by Imbesat Meer
As the Covid-19 pandemic takes the world by storm, life goes on, albeit slowly. With graduation looming over our heads, my peers and I are surrounded by countless uncertainties regarding the future, which are further aggravated with Covid-19 adding a dynamic factor to present and future circumstances. Even in a time of global panic and uncertainty, the desi aunties’ decadence does not disappoint as they continue to focus on their favorite topic: Marriage.
In desi circles, the manner in which marriage is approached as a topic of discussion is in dire need of reformation. When this topic comes up, why is there no attempt to actually guide the youth on it through candid and open conversation rather than treating it as gossip? There is a blatant lack of guidance on what one should and should not expect and want from a life partner and marriage, on a general level and on a personalized level. Without such guidance, how would the youth (having no prior experience in the domain), know what to seek or accept when considering prospective life partners. There must be discussions on compatibility, companionship, and the dos and don’ts of marriages in an educated and refined manner. It is imperative to remember that with divorce still treated largely as a big no-no, marriage is a decision we must stick by for a lifetime.
Consider the abysmal state of current marriage criterions: A person’s marriage worth is judged by evergreen factors, such as a woman’s piety, and a man’s bank balance. There are odd similarities to rishta meetings and purchasing animals for sacrifice from a bakrah mandi. Think of a person’s traits being capitalized and boasted off in rishta meetings and see the shudder-worthy similarities to a mandiwala showing off his goat’s teeth to prospective buyers. The horns, weight and hooves turn into job, skin tone, passport color, ethnicity, and countless other questionable standards to decide someone’s worth.
This brings me to my next question: what exactly is the purpose of a woman in our culture? Since our society refuses to believe that women have a fundamental Kantian right to exist, and women are treated as a means to an end. I repeat, what is the purpose of a woman? To breed? To be an assistant to a man while he works? To act as a surrogate mother or maid?
As a woman who believes in the fundamental rights of a human being, particularly in freedom of choice, I cannot fathom this concept and process of marriage. How is one to marry someone, bear and raise children with them, without actually knowing them or being interested in them to some extent, forget being in love.
Is this the course that women (or even some men) go through in Pakistan? They reach a certain age or stage in life, and suddenly they’re supposed to be married off like a goat ripe for sacrifice?
Shouldn’t marriage be considered when you have found a person you want to be married to, someone you want with you through all the milestones, all the cities you visit, all your plans and dreams.
Lastly, I feel it imperative to point out that the definition of “settled down” for women in our culture is being married. It is not having a job where she can finance herself or afford to live by herself. It is not being independent to the point of having a career better than Shugafta aunty’s engineer son. No. Marrying Shugafta aunty’s darling son with his engineering degree is settling down and something applause-worthy. Only after this can society and family take a collective breath of ‘shukar’ and happiness.
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