Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Soul Survivor by Bushra Farooq

(Image credit: Conspiracy Syndrome/ Facebook)

The most beautiful sound in the world is the first cry of a baby. Pure and much awaited. The first thought in every mother's head my baby ok. The first thought in the grandmother's head is........was the ultrasound right? Are you sure it's a boy? Every male, from that very first cry is the most precious living thing for the whole family. Not because he is a child but because he is a he. The pressure of being perfect is now on.

Thanks to feminism and the plight of women who have been living in patriarchal societies since civilizations came into existence, we have ignored the pressures and the plight of men...

Yes, they are the root of all evil

Yes, they are horrible and mean

Yes, we believe strongly in the fact that they have it easy. But do they?

I always assumed men had it simple. They can do what they want, when they want and how they want to do it. But on closer inspection it's not like that. The burdens on a male are as equally suffocating as those on females in society.

As a baby he is well looked after but each mother is worried if her son is growing as tall and handsome as he should. Does he have an aggressive, forceful personality or is he going to be the shy, downtrodden one?

The boy is encouraged at all levels to excel in academics as he has to get a job, not just any job but the most lucrative job there is to offer which of course are in the fields of medicine and engineering. If neither is possible then the alternative is law or maybe banking. Nobody cares if he wants to paint for a living or maybe wants to be a photographer. What if he was particularly good at writing or wanted to become a musician? Mummy jee and Daddy jee will always come up with the same argument……. What will you earn? This is not a respectable profession! What will the relatives think? The conclusion is as usual Mummy jee bursting into tears and Daddy jee threatening the boy with military school.

Sport is viewed as a male area of interest, regardless of his actual interest. He must play and outshine his classmates in playing sports and of course the knowledge of every sport. Imagine the shame Daddy jee has to go through if his son finishes last in the school race. Or what if horror of all horrors he does not have the fit muscular build that Mummy jee can brag about to all the neighbourhood aunties? So what if he loathes sport? That is not acceptable. Is it really necessary for a guy to be this way? Forget about the pressures from the parents, imagine the bullying and taunts he will have to endure in school from his peers! Sometimes bullies can go overboard and children suffer psychological trauma which has dire effects on their personality.

Once he enters university, the ever increasing pressure is now mounting. He must fit in society and do it with such ease as that it seems effortless. The boy now almost a man should be handy around the house, be able to drive his phupos and khalas to the tailor, excel in his chosen field of study, help Daddy jee with the business, start earning and of course be cool enough to be liked by his peers. Girls are able to share their emotions with friends and are allowed to use cosmetics to help themselves feel better and to overcome self doubt. The man whoever cannot do so he must wear each pimple and mark on his face like a medal of honour. Any attempts to hide them will lead to being treated like a leper.

After all these stresses the boy is now a man. Graduated and full of energy, he is searching for a job. Then reality hits……………he realizes becoming Donald Trump might take him a lifetime and he starts with a basic salary (if he is lucky enough to find one). He must now study further and specialize to earn more. Unfortunately, the corporate world is vicious and not everyone can take the stress or able to charm the management enough to get promoted.

At home Mummy jee is now on the hunt for a girl, she has not asked him what he wants or whether he has a girlfriend or not. His needs and wants are not the priority, Mummy jee wants a daughter-in-law she can control and who will be not smart enough to sway her son’s loyalties from her. She must be educated so Mummy jee can show off and be extremely beautiful so that the future generations are guaranteed to be physically blessed.

At first, every relationship has happy moments, laughter and the excitement of being new. Then the reality seeps in slowly and when the euphoria dies down you truly realize if the compatibility is there or not. At this stage he hopes that Mummy jee and the wife get along but he can only hope as most usually there will be rifts and most definitely there will be arguments. Where does the man stand now? How does he give preference to either? Making a choice is impossible and most often leads to the disintegration of one relationship. If he chooses his mother, then his wife and he will always be unhappy and she will make sure he knows about it. If he chooses his wife then the whole world and every relative who cannot mind their business will let him know he was wrong and then of course the guilt inside……

With a growing family come growing needs and demands. Some demands may be unwarranted and too much while other demands are justified and so the poor man must decrease his social activities and search for more avenues to make money. With increased stress and an unhealthy lifestyle comes deteriorating health. The man now hitting 40 is at risk for heart attack, stroke, hypertension, diabetes etc etc

The day he has his son he looks down at him and smiles, thanks God that after he retires he will have someone to take care of him and he will be able to help him provide for the family too. Never does it cross his mind to let his son be. He cannot allow that to happen as he realizes that there is just too much to achieve and it must start from the cradle.

Where is the easy life then?


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