A traditional Pakistani society -even the Urban Community- is still, in this twenty first century, not very prone to the idea of a love marriage, which is indeed a shame to this society but that’s not the point of discussion today.
So, a girl aged 18 is forced or rather lured into getting married to a 23 year old hardworking or sometimes hardly working lad. Just to be more clear and precise, I said ‘lured’ because marriage is made to look like a bed of roses to girls and a rose of beds (if you know what I mean) to boys in countries like Pakistan. Apparently, before we go any deeper into their oh-so-thriving marriage lives, we must know what their pre-marriage backgrounds are.
She’s a girl born in a cultured and traditional household where she’s taught, since her childhood, that her prince charming would come and he’ll sweep her off her feet. But, she’s not allowed or it’s rather unethical and extremely unruly for her to find him or meet him herself. They -yes this ‘they’ is an ambiguous pronoun here- ought to choose him for her and she’s bound to spend her life with him. These girls are taught to be efficient chefs and highly skilled housewives. They are taught to waste the day at home doing the laundry and to look good in the evenings for their husbands. Precisely, they are taught to be pleasure providing poor puns to their husbands. Concisely, they are taught to be anything but themselves. They are taught how they have to stay at home and look after the house, cook, do the laundry, do the dishes, give birth, look after the kids, raise them blah blah blah…
They provide them with the character and scrip and the girls are ready with dialogues learnt and gestures memorized to pose to be an elegant daughter in law, an understanding and considerate wife and obviously a proficient house keeper. In the anticipation to play all the roles properly, she forgets herself, she loses herself or I’d rather say half of them have never found themselves hence; losing is not an option for them.
She hasn’t seen the world. She wasn’t allowed to open her eyes and observe and explore. Her eyes were shut. She saw the world from other people’s eyes; father’s, mother’s and the society’s. She was never conferred with the right to experience life face first. She was never allowed to drive, she always sat in the back seat while ‘others’ steered the car for her. And guess what? She has always been happy with the setting. Or has she? Even if she hasn’t been happy, she embraced it with her hands wide open as if it was the only reality of her life. Now, that’s a daughter they’d call their pride; a daughter who’s a human less and a mute wordless painting more. And, that’s exactly what they desired for.
On the other hand, the young man has recently done his bachelors. He started his job. He has spent the last five years in the craziest ways possible partying around with his friends every other night. He went out, met girls, had relationships, broke them, fled around, studied, made a career, returned home, got pampered by mummy and daddy and went out again. He does not have a faintest clue of what responsibilities are. He has been taught since his childhood that he’s a man. He has got an upper hand over women. Women can never compete with him or stand shoulder to shoulder with him. They –yes, ‘they’ is again an ambiguous pronoun here- taught the guy since his childhood that after he has had all the fun he wished to have with girls out there, he’s going to get a burqa clad highly virtues girl. He’ll do the extra ordinary favor to her and her family by marrying her and accepting the dowry which is oh-so-lower than his standards. These boys are not made to repeat this mantra like an enchantment because it settles in their systems all by itself when they reach puberty.
He has been observing this ‘male dominant’ society since he was just an infant. He has seen in his baby court how his father fearlessly shouts at his mother and how his mother fearfully cries her eyes out silently. He has seen through the window, while carrying his cricket bat around in the backyard with his friends, how the neighborhood girl, same as his age, is not allowed to come out and play. And finally when he entered his teens, he has seen girls getting harassed and abused on the roads by some gutsy and spirited young lads. He has tasted the power. He has savored the flavor of supremacy and command already, how on earth do you expect him to not enjoy it when every male he has seen since his childhood is enjoying it? It would be a question mark on his manhood to not take pleasure in being superior. He can’t afford it. Can he?
Here he is, ready to take on his throne. He’s ready to get married and take charge; take charge of the house and the woman. He’s going to decide what she wears, where she goes, what she does, and how she lives. It’s his turn to be the man. I’d rather write it in capital letters – “THE MAN”.
Now, the girl and the guy get married. She likes the attention for a while for sure. She loves being told he likes to see her in that color and that he does not want her to be contaminated and seen by other buggers therefore she shouldn’t go here and there. Slowly and gradually, it starts to suffocate her but she has always clinched the suffocation. She has never had the steering in her hands. She’s habitual of it now. He, on the other hand, has all his clothes ready in the morning before going out, he gets to eat the best food and he gets to lie in her warmth before he falls asleep at night. And THIS they call a thriving marriage.
Now, it’s time to have a baby. Family planning? What’s that shit? What the society would say if she does not get pregnant in the first year of her marriage? They’ll all think there’s some biological problem with the girl. Yes, the girl. In a male dominant society, the males can’t have any deficiency especially biological; that’s a rule untold. A girl, who does not know what to do with her own life, gives birth to a child. She is expected to stay at home and raise the child. I need not elucidate what becomes of that kid when he’s raised by a mother like this. And then again, THIS they call a thriving marriage.
This mother tries her hardest, but parenthood gets the best of her. She shouts at her kids like a maniac when she gets angry. She does not know how to deal with her kid’s bad grades. She has no clue how to direct the energies of her super-naughty child. She knows nothing about how to deal with the temper of her teenage boy. She is never able to figure out the right words to say to her girl reaching puberty. Blame her. I dare you to blame her. This society must die before it blames this mother. She did not have a mother who knew what to say to her when she had her first period. How do you expect her to know what to say to her own daughter after that? And now again, THIS they call a thriving marriage.
You never let the girl find and explore herself. She has no personality because you never let her have one. How do you expect her to give her kid a personality now?
Women are believed to be brainless and spiteful. They are believed to be petty and scornful. They weren’t born brainless or petty or scornful. They were shaped to be scornful by the society they belong to. When you’ll give them very little or almost no exposure at all of the world, they’ll have no other choice than to make a bubble of their own where they are the queen. If you cage them up in a little burrow, how do you expect them to follow the norms and conducts prevailing in the wide world?
This marriage takes herself away from her. This marriage ruins her personality. This marriage sucks her being out of herself. And then again, THIS they call a thriving marriage.