I have been itching to talk about this topic for so long. I think I’m gonna faint. In Pakistan, it is like holding your breath under water. You know you won’t last long, and it is impossible to do so. But you have got to hold it in nonetheless.
When I moved to Pakistan I was barely 18. The first few month were a quick blur. As my 18th birthday approached, I remember the urgency of my khaandan walay (extended family) who would probe and investigate my parents as to when I was either getting betrothed, engaged, nikkafied or married. At that time it was just so hilarious. What is so unique about a 21st century girl wanting to study and do something with her life other than cooking and cleaning? No offence to the housewives, I am a fulltime mom now. And mind you it is the toughest job I have ever done! And I have tasted many aspects of the working field. I worked for a multinational Big 4 accountancy firm, taught Professional level students AND I have simultaneously taken my small business (with help of a wonderful partner) from an exciting hobby to an exhilarating international thing.
So my question remained unanswered. Why? Why this urgency?
My queries were further jumbled up when I noticed how relaxed and patient the Larka walas (Boy’s side) always seemed. They were always clear in their head the type of Bahu (daughter in law) they were looking for.
No matter how side-ki-mang (side hair partition) the son was, the mother always seemed to demand a Gori (fair in complexion) Educated, slim, tall, young and sophisticated girl for her
Kaway-ke-mu-wala son. Not to mention she should know how to cook and maintain a household. Aunty-ji what I don’t get is, how do you expect a 16-17 year old to be educated and cook and clean? Seriously.
And do NOT even get me started on the selection process! Oh. I still remember. During a sleep over, my 17 year old cousin asked me “what is wrong with the rishta process? How come the 19 year olds are getting married. And the 24 year olds are not?” And I drew her a nice diagram. Which I will find and attach later! Heh I am sure I still have it here somewhere…
It was basically about the aunties who are desperately searching for a young girl of 18-19 for her 25 year old son. Which is completely understandable. But then, so are the women who have 30+ year old sons. And in the midst of this all, the ambitious 24 year old girl, who went to college, completed her MBA, and got a decent job is left unattended.
The sad part about the culture is that, somehow, they always manage to blame the girl for not being married before she is 24.
To be continued… (for sure)