Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

Published: July 9, 2010

I went to my relatives’ place a couple of days back on my way home from university. The moment I entered the house I was dragged aside by my uncle and was told to quietly tip toe through the house and avoid looking into the drawing room. Curious as I was, I still peeked in and to my surprise there were just a bunch of aunties and uncles sitting together and talking. I had no clue what all the hush was about. As I went inside the bedroom, my aunt came rushing towards me, “Don’t you dare go out! They are here to see your cousin. If you go out, they might like you and reject her.”

Of all the things that could have happened, this was the reason why I was told to crawl through the house like a worm.

Stranger things have happened in my family before but this was something I had not expected. The one hour I was made to sit in the room, while people came in time and time again to give me updates about how handsome the guy was or how he and my cousin were talking since the last 20 minutes, got me thinking that if I did go out would it really change the fate of my cousin for the worse? Is it because of her looks only that these people had come to see her? I knew her to have far greater qualities than that and had half a mind to go and tell those people about them, only to notice the glare from my aunt and sat back down again.

It’s not just my family, but rather the perception of the whole community these days. People have made themselves believe that if they sit up straight, have a size zero figure or learn how to cook the best dishes in town, they can ‘grab’ the seemingly perfect male for themselves. They seem to have forgotten what really binds relationships together: compatibility. I am not wise enough to lecture on marital issues, but old enough to understand the problems one can face if they don’t love the person they marry. Beauty or fine dressing sense doesn’t define a person neither is it the criteria for marriage.

Recently another friend of mine had gotten engaged to a guy from the UK. The whole family couldn’t stop mentioning this fact to every other person and the never seen relatives suddenly started turning up at their house with their daughters behind them. In all this hustle and bustle nobody remembered to ask about the guy’s family or his past. Six months after the engagement, he ran away with his gori girlfriend. The engagement broke and the girl’s parents shouted about how their respect was lost in the biradri. Need I say here that if some inquiry would was done, this could have been prevented? We fail to see the bigger picture in life and things that are more important and run after those which seem good for our image temporarily.

It is a sad fact that despite all the modernisation we have gone through and how literate we have become, we are still unable to move away from the idea of materialism and the importance of social image which is deeply rooted in our minds. It is not necessary that the figure you see in the mirror reflects the reality behind it.

Nafeesa Johar

Nafeesa Johar

A student of social sciences and economics at SZABIST. She frequently blogs at [email protected] and her favourite thing in the world is her book shelf.

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

  • waqar ahmed

    we in pakistan,including the well educated,urban,liberal elite are by & large highly superficial & shallow.

    If the girl is young & pretty,then the guy says ok,no matter how horrible a person she might be; If the guy has a stable,high paying job,then all else is forgotten,it’s only the big bucks he brings in that matters,no matter he maybe an arrogant,misogynistic & selfish guy,neither the girl nor her family will let such considerations get in the way.

    We are obsessed with age,the younger the better,but reality descends afterwards & ppl blame everyone but themselves & their shallowness.Recommend

  • http://sadaf-fayyaz.blogspot.com/ SadafFayyaz

    Marriage is a business these days….no emotions or care,,,,People asking straight “how much do u earn?” etc….Dont even look at how horrible their sons are…Treat gals like cakes….dressed with fine and rich topping,,, and flavors…… sorry….truth is bitter……I remember a a family who came over to our place again and again… in 2004… Upon knowing that our house was “rented”, they rejected…. now that boy got married to an American Nationality holder girl…all sucks…Recommend

  • hassaan

    Nafeesa awesome this is the truth, this happens in our society, atleast u mentioned beauty and money, but there are people who just have a look that if there son or daughter got married to that guy or gal, will they live a life of happineess ease and pleasure, a simple ex u no about her, i went to her mamun’s nikkah, marriage, and valima that is where her parents saw me properly for the first time. Before that they didn’t take our relationship seriously (flirt) and after that when she mentioned her parents about me these were her fathers wordings ” You have seen him, his looks, the car he drives, the way he talks walks, he belongs to a very high class family. Do you really think his parents would come to our standard and ask for your hand?”. Yaar this is peoples approach towards a guy who has a strong background, now they have taken her to USA she has got a green card trying to make her US national which I m against and soon when she becomes 1 day will get her married too some gorra guy u ill c dis will happen if she doesnt comes bak i can bet on it Recommend

  • Maria Dawson

    The problem with the majority is that it is not the ‘quality’ but the ‘quantity’ that seems to matter to them. And well, excessive beauty and money aren’t the only two things, of course there are more, but the majority views life as an episode of – who wants to be a millionaire. Each year, millions of rishtas are made with special attention directed towards the amount of property a certain family holds, the fame a particular family enjoys in the society, or perhaps the lure of living in a foreign country. What people need to be educated about is the fact that life is not something that gets easier once it is served on the silver platter but difficult. It is, as you put it Nafeesa, compatibility that makes it easier!

    Cheers on the wonderful article. Good Stuff! :) Recommend

  • Aziz Hirani

    very well said Nafeesa. I think we as a society are extremely materialistic. i mean we are someone who love to ask people “bhai biryani kab khila raha hai?” Many people dont even feel like marrying, let alone marrying the right person.Recommend

  • http://www.milk-n-cookies.blogspot.com Cookie

    Hey, good one.Nailed the issue. Compatibility is what we should be looking for…Recommend

  • Vinay Rajani

    wonderfully worded Nafeesa, people have betrayed that they no longer believe in old saying that marriages are made in heaven rather they have put forward one more unanswered question, “are marriages really made in Heaven?.” I believe that we live in the society of insecure people where we live our lives on the pleasure of others.Recommend