I ask myself a lot of questions every day. Starting with “why in heaven’s name do I have to get up at 6:30 if my university starts at 9?” and “why is the water so cold in the morning?” and “what should I wear today?” and “Bijli tau nahi gaee hui?” to “Will tomorrow be as boring/ catastrophic/ wonderful/ surreal as today was?” and ‘what if I die tonight?” I ask myself hundreds of questions without bothering to wait for an answer. Most of the time I know the answer, some of the time I don’t and actually want to find out, and once in a while I don’t know the answer and would prefer nobody gave it to me either. It’s fun to have conversations with yourself, but sometimes I wish I’d actually get past the small talk.
I’ve always thought people in the sub-continent were very cavalier about their relationships; in a way, they act much more irresponsibly than people in the West. In a society where marriage is a one-strike-you’re-out game, it’s ridiculous how most of us are willing to leave it to our parents to decide our life partners for us. Most of us includes yours truly, because I am sure that despite all my objections and pseudo-liberalpana, I’m going to end up hitched to the guy my parents pick out for me. I don’t have a problem with their taste- it’s infinitely better than mine; but how can they be so sure that economic, physical and age compatibility(or what they consider compatibility) would also lead to emotional compatibility as well? What if the spark never comes? What if their very intelligent decision leads to a lifetime of dissatisfaction, regret, or what is worse, boredom? What if I meet my soul mate* after I’m married to Mr. Ok- nice-to-know-you? What if Mr. Ok- nice- to- know-you turns out to be Mr. Shut-the-hell-up-bitch?
So today I asked myself these questions, and interspersed between the ‘what ifs’ were the ‘why?’s . “Why am I getting ready for another round of this bull?”, “Why does my mother keep trying?” and “Why am I being forced to wear a bright color? What’s wrong with the white shalwar I was wearing? It was clean!” and “Why is this guy leaving such an important choice to his parents? Because he can’t find a girl? Because his parents won’t approve of it? Because he thinks no girl is worth him? Because he doesn’t care?”
In which case I’d shake his hand. I suffer from all four-if you reverse the genders.
Pakistanis pride themselves on their family system, and really it’s a good one- to an extent. And before people get the wrong idea about my own background: my grandparents didn’t screw up with my parents (shukar) but considering that both my mother and father are the youngest, my gramps (both sides) had already practiced on their older offpring, and Heaven knows, did they muck up with them…
This is the rest of my life my parents are dealing with- my life, this random guy’s and our children’s. Should I let them make the most crucial decision of our lives just for the satisfaction of saying “It’s your fault” when something goes wrong?
* This post is written on the romantic assumption that soul mates do exist. If you take away that one hypothesis, then arranged marriages would undoubtedly be a sensible method of getting hitched.