The rishta rat-race that destroyed my friend’s life

Published: July 3, 2013

Marriage was the great question mark for her, a question that slowly took over her entire life. PHOTO: AFP/FILE.

They say if opportunity does not knock, build a door. Our society takes this philosophy a step further when it comes to marriage for women. If love does not knock of its own accord on our doors, they manually construct a loving family by finding the perfect arranged marriage that both sides can approve of.

Often, this approach actually works. Experts claim that in several cases, arranged marriages are far more likely to lead to lasting affection than love marriages. But the period leading up to an arranged marriage in Pakistan – days when relatives go around “looking for a rishta” – is nothing short of excruciating.

Here, I would like to share the story of my friend S.

S had a beaming personality. She took laughter and joy with her wherever she went. She was meant for a carefree life. All she wanted was happiness and personal satisfaction – until she graduated and realised that a stable job and educated profile isn’t enough for the society she inhabited.

No matter how well she was doing, her friends and family kept asking the same question, day in and day out:

 “So when are you planning to get married?”

Marriage was the great question mark for her, a question that slowly took over her entire life.

The colourful rainbow that she called life was suddenly full of shades she never needed. Every day, her parents talked to her about different proposals from men with white collar jobs, golden families and greying hair.

She was relatively unlucky when it came to the genetic lottery. Her complexion was not as bright as society would have liked it to be. Her profession was not the proposal-type: she wasn’t a doctor. Though she won at life, she did not match the presumed guidelines for perfect marriage material.

Countless times, she dressed up in a brightly coloured shalwar kameez, brushed her hair thrice, put on a perfect smile and greeted new guests, who were there to decide if they found her suitable for marriage. But the bottom line was always the same:

“‘She’s not a doctor.”

“Our son is fairer than her.”

“She looks older than my son.”

“She is nothing like her pictures.”

And the most disturbing of all:

“We have seen four girls and we like all of them so we’ll call you when we decide.”

Needless to say, S and her parents never heard from these families again.

Puzzled and depressed, S was slowly losing her self-worth. She began to forget all the personality traits she held dear – she stood at a point where she couldn’t list a single attribute that she admired in herself.

Whenever she would go to a wedding, she watched with envy the lucky couple walk down flower covered path and come out hand in hand; they seemed to have no problems, no complicated concerns. S, however, was trapped in the same sorrow. She asked herself:

“Will my eyes ever sparkle with this happiness? “

Night after night, she wept for herself.

She would come to me and speak her heart out. Her complaints were all of the same nature.

“They rejected me.”

“I’ve been turned down again.”

“I feel like an animal in the zoo – they took my pictures in their cell phones and didn’t even take my consent.”

“I’m 28 and no one wants to marry me.”

I tried to calm her down. I asked her to see a psychologist but she refused. Her depressive state led to a sleeping pill addiction.

Within a few months of seeking relief in pills, she overdosed on sedatives and left us forever.

She kept a journal where she used to pen down her frustrations. The last words she wrote in her journal have stayed with me:

 “Shatter the glass and see the world for what it is; fake nightmares, hallucinated dreams. Yet, even I can smile when I see beauty in truth and truth in beauty.”

It is my humble request to every girl who feels unlucky with love and is facing trouble getting married to not be so hard on herself.

There is more to life than marriage. Commitment, kindness and compassion for your own self, and for the people who matter to you, are much more meaningful than worrying non-stop about getting married.

The legitimacy of an early, speedy marriage is overrated. Don’t fall for it.

Don’t let any one’s pitiful mentality settle inside your heart. Your thoughts are your companions and you are in charge of them – hire or fire them whenever you want.

We all need a place to find hope. In crisis, we forget that this place actually lies right inside of us.

Read more by Rakshinda here.


Rakshinda Mujeeb

Researcher by profession, writer by choice. She also works as a content writer for an NGO. She enjoys the impact her articles have on readers.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • hammad

    Well written,

    unfortunately thats bitter reality of our society where people use to check a gurl like suit in a hanger, this issue should be sorted out with a nuetral way . in order to avoid low self esteem and inferiority complex developed in girls during this time period .

    Rgds Recommend

  • Vaqas

    its all about illiterate people who thinks their Son is best..Recommend

  • Someone

    It’s the mothers. The mothers need to change their attitude. Especially the mothers of girls who expect their daughters to ‘dumb down’ in order to secure a worthy rishta. Mums if she’s educated, working and worldly she will find someone and from what I’ve seen chances are that he will be much better for her than the one you lasso in. Oh … and in addition she can still have children after the dreaded ’30’ benchmark.Recommend

  • HSM

    It’s the girls’ fault too. Why do they let these things get to their heads and these people walk all over them? No, I’m not going to serve you tea; No, I’ll not let you ‘decide’ if you want your son to marry me, infact bring your son along so that I may choose; and I’m definitely not a chinadoll that everyone can just look at. You decide your worth yourself. And it just shows how generally the girls in our society are brought up as weak individuals. Pathetic! Recommend

  • S

    it is heartbreaking and the whole process in our society has issues but do not use this for defaming marriage as a whole.

    Our society is too materialistic. For example being doctor or bieng fair. We as a society needs to come out of this, fair is not always beautiful, it is a perception created by our colonial masters and now media (including bollywood and hollywood).

    It is these concerns we need to overcome. Recommend

  • Babloo

    social education, starting at schools and through social organizations, can help. The following line was very meaningful and everyone should know it
    “There is more to life than marriage. Commitment, kindness and compassion for your own self, and for the people who matter to you, are much more meaningful than worrying non-stop about getting married.”Recommend

  • Hamid Shah

    I think we need to liberalize our culture across the board. Im not asking for a western style social model but we do need breathing space where at least talking to the opposite gender wont be considered a taboo or cause an honor killing. With a little more education i think these problems would sort themselves out in a generationRecommend

  • Huda Sheikh

    Such articles are really needed, when society is making beautiful youthful lives go in such waste or even worst, leading towards the shabby doors… Girl must learn to RESPECT themselves first if parents can teach this to their girl no girl will die depressed or face the worst and dirt realities of life.Recommend

  • A

    Pakistanis as a society pride ourselves on our social values but I think we are probably one of the worst socially. This rishta games shows the true nature of our society but at the same time, I think girls should have the courage & power to refuse or be refused, after all its a life long decision and had several consequences. Recommend

  • SMA

    This is really sad. I can relate to this as I have been through the same -despite previously being a confident self assured individual I suffer from extreme self esteem issues and look for assurance in every personal relationship I have. This has made me paranoid and led to me having severe anxiety. It started as my parents doing the ‘right thing’ and has ultimately resulted in me becoming a wreck of an individual.
    Society needs to stop placing so much importance on marriage – mothers needs to change their mindset and re-prioritise, fairness is no criteria for a good daughter in law.
    If and when I do get married I will make sure I dont subject my daughter to this horrible ordeal.Recommend

  • Danish

    Sad story of every second family. May God bless every “S” around and help her get through well all this social trauma that the would-be or would-not-be in-laws bring about to her.Recommend

  • Maria

    I cant use the word Nice for this post….but its Reality.
    U show true picture…..

    I ve realised about this Rishta process is….our society is totally a
    disbalance society…’s want models mothers wants doctor
    Finally everyone want Housewife…..

    No matter what how the boy and his sister mothers looks like
    But they want doctor as well as fair complection girls

    Hate this system……we have degress but we dont have values….Recommend

  • Naya Pakistan

    “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” – Krishnamurti Recommend

  • Syed Arsalan Ali

    HSM is right, why do females & their family always bow to the visitors for such a noble purpose. When the husband & wife are supposed to be partners in their lively relationship then why women is always given less part in this relationship right from the start? Why do the women & their families evaluate lesser value of themselves & their beloved daughter/sister when it comes to marriage?? Why don’t they ask to bring the man on the visit so that they can cross evaluate him, and the chances of 1 sided rejection are reduced..???

    I too believe in compromises, but they seem working best if all the parties do it not just one.
    I am right now in a hunt for my life partner, and I do give real time chance to my hosts to look for the best in me before I can have a session with her exploring her compatibility & likes with us.

    I also endorse to what my companions already said above that it would be better for all if the man & woman get comfortable with each other prior taking some serious step which usually results encouraging now a days.Recommend

  • Amna

    It pains me to write how true all of this is. I am 23 and i graduated last year.I have a great job and all that jazz but i had to face one such ‘mother’. After a complete once-over she decided that i was too bubbly, too vivacious for her son and that i ‘look’ spoilt and would thus be very demanding. And all of this was decided in exactly 3 minutes.

    Seriously? Who died and gave these mothers the right to rate girls/women on the basis of fairness, height, hair and other downright silly measures. Their sons might be overweight, failures and just plain rude but they want a fair, tall, doctor bahu who is a whizz in the kitchen and drips with charm and poise.

    As far as i am concerned, i believe i dodged a bullet because i do not want my future family to be this retarded but not every girl thinks this way and i honestly feel for the girls who go through this riduculous and easily-avoidable ordeal.Recommend

  • A Novice

    been reading all your blogs, very touching and inspiring at the same time. keep it up. bless you :) not something i’ll forget anytime soon.Recommend

  • anon

    It is not a problem for one side alone although women are at a greater disadvantage because in our society they are worth less than a man. Both genders are shallow and materialistic, most men want their wife to be beautiful, ‘gori’ and educated (even though they are likely not to work), women also want a husband who is from a well-off family, has a good job, etc. The only reason that divorce rate is not very high is that divorce is considered a very taboo subject by most people and one usually develops some fondness with the person one has spent few years no matter how much one disliked the other person at the start of the journey.Recommend

  • nobody

    it is not that eZRecommend

  • ModiFied

    Lately I am against the whole institution of marriage itself. In my view the creation of this institution was the worst form of socialism where the rights of sex were made available to undeserving ones. No wonder we have so many genetic disorders. In my view the right of reproduction should be given only to alpha male and all others should be given the task of only the baby sitting. This will solve many health problems in the society. Recommend

  • Lubna

    I agree with Rukhunda particularly when she says Life is more than just marriage. Only if Pakistanis could get past that. In my observation, people who consider marriage as the ultimate goal of life and look down upon the ones who arent yet married are those who have no other accomplishments in life. Recommend

  • nobody

    its not THAT eZRecommend

  • Khizra Raza

    true that. i find women so disturbed these days because of their bad relationships and rishta hunts where they r treated like display items, there has to be something done about this, girls might not get hurt 2,3 or may be 4th time but eventually when their parents and others start saying things about the girl n how unlucky she is and start picking out faults in the girl IT GETS DISTURBING Recommend

  • Khizra Raza

    it has become a system and girls as well as their parents cant help it unfortunately @HSM: Recommend

  • Khizra Raza

    dude if you are unmarried and you ask yourmother to find a girl she would do the same because its a part of our system now unfortunately. i am not for it cx it seriously scares me but something has to be done how can we let our sisters and daughters die because for this system of rishta hunt cant it be a little more decent??? @Syed Arsalan Ali: Recommend

  • kanwal

    What a tragedy. Our girls need to realise that no matter what anyone says, this life is their own. If they dont price it high, no one else would. If you are successful in your life and happy with yourself, marriage is not the end of the world. And if you truly are successful, many nice men will appreciate you and will want you. Loosing self respect means no one will respect you either.Recommend

  • Unknown

    I would just say that the institution of marriage is corrupt… I don’t know why its so important to get married… If you like someone than get married otherwise continue with your life… Recommend

  • binger

    according to Big Bachaan : there is an insect in every women’s brain that has to be taken out in order to let her face the true realities of life. why, because


    I am a jobless person, no source of income, no permanent house to live, no wealth from parents, I am not like SRK, if I propose you ; are you gonna marry me. Think about itRecommend

  • Aaliya Briggs

    As a society, we have regressed morally to a place where there is nothing but darkness and a hollow emptiness surrounding our very existence. We make tall claims, but we stand for so little. We make sweeping statements and are quick to judge, but we have no moral ground to stand on. Hypocrisy is our middle name, and ignorance our best friend. We are a sad lot, yet we think we are beyond reproach. All of us contribute to this vicious cycle in our own different ways. Some with indifference, others with silence, and many with applause. Until we find the moral courage to break this vicious cycle collectively as a society, innocent women seeking marriage will continue to be judged by people who have no right or place to be making judgements. Yet sadly, we give them the power to belittle us. So until we stand up for ourselves, we will continue to walked upon, and mocked at by people who don’t measure up themselves. Such is the irony.Recommend

  • urooj

    A bitter reality no doubt. Every girl is special in her own way, by rejecting her like this only shatter her confidence into pieces. Recommend

  • Javed

    either practice religion fully in this regard and marry as soon as good person is there, dont run many experiments before nikah or make the free society like Europe or china. Dont try to sit in two boats at one time thats the solution.Recommend

  • S

    Here’s another “S” going through the same tough time. For all those who are saying it’s the girls fault should for once consider themselves as that girl and they’ll understand why do us let these rishtay walay get to our heads. I am going through this shell too when IT was like ” I would never serve someone tea like a stupid puppet” but then again things are easier said than done :( I hope things in my case don’t reach this limit where I start considering options like suicide but IT have a feeling they will :(Recommend

  • Raza

    Oh please. This whole female self-pity has gotten so outdated that I didnt even have to read this blog to know what it said. The arranged marriage process in our society is a failed one; no secret there. But what ET bloggers miss out on is that while girls can face trauma, so can boys too. Don’t delude yourself that we still live in the 70s when only the larka and larka walas were zaalim, and girls were all mazloom. We’re not. Girls and their families also seek the best ‘package’ these days, they also judge guys on same materialistic/hollow standards, they also play same politics after marriage. The rishta process & arranged marriages can be equally flawed and unfulfilling for both boys and girls.Recommend

  • ishtiaq

    Its a story of thousands of girls in our society,
    Bur usually people try to show only one side of the problem, Its not the Boy’s family who rejects rishta, often girls also reject boys, because boy is not handsome, dont have a good house, family is too big, his income is low.. and many other reasons. But many people also find their life partner with the same approach.

    I am sure that S had also rejected many boys because of the reasons mentioned above. Recommend

  • Concerned

    I hope ET that you publish my comment.

    @ Vaqas
    Its not true. There are several “highly-educated” families who have sons working abroad and they criticize and pinpoint the girls’ ‘faults’ more than anyone else. If their son has received education from LUMS, IBA, or some foreign university, then they will want a girl who is fair, tall, slim, and have received education from such universities.It does not matter whether the son has failed in his academic career or the girl has been a model student all her life.

    Its really sad to see these “highly-educated” families acting like totally uneducated people when they start giving their judgment on girls. Recommend

  • gp65

    @Vaqas: Why blame the parents of the potential groom who are after all strangers. If the friends could accept her for who she is including her single status, she would not have lost her self esteem. If her parents could have continued the search for grooms without literally making it a do or die effort and acting like her life and their own would be not worthwhile until she got married, she probably would not have felt more worthless with each rejection.

    Life of a single woman maybe different but it is not deficient. Having 100% control over your time and 100% control over your money are not bad things you know.Recommend

  • gp65

    @SMA: Don’t be hard on yourself. Most important thing is if you like yourself and your own company, you will never be lonely. If you respect yourself you will not hanker for respect from other people. Then to the extent that you are respected and well liked by others it will be a bonus. My 2 cents.

    To others who comment on fairness being such an unnecessary criteria:

    Preference for fairness is not the issue. If it were not fairness, it would be height, if it was not height, it wouldbe weight, if it had nothing to do with looks, it would have to do with girls’s income or education, if not that tthen the girls’ family status. No matter what the criteria, some girls will be more desirable from marriage perspective than others. Changing the criteria for bahu selecion is not the solution. The solution is not tying up your whole sense of self worth with what random strangers think of you.Recommend

  • Syeda

    A girl needs a lot of strength to cope up with this period of her life… Rejections aren’t limited to wheatish or not-so-good looking girls, sometimes for the guy’s family even having everything is less to count. These are the only things which make love marriage a bit better, in that case the family will scrutinize you from every angle, at least the guy is yours.Recommend

  • Z

    Well guys according to this article I’m the PERFECT PROPOSAL MATERIAL… but still I’ve heard the SAME and still hearing all this rubbish.. this Sept I’ll turn 29..
    Truth is that we can’t change our destiny..
    But I request the men seeking proposals and especially their mothers to have fear of ALLAH in your hearts before saying such nonsense…
    Before setting your priorities for a match think logically…
    Don’t be a part of any stupid RACE…Recommend

  • Emmron

    Arranged marriages are nt tht complicated its getting too much bad reputation by our so called “high societies” none of these requirements are needed for working class people. Whts even more funny is tht thy would make fun of u if ur parents arranged marriage for u. My advice for those of u who r looking for fair nd lovly. Pay attention to the person nd get to know thm rather thn superficial things.Recommend

  • Z

    I’m sorry Mr. Arsalan and HSM with all the respect I’ll disagree with you…
    If you go somewhere as guests and the hosts show such rigidity.. will you be comfortable there… or would you find such rigid individuals to be suitable for a bond as COMPROMISING as marriage…??Recommend

  • Azmat

    Very depressing.Recommend

  • Crispy (author’s fan)

    dear author i want u know that ur words bring smile to many people and im one of them. keep em’ coming :)Recommend

  • Parvez

    You have written this as if its a true story and it very well could be because the circumstances are so real……………excellent bit of writing and you certainly managed to get the message across.

  • hamid siddiqui

    Good Topic and at the same time sad to the limit of cruelty, and the whole society is to be blamed for this culture, parents of the girl and boy both are involved, then the individuals girl or boy is also to be blamed, it is a mess. First step is education, the education will not only give the understanding but a confidence to the girls that they can live by them selves, and a confidence to the parents of a girl, who only get desperate for a RISHTA, because they think if she don’t get married she will not be able to survive in this world, and by education at least her financial survival will be resolved, I am proud to be from a conservative family, but this conservative education has given me the strength to differentiated between right and wrong, and this is what we conserve and value the most, when I got married,(an arranged one) my only condition to my sisters and bhabis was that first see the girl without any hint to any one and if you feel that the family is good, the girl is educated and as per our family, I will see her and only then we will go to the family with proposal, because according to my family upbringing it is the biggest sin, to tell the entire family that someone is coming to see your daughter, asking the daughter to display herself, and then rejecting her for any stupid reasons. And how would we feel if the same happens to our sister or daughter? And on top the fear of Allah. We as a society have to be realistic and bold, we have to start accepting the realities of this world and adopt the true values, the values which are not bound for religion, color, cast or country, the value which separate us from animals and that is caring and respecting each other, treating others as we like to be treated. And this subject should be discussed and brought up in Urdu news papers, as well as Dramas, as a mission to benefit the mass and create a better society.Recommend

  • excalibur

    Not sure if the story is fiction because the blogger even could not stop her from taking that extreme step.Stop this the girl only martyr doctrine

    With the advent of nuclear families and our culture girls are generally married off within the relatives as a first and easiest option. But it is now clear that genetic disorders are multiplying especially in first cousin marriages. The social circle, place of work, study are the next stops.
    More recently websites have been getting widespread in match making.

    But in all scenarios it is not always the girls who get the short shrift boys also suffer.
    Every girl and her family wants the groom to be handsome, rich, well settled, in a good and well paying profession and earning a fat salary with maybe a house, car, and independent of his parents preferably having a foreign citizenship /green card etc All quantifiable factors

    As for the girl beyond the looks rest is unknown and cannot be validated

    So lets be fair to both the boy and the girl and their parents. It takes two to tangoRecommend

  • np

    @Amna: Self respect and dignity are wonderful qualities to have and very atractive to the beholder. Arrogance and self entitlement are not very charming at all. If you come across as flighty in person as you do in your post…

    Don’t take the word of a stranger like me. Get feedback from your friends and then listen instead of getting defensive and biting their heads off. Good luck.Recommend

  • Aviator

    Well written and insightful article.

    The system of arranged marriage has become a dark, materialistic, and soul-less practice. It has nothing to do with love or even happiness between two people, but is all about money and social status. Avoid!Recommend

  • Insaan

    @SMA: despite previously being a confident self assured individual I suffer from extreme self esteem issues and look for assurance in every personal relationship I have.

    Are you saying others control your feelings? Do you mean others changed you from being a self assured individual to low self esteem individual? Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    The rishta brigade, for the sake of sanity, needs to disappear.

    No woman should never have to be put on a spot and evaluated from head-to-toe like a goat in bakra-mandi. And no man should have to endure that either.

    A person is more than the sum of his skin complexion, salary and physique. You cannot measure a person’s worth simply by fixating on a few individual components. That assessment can only be made by getting to know a person and spending time with him/her.Recommend

  • Zulfiqar Ali

    Very true image of our society , it is not a matter of literacy it is a matter of mindset of our society even in well educated families and also happening though their own daughters are not good looking but those mothers are looking for the bides with fair complexion.Recommend

  • Citizen

    @Khizra Raza:

    Don’t make it sound like we as a society cannot be able to do something about it. The girl’s parents have every freedom to refuse such superficially motivated, materialistic hunts for rishtas and what not if the daughter is uncomfortable with it. The minute families begin to refuse such inhumane treatment is when progress can be made. I hate to sound repetitive, but the only way out is to say NO. NO to harassment, NO to inhumane treatments, NO to centering lives around marriage proposals, and a HUGE NO to sacrificing personality and individuality for crass societal expectations. Pakistan is going down if we let norms like these continue. WE ARE THE CHANGE. Rishta aunties won’t stop unless we make them. Start today, DON’T LET YOURSELF BE OBJECTIFIED in such a way.Recommend

  • TheOnlyNormalPersonHere

    yes life has more things to indulge in rather than marriage but what if a girl’s age goes by? then no one will even come to even see youRecommend

  • AP

    What is wrong with not being a doctor and what’s the whole problem with the complexity issue. I never understood desis like that. Anyways darker girls are way prettier in my opinion anyways! Very very sad to read this story. It reminds me of an old friend. Don’t know whether she got married yet or not. I hope she finds the one she wants to marry and feels content with herself.Recommend

  • kashif dada

    dont follow the Sunnah and religion & brace yurself to even more horrifying issues like this.

    Please dont forget it is the right of guys family to see the girl and vise versa.
    But of course i despise the negative attitude which ever side it comes from

    I pray she gets a place in Jannah.


  • Clarus

    what about the other end? dont girls parents rate guys over their house, wealth, education, height? this is happening both ways. Guys do face rejection too. Have girls ever thought how a guy/his mother would have felt? Girls only take all this as a joke when they reject a guy. Guys/their Parents now for sure know all what a girls family looks in them is their money and how established they are. The world is materialistic accept that, if a girl expects that the guy should be a prince charming, why cant a guy expect his wife to be princess? if someone is coming to your house, its your fault why are you letting him to come over and reject you. Girls parents inquiry in advance about what a guy does / age/ profession/ education and on that basis they invite his mother to come over and see their daughter. I can bet almost every girls parents must have rejected a guy or two on this ground. So its common and its both ways, so why cry? *On a serious note, Guys the first thing a girls family will notice is your car, so please buy a new car before going to a girls house or else get ready for rejection.Recommend

  • Uzair

    I am very sorry, and ashamed, to admit that a few years ago I also undertook this “drawing room rishta” ritual with my parents. As a guy the whole process is extremely embarrassing, especially when it comes to saying “no”. (and I was rejected a couple of times too).

    I am of the very firm belief now that ritual of drawing room rishta hunting is an absolute disgrace, and that arranged marriages in general are a dumb idea. I base my reasoning on the fact that marriage is an institution of love and mutual respect, the couple are going to live together til-death-do-part, so why leave the decision to others? There should already be some level of love and affection between them before they make the marriage vows. As for those who say that at such age they are “too immature” to make such a major decision, I ask (with a very angry tone): So they are not mature enough to choose their life partner, but they can fulfill all the responsibilities of married life including raising kids??!! Marriage is after all the biggest decision a person makes in their life, so if they can’t take responsibility for it, why are they getting married in the first place? And secondly, if things go bad after the marriage and it does not work, will the families who arranged it take responsibility? It will be the couple of who will endure the most grief, not those who arranged the rishta.

    I am now all for letting young people find their own life partners, sure the families can give approval. If the family raises their son or daughter properly then they would have no worries about them choosing the wrong partner.

    In any event ours is a strange society with weird notions about human sexuality, where it is perfectly ok for a 50 year old man to marry a 12 year old, but NOT ok for two young adults (say in their 20s) to fall in love and have an affair and decide to marry on their own. I guess its all about the need for men to control women, the age old tribal thinking that permeates certain parts of the world still.Recommend

  • junaid

    It is indeed saddening to see that our society still revolves around such superficialities of good looks and age to qualify the girl as marriageable material.

    But It cuts both ways and in many cases it is not much different with men. Men too have to assume a certain role in the society before the girl and her family will even consider their marriage proposal worth their while.

    Is that not injustice too, i agree that with girls it is much more difficult but it is no easy feat for men either. They too are expected to be earning good money, living in their own house, have to be associated with a well to do family, has to be driving around town in new cars and have a promising career .

    Tell me how often is that girls or their families would like to wed their daughter off to a guy who is a struggler. Is that not unfair to that guy, just because he is not making good enough money the girl’s dad would simply shun the rishta off.

    While i totally disapprove of what happened with Ms. S but lets just forget that our society is just as harsh on young and struggling men as they are on slight older and not so perfect looking women.Recommend

  • junaid

    It is indeed saddening to see that our society still revolves around such superficialities of good looks and age to qualify the girl as marriageable material.

    But It cuts both ways and in many cases it is not much different with men. Men too have to assume a certain role in the society before the girl and her family will even consider their marriage proposal worth their while.

    Is that not injustice too, i agree that with girls it is much more difficult but it is no easy feat for men either. They too are expected to be earning good money, living in their own house, have to be associated with a well to do family, has to be driving around town in new cars and have a promising career .

    Tell me how often is that girls or their families would like to wed their daughter off to a guy who is a struggler. Is that not unfair to that guy, just because he is not making good enough money the girl’s dad would simply shun the rishta off.

    While i totally disapprove of what happened with Ms. S but lets just forget that our society is just as harsh on young and struggling men as they are on slightly older and not so perfect looking women.Recommend

  • Ainee

    as a woman i totally agree to this piece. rakhshanda u have portrayed the true feelings of a woman by ur words, i too felt the same long ago. and yes i agree that men go through the same problems but its not just equal when u compare because even if a man is old, bald and dark skined he gets a wife who is a barbie doll. why? because he has a great bank balance nad stable life. so what for those girls who wish to settle for love and respect? not for money and bungalow???? Recommend

  • Sonia

    I agree that the system maintained in our society with regard to “Rishtas” in the case of girls, is absolutely pathetic. It is also every second family’s story. It’s sad how the concept of depression over matters related to a hypocritical society is becoming such a common issue in our country.
    If I were to blame someone for this system, I would be pointing fingers at almost everyone involved in the process but the one person that takes the cake is the boy’s mother. I feel the mother of the prospective groom can either make it or break it for both the families. If the mothers of the boys would understand that it’s insulting and embarrassing for a girl – as young as in her twenties (which is the perfect rishta phase) – to present herself as dressed impeccably and with the perfect “tameez and salika” over and over and over, it would all be better and easier. The worst part is when first the mother comes to check out the girl, then she brings her daughter in the next visit, then if they both decide she’s worth being graced by the presence of their son, they visit a 3rd time with their son. That makes me feel like screaming at them.
    I’m not saying there’s only bad mothers out there but for some reason the number of the kind I’ve mentioned surpasses the good ones quite drastically. You can’t even say they’re uneducated because most of them would be educated and still talk like a person stuck up with hypocritical values in case of their sons.

    Great article, Rakshinda. We should have more like these.Recommend

  • everyone

    Nicely composed and handled…hats off!Recommend

  • Ammar

    Above All, I must rephrase this as “Empty mind is full of Devils” Marrige is not everything this is a general phenomena that life is always sucsessful, however there are ups and downs in every phase of life. True sucess lies in believing and understanding how relationships work. This can only happen if you have right positive attitude & power to understand people and our true believe in God Almighty. There are people from different backgrounds & culture in our country we should try to concentrate on our goals and we have to keep our mind in productive things rather than seeking partner for marriage and sitting idle. Sometimes the reality is different from what we see, so time is the best factor to judge everything in future so don’t get disharted and believe in yourself.Recommend

  • shahzeb

    Heart breaking story….may her soul rest in peaceRecommend

  • R

    It is tragic what happened to your friend but I am glad you shared her story. I find it so insulting that women are treated like cattle. For those who argue that this is the “Islamic” way – it is not. Islam allows women and men to choose to be with those they want to be with – in fact this is encouraged. Some haven’t found that person as yet and this does not mean that we must be made to feel so pressurized and depressed. The society needs to change. Leave the girls alone. Recommend

  • Whatever

    I am 30, working in a good bank, earning 6 figures salary….I am tall, fair….(according to people i am pretty looking)….but still I am rejected…..My mistake is I work for a bank….I might be corrupt….I am tall and broad so I dont have that “Nazakat” (Nazakat comes from skinny, short heighted girls apparently)….I would want to continue work after marriage to support my family,….That is the biggest sin!! I am very straight forward and firm….so I dont really attract guys at work….I am too chirpy for my age…..
    But I am happy the way I am and what Allah has given me…..I cant fake myself!! I cant show “adayain” to people or roam around with guys to please them….so that one day they propose to me and marry me!!Recommend

  • Nony

    Our national game is getting married and making kids. By the way in most of the cases what I have seeen, a woman rejects a woman. My mother rejects somene’s daughter but does not want her own daughter to be rejected. This whole arrangement of assessing girls, accepting and rejecting is pathetic but it is going to prevail in Pak for decades to come.Recommend

  • Asia

    Good lines : There is more to life than marriage. Commitment, kindness and compassion for your own self, and for the people who matter to you, are much more meaningful than worrying non-stop about getting married.Recommend

  • Mandy

    i admire your courage to speak up and believe me ALLAH looks upon every one of His beings and i am sure he will take good care of your matters too. you don’t fake yourself is the best part of your existence
    @Nony: you are absolutely correct. a woman rejects other women for his son’s proposals while at the same time she prays that her daughter does not have to go through the same feelings of rejection. stop playing this throw ball game and come forward. accept the problem and address it!Recommend

  • afsheen.nighat

    a true picture of our societyRecommend

  • Sarooj Noor

    To all me Respective Readers,

    I am quite sadden to read her story but this is how brutally the society treats you. Its very easy to reject someone on her looks, physic, height, colour & education.

    But remember one thing, groom’s parties who had rejected many proposals only on the base of beauty & bla bla bla will suffer when finally he will get married.

    One day he will have a daughter, & he will badly suffer when his own daughter will be rejected only on the base of height….colour… or bla bla bla.

    I have also written a blog almost similar to this topic. Please read & share your respective feedback. Recommend

  • Syed Waqasullah

    This is the horrifying truth of our society, where women are treated as objects. I dont understand one thing, what we actually look for; a campanion who supports her partner or some deal to lead the coming life with monetory benefits as well as acaedemic profile that gives the husband an edge to bring more money to his house. As there is a hadith whch says, ” look for virtue” the very first thing in your partner, the reality to accept right and oppose wrong”, all other things become secondary.Recommend

  • afza siddiqui

    sympathizing and showing disgust is not going to change anything.the only way is to make sure that when we as mothers and sisters will get a chance to find the right choice for our beloved eligible bachelor sons and brothers we will not be judging and hurting girls the same way. Recommend

  • Clarus

    Nony you hit the bulls eye. in most cases the guy doesn’t even get that chance to see the girl being rejected by his mother.Recommend

  • Dr. Anon


    I went through a slightly different mind numbing process...elderly women asking me if I knew to cook..Prospective fathers in law asking my father " Kitna doge ?" .." Can she change her hairstyle and send us another photograph ?"

    I eventually escaped the rishta system by marrying a colleague and friend from my hospital.I was lucky... I'm attractive,slim, from a sophisticated family with an old name and am educated as a Doctor - inspite of all this,I too suffered....I can imagine how much,much more ,a girl who's not pretty/fair suffers in the 'rishta' seeking process. I still think about my 'rishta' days as a mind numbing , draining experience.

  • hareem

    the problem lies in the way our society works!
    a girl should be treated like a man in all aspects including rishta’s etc. equality is what matters!Recommend

  • R. Shaikh

    Spot on author! Thank you for writing this!

    Some of the comments I often hear from relatives for being single and above the age of 25,
    “Masha Allah se position holder ho, koi rishta nahi aaya?”
    “Beta office mein pasand karlo na koi larka”.
    The more concerned will bluntly say, “Join a gym, or get yourself registered with a marriage bureau.”


  • Insaan

    Looks like lot of people here are single and looking. Just email me your biodata and I can play a matchmaker. You guys can talk to each other on Skype and go from there.Recommend

  • SS

    No it isn’t the solution because you have identified the wrong problem!! The problem here is what society defines is a ‘good person’ worthy of marriage. And to be very honest, I’m happier as a Muslim woman living in Europe than in South asia or Middle east because this society (no matter how ‘incorrect’ according to Islam) allows me to live independently and it doesn’t judge my worth based on my appearance, gender or religious beliefs. Yes, you may think people hereare bold and open about their actions but I appreciate this more than the disgusting hypocrisy present in our society. I feel free to practice my religion and not have someone judge me for being shia or sunni…. I’m seen as a person with skills here…not as woman of marriageable age… feels great! Recommend

  • excalibur

    ever though how on Earth in our society and culture can a boy/girl meet each other in a neutral environment. Religion also discourages boy/girl interaction .To really know a person , the habits , the nature, the beliefs in a normal setting is impossible. Some communities have a weekly meeting place like a Jamaat Khana etc where a platform is indirectly available otherwise, it is either first cousins, near relatives , siblings ,neighbours or work colleagues.

    Imagine the situation overseas and it is a greater mess. Monitor the Rishta websites and you will know what demands are made by either side. In some case questionable girls have been palmed off into respectable families and subsequently the girl and her family have cleaned up the boy/inlaws in a systematic way Especially in Karachi where the population is so fluid that you can ascertain the bonafides of any oneRecommend

  • Amirah

    Unfortunately, This is the reality of our society,The truth of the so cold literate people,Everyday an other girl suffers from this situation and there are plenty of girls who have to go through these circumstances, God knows how long would this mindsets of our society will destroy many other girl’s lives, May Allah give those illiterate people some direction, who thinks that their sons are the best !Recommend

  • Queen

    @R. Shaikh:

    I agree with you 100% as i am facing the same issues with my relativesRecommend

  • Insaan

    Dress to impress is a way to go. Most people are attracted to others because of looks. Some time what you wear can make a whole lot of difference. Recommend

  • Solitare

    such an exquisite piece of writing. author you never fail to get my interest in your blogs. i agree with every word you have written here. its so true that our society has these embarrassing norms Recommend

  • Working Woman

    @author: “I asked her to see a psychologist but she refused. ”


  • Zuhaib Memon

    Very well written and I agree with the sorrows of your friend. As my friend too have suffered from a similar case.

    It is also the case with guys, where guys are scruitnized for not having a car, a home, a job abroad or inheriting a good fortune from his parents. The amount of gold he would give as dowry, being fat and being rejected jst few days before marriage as there was a better proposal from abroad.

    We live in a society barred by social and moral values, where we are asked to follow Islam only in case where our parents are happy. But when the time comes to make a choice, that Islam allows us, our society pressurizes us into leaving our rights in Islam. To an extent that our parents start to blackmail us, by constatnly reminding of how many troubles they went through to bring us up, the sacrifices they have made in educating us, and in return ask for a fee for all they have done for us.

    Sometimes I feel like I am a mutual fund for my parents, in which they have invested. But when the time comes for me to choose a life partner for myself, they start to withdraw favours in return by depositing sacrifice (like cheques in bank) they made for us for thier own happiness.

    I agree that we have responsibility towards our parents. However, choosing a life partner is our decission, and it can not be forced upon us.Recommend

  • brave path

    Good topic..Not a soul understands as to what the girl goes through during such times, not even her so called near and dear ones.Recommend

  • grand theft

    i have tears in my eyes bcoz im still stuck in this bad phase of life. i hate it. what is my fault that i couldn’t make anyone fall in luv wid me? i tried so many times and failed. nobody wanted to marry me and i wasted so many years of my life chasing guys i liked but they never proposed me. im now alone and happy with my parents bcoz i just pray 5 times a day and thats all to satisfy my soul. not a dumb bond called marriageRecommend

  • Sonz

    I once had a mother reject me because my father had passed away and as such I being an only child would be way too concerned about taking care of my mother! If that doesnt explain how disgusting the “rishta” system is, I dont know what else will!

    Every girl I ever met in college and university had it dinned into their heads that the ultimate achievement of their lives was to get married! I have nothing against marriage, infact its great if you find the right person to spend the rest of your life with but its not the ultimate goal! There is more to life than marriage!

    The incident quoted above was the only and the last rishta experience I ever had because I put my foot down and said NO, I will not be treated like cattle and I will not give into society’s continous pressure. If I find someone I want to marry and the feeling is mutual, fine I’ll get married and if not well then there is plenty more that I want to achieve in my life.

    I have a friend who has been going through the rishta process for the last 15 years and is still single despite fitting the perfect girl criteria. All these experiences and to top it off the continous pressure from her family have made her a nervous, insecure person who is full of complexes. Why would you do that to your daughter/sister?

    I’m so glad to see so many of the comments opposing the entire rishta system and advocating people choosing their own life partners. Any system which makes the boy or girl feel unworthy is not the right way to go about establishing a relationship specially that of husband & wifeRecommend

  • http://gujrat RAW is WAR

    oh… whateverRecommend

  • Madhia

    Ahh.. It seems to me as if i am reading my story, just that she lost hope n died and i am alive, struggling for my proposalRecommend

  • Madhia

    @grand theft: you are not alone.. i feel the exact same.. stay strong girl.. u are beautiful, make ur own lifeRecommend

  • Zuhaib Memon

    Do you know that its the psyche of mothers of both sexes, that this is normal. And its the norm of the society, they dont find it demeaning. If a girl falls in love, they would humbly ask her to leave the guy and go through this process, so she could find a better soulmate.

    One of my friends, left her bf for all this. Because of the pressure from her father, and her father knew about the guy. She was engaged to someone, and later the guy broke his engagement to her. her ex-bf appraoched again, and was told that her rishta was done-deal even before she entered the uni. Today she is married to a DSP, and in return she was brutally raped by her husband, beaten, and is still beaten on every occcasion. All this just because her father did not want her to marry non urdu speaking person.Recommend

  • Peeping Tom

    But this doesn’t mean that the process is absurd , yep there are loop holes which are needed to b mend . but what will you say for the girls who takes physical relationship as a joy of life but when the get married with the same or other man and when the life with all the odds hit them they feel they are in a middle of no mans land now .Recommend

  • Sadaf

    a lot of men in the comments are saying this happens to them too
    and they keep talking about money
    they are not wrong but it irks me when people mistake a symptom for the cause
    women are taught from the day they are born that their purpose in life is to get married. everything they do is about marriage. even those that study and get good jobs are not looked at people but as trading stock
    men are taught they need to support their families
    all people think about their future and want to be able to support themselves. men are supposed to do it by getting jobs. women are supposed to do it by getting husbands.
    when you pick a job you look at the salary, so by that logic it makes sense that women look at their future husbands salaries
    it is wrong and unfair but it exists because women are not encouraged to make something of themselves. even if they have jobs they are paid less than their male counterparts.
    if you are a man who feels you are rejected because you don’t make enough money but you would never approve of your wife working, than you are part of the problemRecommend

  • excalibur

    @ sadaf

    Not true . Women are designed by the Creator to be home makers and for bringing up the family in the best possible manner. We have altered this natural discipline and hence are paying for it now

    Also how can the attributes and virtues required in a girl be ascertained unlike for the boys where all factors are easy to determine.

    In a rishta scene it is artificially put on and orchestrated nothing is genuine. The boy/girl have no way of knowiing each other and if they do it is looked down upon as having an affairRecommend

  • Clarus


    who says women are paid less? equality exist in all multinationals. in fact women work dot 9 to 5. Men are made to work more just because they are men.

    also are you trying to justify that it is right for girls parents to reject a guy on his financial status and wrong if guys parents reject a girl because of her looks?

    no one teaches a girl that her purpose in life is to get married. humans by nature are lazy and want easy money. unlike in west where your wife has to contribute equally, in our society girls have an open opportunity to escape for this and society approves it n this opportunity is to find a rich husband. some girls succeed and some don’t. there are several girls mother who are on a rejecting spree n have rejected several guys just because they know their daughter is beautiful and they are waiting for the right ristha i.e of course a rich guy. as long as girls mothers will market their daughters like commodity their daughters will be considered like commodity n this will keep on going. Recommend

  • Prospective Groom

    As someone across the border,I can understand the feelings of S as we’re a similar society in culture.
    Let me tell you my experience.Few months ago,I went back to India on a vacation and then my parents asked me to look a good alliance.I asked them to tell the girl’s parents that I want to speak with the girl alone and they reluctantly agreed.
    As usual,I went there and treated with sweets,namkeen,coffee etc while I chatted with the girl’s parents and brother(whom I got along well ).Then I saw the girl and talked to her for 15 minutes or so.
    I’m a certified geek who could star in a “Big Bang theory” sitcom and I was always proud of it even though I wasnt popular among girls in high school or college.My entertainment includes watching documentaries,reading history books,visiting museums and browsing through forums…
    I found that the girl was never into such stuff and I didnt seem connect with her properly.So after thinking for 3 days,I said my parents not to take his further.
    What happened next was the biggest tamasha.My mother was devastated hearing it.One of my relatives came home and demanded to tell her whats wrong with the girl?? She was beautiful,from a good family,traditional and educated too.They left many good alliances waiting for me to come to India.Moreover,she literally blackmailed me saying if others know that I rejected such a good girl,nobody would be ready to give their daughters.
    I was firm in my decision.These people matter only till marriage,after that its me and her.I dont want to have a woman who doesnt understand or appreciate my lifestyle.I know some of my cousins who rejected good girls and then when they hit 30s,they were depressed as they dont get the same type of women as before.
    But I’m ready to take the risk.Rather marry a few years later and stuck with someone for life .Recommend

  • Mehdi


    Are you for real. You just insulted the women race by calling them out as a factory for child birth and rearing. sir you are part of the mindset that made Pakistan a country a failed state.Recommend

  • Syed Arsalan Ali

    @Z: Does this happens in every case..?? Please don’t be specific, we are discussing what generally happens.Recommend

  • Sana

    In a society where Nikkah becomes difficult, adultery, incest and all illicit relationships become common. Sadly, I confess, this is the scenario in Pakistan at the moment. :( Recommend