Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

Paul: Holly. I’m not gonna let you do this I’m in love with you.

Holly: So what?

Paul: So what? So plenty! You belong to me!

Holly: No. People don’t belong to people.

Paul: Of course they do!

Holly: I’m not gonna let anyone put me in a cage.

Paul: I don’t wanna put you in a cage, I wanna love you!

Holly: The same thing!

I officially no longer know anyone who is not single, like me. There’s something wrong with me.

And not because I’m single. And not because I don’t have a love-life. And not because I’m not in a relationship.

It’s because I want none of the above.

I’ve tried to rationalize it, to understand it. But there’s nothing that has traumatized me. It’s not cynicism. It’s not bitterness. It’s not even disinterest. It’s just something I don’t want or need.

Do I want a relationship for the companionship? No, not really. Other people exhaust me. Even going out with my family is sometimes difficult, because I would much rather stay in my room and read a book or chat with a friend online or watch a TV show.  Meeting friends leaves me emotionally drained, no matter how much fun I have. Socializing panics me, and the nervous hyper energy that results gives the illusion of gregariousness. So no, I’m rather fond of the idea of moving into my very own apartment, living completely on my own some magical day.

So I need a relationship for love? Absolutely not. I’ve made the mistake of centering myself, my life, my personality, my whole being around individual people, attaching all importance to them, and falling apart the second my relationship with those people frayed. It took a lot of hard work to realize and understand that for every single person I lose in my life, there are so many people remaining who love me and would do anything for me that I shouldn’t even feel the loss of that one person. Sure, those people are friends, family, children, cats. But love is love, no matter what. The form changes, but the substance remains. I need love and affection, in no specific form precisely.

And it certainly doesn’t give me happiness. I mean, my personal past aside- some details even I don’t publish online- relationships don’t precisely affect my happiness in any way. Well, they do sometimes make me miserable. Sometimes, they make me cheerful. But happy, no, not precisely, no. Food makes me happy. Writing makes me happy. Winters and rain makes me happy. Relationships, not so much.

Everyone has to settle down some day, you think. Part of settling down is marriage, you think. Yeah, no, not really. That may be the case for some people, but not all. And I’m not some people, not by a long shot. My opposition to marriage has a lot to do with how unnecessary and in a Pakistani context, problematic it is. I do not at all feel safe or secure considering marriage under current Pakistani laws. And if something makes me doubt my own security, then I’m not inclined towards it, obviously.

Children? I’ve done my research. Single women can and do adopt in Pakistan. It’s difficult, more difficult than it is for normal couples but hey, that just makes the feminist in me snarl and say, bring it on. And I actually do want to adopt. I don’t intend to procreate, not at all. I consider procreation to be an extremely selfish act. But I absolutely love children, I think they’re beautiful and amazing and so full of life, and for that reason alone, I want to adopt a child someday, because every child deserves love and family, and many children do not have that, and I want to give such a child a home because I don’t care whose blood she or he is, I’ll love them and they’ll be my children, no matter what our blood says.

That wraps up all the traditional reasons for relationships and marriage. Honestly, I genuinely cannot fathom why there is so much social pressure to BE in a relationship. I feel like I’m living some sort of soap opera where everyone is cool and single, and then suddenly even though they’re still cool, they’re also in a relationship, and I’m the only one who doesn’t conform, who isn’t the way people are supposed to be.

Whether it’s an old girlfriend who’s met her first boyfriend and will typically marry him, or friends in foreign countries with more independent, individualistic relationships, or friends with long-distance relationships, slowly, everyone has “fallen in love” so to speak, if not conformed. I haven’t and I don’t want to. I wrinkle my nose in disgust at people’s stories, because tales of companionship nauseate me. I wonder how people can live together and not hate each other. I wonder why people, especially women who are strong and independent-minded individuals have any need for a relationship in the first place. And how do all these people find the time to balance work and studies with all this love business? Ugh.  My sole priority right now is getting my life together, because it’s been in shambles for too long and I need to fix it because I can’t be one of those people who are miserable and thus lash out destructively at everyone around them.

I find it difficult to deal with people’s reaction to my my relationship aversion. If you’re a Pakistani girl, you’re sure to have heard many times, from many people, the typical “oh all girls say they don’t want to get married until their parents make the perfect match for them/until they meet someone special.” I find it exceptionally disrespectful to hear this in particular, because in the Pakistani context, relationships=marriage, and as a feminist, I find the concept of marriage problematic and within the country’s context, patriarchal and highly misogynist as well. I do not at all approve of the idea that I need to tick a box on a religious marriage contract, whereby my to-be husband gives me “permission” to practice my right of divorce; moreover, I find the family and marriage laws of the country quite distasteful and I do not at all, feel safe in signing away my rights and freedoms so easily. When I’m told that I’m just “going through a rebellious phase,” in that condescending, patronizing tone we’re all so familiar with, you’re not just reducing an adult woman to a “rebellious teenager,” you’re also being disrespectful to said adult woman. While I do not respond to such people, only because I feel that if they’re not open-minded enough to be curious when confronted with different ideas instead of just mocking them, then it shows a lack of critical thinking skills, and I prefer to speak to people who speak with logic and rationality, and are not hostile to any opinion or idea which deviates from “normal.”

A friend pointed out that even those who found relationships silly changed their minds because they fell in love. Because love just hits you in the face, this great, fantastic event that happens and changes everything. Well, that’s cute and sweet and all, but I really don’t want any part of it. Neither did I, he said, but then “it” happened. No one wants to be hit by love, specially people who hold similar opinions. And yet, even if you’re not the sort of person waiting to be whisked away into a faerietale, it still happens.

What troubles me is that I actively avoid any situation that requires unnecessary socializing, and that I’m quick to smile and lie with, “I’m flattered, but I already have a boyfriend,” and that too, to guys I actually do like. Thankfully, such occasions are few and far between since I’m really not the sort of girl that piques male interest. But my instinct towards relationships remains one of fight or flee, and I remain determined to be alone for my entire life. But judging by everything I see around me, that’s not how people work and it’s not how I’m supposed to be. It’s troubling and leaves me feeling alienated and out of place, an awkwardness I haven’t experienced much since high school. I’m not really obsessing about it the way this entire blog makes it sound like, but yes, every now and then, I do stop and wonder, and ask myself if there truly is something wrong with me.

My perspective on love isn’t normal. Not what’s acceptable as normal, at any rate. I’m past white knights and happy endings. I don’t believe there are happy endings in matters of the heart, because I believe that love is something so intense, and so violent, that its unsustainable. My idea of love is Satine and Christian in Moulin Rouge; come what may until my dying day oh and oops, it actually IS my dying day. Or Brokeback Mountain, where love transcends the confines of gender and sexuality and yet, you still spend your lives apart and then one of you dies. It’s the Bollywood movies where the guy is racing to the airport and he and the girl are right next to each other in their cars, at the airport, over and over, and yet never seem to catch the other’s eye or see the other, and only, the ending doesn’t have them finally seeing each other, the ending has the girl going off and the guy heartbroken. It’s The Crow: Stairway to Heaven with the girl dead and the guy stuck in a half-life battling bad guys on the earth. Its City of Angels, because I love Nicolas Cage, giving up heaven only to learn that the woman you did it for has died. It’s Cruel Intentions, because there will always be people who don’t want you to be happy. It’s Closer, ffs, I mean you can’t get nearer to a twisted story about love and relationships other than a movie with Clive Owen, Julia Roberts, and the ever spectacular Keira Knightley.

I’m not Holly Golightly at the end of the movie. For one thing, I would die before I sent my darling cats out in the rain just to make a point. For another, I certainly wouldn’t do so in the middle of the street, where those goddamned stray cats can beat my babies up. I’m not going to let them go and then have some sort of epiphany about love. I’m going to give a Kif-like sigh (Futurama reference for the geeks) roll my eyes, grab the cat, and scratch her tiny  head while watching cartoons or reading a book. To you, it may sound sad, but to me, its bliss. Holly gets the guy at the end. For me, the story ends at the conversation in the cab. I don’t want to cage you, I want to love you. It’s the same thing! That’s it. That’s where the story ends. Paul gets out of the cab after his tantrum and leaves. And as pretty as his ring is, it’s a diamond, and so much for love, the idiot doesn’t even know that I hate diamonds and would never marry someone who doesn’t even know something so small about me, and I’ll put it away and mail it or something to him later. Thank you Paul, I’m flattered, you’re sweet and nice and all the rest, but so long and good night.

That’s my story, and I need it to remain this way. Right now, I just really, really hope that I won’t look back on this in the future and pity myself, or think I was wrong, or change my opinions because I’m in a relationship. I really don’t. I really hope that if future me reads this, she realizes she’s being an idiot and immediately breaks it off with the dude and remembers the woman she truly is. Knowing that all this negates the norm in so many ways, a norm that can be reformed into something less patriarchal and less dependent, and still wishing to abstain…

I don’t have a word for how that makes me feel.

But I know what my story is, and how it should be. I suppose that’s more than most people can hope for, right?

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I don’t look back kindly on my school years because I had crappy teachers, ridiculously uninspired courses, and a seriously awkward adolescence that I’m sure I still haven’t grown out of. But looking back at the girls I knew, I realize how much I learned about the plight of females fromthe lower-income families, but never understood until years later.

These girls were from families that recognized that a little education was important, but only enough to get their daughter, their ever encumbersome daughters married off. By the time I was in high school, there were a lot of jokes about parents nagging at us with hints of marriage; I still make such jokes with friends at uni. But the sad fact is, for the girls from school, these jokes would eventually become reality.

My school wasn’t a very good school but many of my friends, batchmates, rivals, etc. were smart girls. They were talented, active in extra-curriculars, got good grades. When I thought of the future, I saw some of them becoming artists and designers, or entrepreneurs or doctors or lawyers, grand, lofty posts because they had the skills and calibre to reach such heights. Come graduation, we made the usual promises to keep in touch, and gradually drifted apart. I went to a great college, and learned to be more open-minded and less judgmental. I made good friends, smart, enlightened people and realized how miserable I’d been at school. Life was good. Then the news started trickling through the grapevine as word came of so-and-so girl getting married or engaged. Many never made it to college. Some dropped out. Others survived till their intermediate. One of my good friends was the lucky ones; She married a Canadian man after her intermediate, and now, she’s in Canada studying psychology. But she’s pretty much the only one that got a break. The rest, well. Like I said, one by one, they all got married off.

What happened to the girls I knew is just plain depressing. Many did get to university. But the ones that didn’t ,the ones that are now stuck as housewives, they did not deserve that fate. Some are happy; some aren’t. But those that are happy, I believe that is part of the indoctrination of our society. The constant talks of ‘my daughter will Inshallah go to her own home one day’ like its such a great honour, and of how marriage changes everything makes these girls grow up accepting their roles. The fact that our society grooms these girls to accept this, to accept that this is all life will ever be, is not just repulsive, but immensely sad.

Seventeen is not, and never will be, an acceptable age to marry. The country was robbed of immense talent which is always a tragedy. But the greater tragedy lies in the fact that those girls were robbed of their childhood. Because no matter what religious excuses you use, a 16 or 17-year-old is in no way an adult.

Dear aunties,

Now before I begin this, I would like to point out that at this moment, I am in a very mellow mood. I am chugging down a lovely little vanilla latte that I picked from Espresso after a nightmare session of snoozeville at uni. The weather has me in a pleasant, sunny mood, more or less, but I’m really sleepy. Thus, this is not the result of an enraged/scorned girl, but rather, just one annoyed individual.

Now, it has come to my attention that your lot tend to view people in my age group, specially girls, as commodities. Now I’m probably using the wrong word here cause not only am I stupid, but also, my brain exited my head and calmly walked out in front of a car because it couldn’t take today’s weirdass lecture anymore, but be that as it may, it seems that a girl’s only value is her looks, gharilo skills, and degree. Now, I understand that you think that because this is what mummy told you when you cried because she said your place was at home, not at school. But you know what? Fuck. You. Bitches. Times, they are a changing, so get with the goddamned program.

See, us girls, we don’t give a shit about your generation anymore, mainly cause you’re getting old, you’re a dying species, so we’re just waiting for all of you to go extinct. Thus, we no longer have to sit quietly and demurely, look down when we talk, focus more on cooking and cleaning, and study less so as to be a good wife. Here, I would like to reinforce my previous point; Fuck. You. Bitches.

Not only that, but we are growing up in a fast-paced world, and are thus impatient and hasty. Therefore, we do not appreciate;

1) You calling up our mothers and forcing them into letting some excellent woman come see us when we have a midterm the next day, or have just come back after a full day of classes.

2) You coming up to us afterward and telling us not to wear our glasses so we’ll look pretty. Here, I’d like to repeat once again; Fuck. You. Bitches. I like my glasses. They’re a part of my identity. Sure, every now and then, I slip in my contacts when I’m going out, just because I like how pretty my eyes looked lined in kohl(at least, they do to me). But most of the time, I like having my chunky frames perched on my nose. I wouldn’t be a stereotypical writer if I didn’t wear glasses. No. Just, NO.

3) Furthermore, no, I will not dress up for a ten minute visit by an auntie who during that time, will somehow decide whether I’m good enough for her ‘laadla’ or not on the basis of the same three questions; name, field of studies, university name, and duration left in program. I swear to God, it takes all the willpower I have not to just smile at them and say, “Ghausia Rashid Salam, BSS-5, major in journalism and media studies, Bahria University Karsaz, two years left, may or may not do a Masters, depending on whether I get a job or not, okay bye see ya later!” Although now I come to think of it, that would be funny. The point is, I am NOT putting on face powder, lipstick, and liner just for these ten minutes. Get your stinking, paan breath gummy face away from me, you old hag.

4) Look auntie, I realize that you think I used to wear jeans as a kid and don’t anymore cause it ain’t proper anymore. I’ll forgive you for not knowing its cause I’m too fat to carry the look anymore, and thus stick to baggy shalwar kamiz. But I do wear my dupata indecently, I mean, you’ve pointed out that I should cover my ‘sattar’ to me several times. So if I’m burger/modern/awara/beghairat enough not to give a shit about whether my dupata is fulfilling its purpose or not, why, why, WHY do you insist on bringing burqay waliyan to see me? No, I do not give if a shit if ‘larka Amreeka mein settle hai’. I do not, EVER want a fundie mother-in-law. I know what good friends you and that type is, the kind that forces her bahu to wear a chadar, and afer the first baby, a veil. Fuck. You. Bitches. Sure, not every purdah-observing woman is that bad, but I’ve met a lot of them; a LOT. The only non-psycho one is my mother. In other words, QUIT IT. I don’t want a family where mummy tells bubbloo to keep his woman under control. Fuck. You. Bitches.

5) While we’re on the subject, the next time you bring an auntie who asks me what I’m studying, then proceeds to ask, “Parhayi puri karogi?” (Do you intend to finish your studies?) instead of snarking at her that no, daddy’s a smuggler so its all haraam ka paisa that pays for an expensive degree and thus, its not worth pursuing, I want to spit in her face. One of these days, I will. I swear to God. I may be crass and rude, but I really am polite when people aren’t pissing me off, but that is the only response I can give to BS like that. I think its the only response any girl could give to that. I mean, seriously? Seriously?! Bitch please!

6) In the same vein; I don’t mind being asked if I intend to work. I realize that maybe, not everyone asks because they want a gharilo woman but because they actually embrace the concept of a working woman. So that, okay, its fine, you don’t want your son to be the sole breadwinner, well I don’t want that either. But when you get an affirmative answer from me and start listing all the evils of a woman working? Piss off lady, and get the hell outta my house.

7) And no, I do not care how many children you have, stop hinting to me that you want me to tell you my intentions in terms of kids. You haven’t even decided if you want me or not, and you’re asking me such personal questions? Seriously?!

8) Auntie, I know you only came to visit mom and I’m coming to say salam to you for mom’s sake else it would seem rude. That doesn’t mean you can flash me your toothless gums and cackle about how its my turn now that my brother and sisters have been hitched. That just makes me itch to pour rat poison in your juice.

9) Oh and also, if you’re coming to see me and bringing your bahu or daughter, I’m cool with that. Most of them are nice, they flash me a grin that says, “I know how you feel sister, been there, done that,” so it isn’t so bad. But when they’re snotty bitches that smirk contemptuously when I tell them where I study? Are you kidding me? Seriously?! My field is fricking journalism! My people change the world! What has your MBA ever done for you?!

10) Yes, I talk a lot. I have a lot to say. I have, for some reason, a pretty eventful life, so there’s always something to discuss. Yes, I realize that mummy taught you a girl that talks too much is ‘fast’ and thus will never get married. No, I don’t care you paan-chewing hag. Piss off and die.

11) Auntie, I’m a fat chick. I don’t cook because I’m gharilo, I cook because I really, really, REALLY like food and want it to taste excellent, and thus prefer to make my own. You think I’m gharilo? Exhibit a) My room. Exhibit b) Did that pile of clothes just move? Is that a rat underneath? So that’s where Frisky went!  Exhibit c) You running out of the house, screaming in terror.

Lastly, get this through your thick skulls. Marriage is NOT everything. No, its not, its really not. I don’t care if you think a ‘mard’ is like an umbrella for a woman. Maybe in your time lady. I’d like to study. I’d like to be a journalist. I’d like to travel a lot. I’d like to change the world. And maybe, MAYBE if I have time after all that, I’ll consider getting married. Besides, even though you don’t approve of me talking too much, it comes in handy when I’m alone and have only myself to talk to. So, piss off, because I’m single and happy. All the other girls out there who go through this bullshit like me are also happy. We have our studies, our friends, our prospective careers, enlightened parents, siblings. Life is pretty sweet, and we really don’t need anything more. Go. Away.

And yes, I know this is a tired, tired topic. Its still fun to write about, and its good to vent out my frustrations.