Thursday, October 23, 2014

Knight and the Lady- Guest post by Bushra Farooq

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Every little girl is told stories about princes and romance. We are taught how we, as women, are unable to exist without a man in our lives who will protect us and cherish us; who will love us for ever after. The brainwashing is so complete and reinforced by teen romance novels that every girl is waiting for that handsome prince who will steal her heart at first sight and make her feel like the most beautiful girl in the world with eyes only for her.

Then we get married.

No matter what a girl’s preferences are or what she finds physically or mentally appealing, her husband will always be a first or second cousin who her parents chose for her. The fact that she had called him bhai her whole life and is now supposed to be ‘in love’ with him is quite disturbing but who really cares about her preferences?? She finds tall men handsome but ‘phupo ka beta’ had a degree in engineering. She is a happy go lucky kind of person and enjoys the company of those with a good sense of humor yet ‘phupo ka beta’ makes enough money so mum says she should be happy.

Unfortunately, a girl never has her home. She grows up in her parents’ home and her post nuptial home is always referred to as ‘susral’ or husband’s home. Unless she breaks free of the extended family system, she can never have a home. But breaking away would make her so many things that she isn’t in the eyes of the susrali aunties that it is just better to live her life in that one room with her three kids all her life.

For most Pakistani girls, Cinderella was narrated backwards. No matter how much we are involved in housekeeping in our parents’ home, it is never as coerced or as challenging when we enter the home of our husband. Nothing a girl does can be up to par, someone will always be complaining about her…..always.

The problem begins with the aunty jee who is searching for a match for her son. Every aunty searching for a daughter – in – law has a very comprehensive list of requirements. The girl she chooses has all that list of requirements and is perfect for her son. She will keep him happy and aunty jee has boasted about her in front of all her kitty party friends. Then the marriage takes place, the husband and wife have tried to create a bond and are very happy together but aunty jee is not happy. The girl has obviously bewitched her son and is trying to steal away her son…… the kitty party friends get to hear how she has no good habits and is the root of all evil and of course the cause of all the problems in her life.

The list aunty jee has is very particular about item number one ……white skin (not a pale complexion) the girl has to be WHITE. She must be slim, have big eyes, long hair, be tall and possess a good figure. Unfortunately, aunty jee forgot to take a look at her son before she left the house. As her son is average looking at best so he cannot be accepted by such a girl ( who would be as demanding!). As she is a rare commodity and she is sought after by all the aunty jees in the area. Her son must earn in the millions and be really good looking to bag such a girl. So he gets the regular looking girl who probably has a very nice personality and is very smart and able……..but aunty jee will never let her forget that she was the second option.

Reproduction is the main need of the hour. Aunty jee is worried that her family’s name must go on regardless of the fact that she searched far and wide for a ‘doctor bahoo’ or at least a ‘masters bahoo’. The girl must stay at home and have children, preferably boys and obviously at least four to ensure a long healthy and lasting next generation! If she wants to do something then she can always make more food for the family and spend less time on the phone to her mum.

The list of problems is endless and no matter which household you look in you will find similar issues. Why do we then as parents assume so much control of our children’s lives? Do we have to constantly keep a check on their lives regardless of age or relationship status? Why can we, as a society, not accept that if a husband and wife are happy together that it is not our business to ruin their relationship or judge it? Even if two people aren’t very happy together, it is not really an issue that requires intervention from family members. Society has changed drastically in the last 50 years yet we cannot break free of our norms. When can it be acceptable to be married to the man of your choice and to be happy with him? With increasing needs and demands, can we not change perceptions and make lives easier for us rather than everyone living miserably? A thought can change our lives for the better but who is ready to take the step first?


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