could do the same for my child.
Misfortunes can occur in any family — couples get divorced and often it is the mothers that are left to bring up the children on their own. I have studied child psychology and know how to handle kids and, in any case, children tend to get easily attached to me.
I know I can bring up my baby single-handedly and am, in fact, looking forward to adopting another, once the ban is lifted.
Q: How do you propose to look after two kids, particularly if the second one is a new-born as well?
A: It shouldn’t be so difficult. When one is being looked after, the other one will too.
Q: Does that mean you have no plans of getting married in the future?
A:I will, Inshallah, get married to someone who will first accept Naad-e-Ali, for he will always be my first baby. I am completely open to the idea of getting married and am aware that the institution of marriage offers the ultimate security to a woman. People tell me I have carved a difficult path for myself. But even music was not an easy profession to pursue. It seems I always choose to go against the odds. I am in no rush to marry though, and would want a good human being to be the father of my child, someone who can give him a father’s love.
Q: How will you cope when you travel for concerts abroad?
A: I’ll cope. Mine is not a nine-to-five job. I can say no whenever I want to. It is entirely up to me whether I want to take up a show or not. Music is obviously an integral part of my life and my profession as well, so I have no choice but to manage. I am already very selective about the kind of shows I take on, and will now become even more selective. I have two or three international shows lined up so I will do those and then take others at my convenience. And, Inshallah, my son will travel with me as he grows older. I am waiting for him to turn at least six- months-old so that he is strong enough to travel with me. As for local shows, they are mostly over the weekends and my mother is a pillar of support, so I will be able to manage.
Q: When do you plan to tell him that you are not his biological parent?
A: It depends on when I feel he is psychologically ready for it. I want to be the first to tell him, though, and don’t want him to discover it from an outsider. And I plan on telling him in a way that he won’t have a problem absorbing it.
Q: Considering that you announced his adoption at a high profile press conference, don’t you think you will have to inform him pretty early in life? Kids are very smart these days, and it won’t be long before he learns the truth.
A: I couldn’t afford to keep the adoption a secret. Maybe, if I had been a man, I wouldn’t even have let my shadow know about it, but as an unmarried woman, and that too a showbiz personality who spends a lot of time abroad, I had to inform the world at the right time. I couldn’t take risks with my reputation — it was not about getting publicity at all.
Q: Have you faced any direct criticism for adopting a child while being single?
A: Not directly, but there has been criticism, although not from people I know — they have been very supportive. But, just as there have been supporters, there have been detractors too. As far as I am concerned, I really don’t care what others think. Some people can’t relate to my music either and they, too, don’t matter to me. The world is changing and it is time we began to take bold steps. I can’t possibly satisfy the whole world, and feel as long as my spirit is happy, that is all that matters. I know I am on the right path and that is important to me. There will always be people who speak negatively.
Q: Have you considered the possibility that you might feel differently once you have your own kids?
A: No, because Naad-e-Ali will always be my eldest child. I have already gone through the experience of ‘adopting’ a child as I took care of my nephew 24/7 for five years, and know how attached we are to each other.
Q: You were married at one point in time. What went wrong?
A: I was married for five-and-a-half years, but had no kids because my husband didn’t want children. That was one of the multiple reasons why we eventually split. It’s strange that when I was married I had no kids and now that I am single, I am a mother. God really works in mysterious ways. But, it is just as well that we didn’t have kids, for divorce would have been inevitable and that would have been disastrous for the child.
But, I strongly feel that no matter how much an individual may want to adopt a child, it should be a family decision. It is a commitment of a lifetime and you grow with your child. If your family is not supportive or if the family circumstances are not such that you can do justice to the child, then you shouldn’t go in for adoption.
Q: You were engaged for two years. Did you have any inkling that there would be so many major differences between you?
A: Yes, a strong one. But I was too chicken to take a stand and didn’t want to hurt him. I kept thinking in my naivetÃ© that things would change, and I gave it my best shot but we were not meant for each other. We were separated for nine months and thought about it carefully before mutually deciding to end it in a civilised manner.
Q: What are your upcoming projects?
A: I am doing an English album with Aamir Zaki. It is a very conceptual and mature project called Roughcut and will not only be our first debut album in English but the first by any local female artist. We have touched a lot of socio-political issues in it as well as emotional ones. I am also working on an Urdu album and have already done four tracks for it. Once the English album is out in the next two or three months, I will begin to concentrate wholly on the Urdu one. I have also done a video with Jami called ‘Iss Bar Milo’ shot in a mental hospital. Its basic concept is that people who are regarded as crazy can often see a lot of things ‘normal’ people don’t. I feel women, who are often misunderstood and suppressed, would be able to relate to it a lot. It is a beautiful concept and has some lovely shots by Jami. I have acted in it and Jami had wanted me to go to the mental hospital to see how they behave but when I had been doing research for my thesis I had been observing ten patients at a time, so I knew exactly what I had to do. I didn’t have to act. In fact, since I wasn’t allowed to wash my face or hair for a week, I was living with the character day and night so much so that it became difficult for me to step out of the character, even if I wanted to. The video should be out in ten days, and I am sure it is going to be very well-received as it touched my emotions as well.
Q: I believe you are all set for a tour abroad soon?
A: Yes, it’s a three-day cultural tour to Turkey, presenting the soft image of Pakistan. I am representing the local pop singers. It’s a government project in which the PNCA is involved. I will be singing a Turkish song that has already been sung by Susan Aksu, a pop diva of Turkey. The song is called ‘Sanalama.’ Earlier, I have also sung in the national languages of Japan and Malaysia when I went for my shows to these two countries.
Q: You studied psychology but are not practicing it at all?
A: No, I don’t have the time and want to do justice to the one thing I am doing. I know that I am such a perfectionist that if I do start a clinic I will begin to concentrate all my energies on it, and my music will take a back seat. But I try to use it in my personal life.
The writer is a freelance journalist based in Karachi. She also works at Hum television.