#AqalOverShakal: Why is society suffocating me?

Published: January 9, 2019
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Do I fulfil mine and my dad’s wishes or live up to society’s criteria? PHOTO: VECTOR STOCK

I was told to walk straight, shoulders back and, in short, not like a man. I often talk with a natural deep voice and receive raised eyebrows in return. I have 80% male friends with whom I can just be myself and say “Aur jani, chai scene on?”. At least they create less drama in my life. I know how the clutch and gear works in a car and I am pretty quick at learning all the technical stuff (call me when your car gets too hot to handle).

I am against the idea of sitting in front of aunties who expect me to be nicely dressed and well mannered, just perfect for their nikhattu boys who I will be expected to fix for the rest of my life. I am against the idea of only the daughter-in-law/wife cooking and not the husband/son,

Beta larkiyon ki chutti nai hoti, unki double job hojati hai shadi ke baad.”

(Girls don’t get holidays. After getting married, they have to work double jobs.)

I aim to pursue my career because I wish to gift a Mercedes to my father one day. I am expected to be nazuk (fragile), but I have to pick up that gallon-bottle and place it on the water dispenser because I don’t want my dad to do it since he is getting old.

Why is the society choking me? Do I fulfil my dad’s wishes or live up to the society’s criteria?

A father spends all of his life trying to give the best education to his children, specifically daughters. But sadly, her weight and complexion carry more importance than her intellect.

He overlooks his own wants and puts all his effort in trying to make her stand on her feet and never be dependent on anyone. However, she still finds herself sitting in front of those aunties and facing questions like, “beta cooking me perfect ho?” (are you perfect at cooking) only to be rejected after a long session because “larki thori si moti hai” (the girl is a bit overweight).

What the hell, bruh! Why don’t you tell your skinny son to eat a bit?!

Sorry aunties, I am not perfect at cooking. I was too busy getting a good cumulative grade point average (CGPA).

But the struggle isn’t just for chubby cuties. Our slim sweeties aren’t overlooked either! In this society, you can’t be chubby or slim.

Larki bohat dubli nai hai?”

(Isn’t the girl too thin?)

Kitni dieting karogi?”

(How much will you diet?)

Beta kuch khao piu, agey tou aurat ki zindagi me itne masley ayenge.”

(You should eat something otherwise you will face a lot of problems in your future life)

And you can only think of saying:

Masley? Aap se bi barey?”

(Problems? Bigger than you?)

Why can’t we just live and let live? Whatever happened to #AqalOverShakal?

This body-shaming attitude is not only found in mothers or aunties, but also in our men. When a man looks for a girlfriend, he is only concerned about physical features. That’s it. Period.

This is the only criteria he has when looking for a girlfriend. She should be hot enough to show off. But when their girlfriends aren’t around, they rant that people should go for smart girls and not dumb ones. Apparently girls are always dumb in front of men’s eyes and ego.

When they are looking for a wife, the criteria expands a little. Looks are still a priority of course; they want a slim and gori chitti (very fair) girl. Other than that, she should be shareef zaadi (respectable), educated, religious, well-mannered, presentable, not too short, not too tall, and so on.

The list of demands does not stop here. There are many more requests that the guy has when finding his ‘soulmate’.

Item 1: “Tum parhna chahti ho parh lena, bas job nai kerna. Main hun na kamaane ke liye.”

(You can study if you want to but just don’t work. I am here to work and earn a living for us.)

Me: “Okay?”

Item 2: “I just want a pretty girl. Inter pass/A levels graduate is fine for me.”

Item 3: “Parh lena shadi ke baad, job bi karlena. Par meri ami or ghar ka khayal tumhe hi karna hai. Unki koi beti nai hai na.

(You can study and work if you want. But you will have to also take care of my house and my mother since she doesn’t have a daughter.)

Me: “Aur meri degree ka achar bana du ya tikka boti?” (And should I make of my degree?)

Tou mere maa baap ki khidmat karna apka farz hua, right?”

(Then taking care of my parents should also be your responsibility, right?)

Item 3: “Ami shareef larki ho bas. Ghar ko, apko or mujhe sambhaal le.”

(Mom, the girl should just be respectful. She should be able to take care of the house, you and me.)

Me: “You need a nanny, maybe?”

I am not saying it’s wrong to wish for something in your partner. It’s okay if you want a pretty wife who is smart and educated, but why throw away her degree and intellect in the dishes? Shouldn’t she be the one to decide if she wants to be a housewife or a working woman?  If you really can’t tolerate a working woman, then why do you even bother looking for a wife with a MBBS, BBA degree? What is this absurdity?

I am suffocating already.

*screams with a pillow in the face*

Asra Siddiq Sulemany

Asra Siddiq Sulemany

The author is a certified Fashion Stylist, currently studying Psychology from Institute of Professional Psychology, BUKC. She blogs at asrasulemany.wordpress.com/

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

  • Alam

    Wow! I am already suffocating after reading this, must be horrible to live through. more power to you girl!Recommend

  • AJ

    Yes, we have an obsession for perfect gol roti and want our to-be-bahus to be fully equipped with all the culinary skills. However it does not mean that an educated working person (man or a woman) should not learn how to cook or take care of the house. Cooking is a skill which in my view point helps a person his/her whole life (probably thrice time every day). I have seen the trend where people think that since we are educated/working so we don’t need to learn cooking or mange the house etc. Being a woman (with a university degree),I would definitely encourage my child (daughter or son) to learn cooking, driving, plumbing, cleaning, technical work, in short be jack (or jill) of all trades so they don’t have to depend on people for their food or when their car breaks down.Recommend

  • omaranis

    now turn this around and apply these conditions on boys, would they like it?Recommend

  • Fahim

    Different types of women have their own requirements and different types of men have their own requirements. Best is that you don’t change others and make best decision for yourself. There are plenty of man looking for strong women and hope you will find one soon.Recommend

  • Maktub !!

    when you are looking for a male partner, what do you look in them?Recommend

  • Fahim

    Yes it true for men as well but in other terms
    1. Education/marks
    2. Job/jobless
    3. Car and pay size
    4. House
    5. Rank
    6. Child after marriage
    7. Maa baap ka sahara
    8. At the end he need a beautiful wifeRecommend

  • Huzaifa

    Sadly, this is just how our society is, can’t change the way how the society behaves, so we should just try to ignore the society as much as we can and hang out with like minded people and get busy with our lives and enjoy every bit of it.Recommend

  • Waqas

    Really appreciate your thoughts :)Recommend

  • Priya

    Global problem! lol….felt like I was reading an Indian blog….nothing has changed after so many years! We may reach even Uranus or Pluto, yet mindsets will not change!Recommend

  • Sunny

    One wants to buy a Mercedes for Father,
    other wants a wife that take care of Mother in old age.

    Marriage is possible when both agree to support each other in achieving their respective goals.Recommend

  • gp65

    “It’s okay if you want a pretty wife who is smart and educated, but why throw away her degree and intellect in the dishes? Shouldn’t she be the one to decide if she wants to be a housewife or a working woman?”

    Assuming you are a career woman, would you be okay giving the same choice to your spouse – to be a home maker or have a job? Probably not – you probably want him to earn. It is quite ok if some people want a working woman and if it is quite ok if some want a home maker. As long as they are upfront about their expectation and do not bait and switch it is fine.
    Neither should a man marry a home maker but then compare standard of living of friends with working wife and complain that his wife does not earn anything, nor should a man marry a career woman and then expect the same level of dekh-bhaal as a friend/brother’s home maker wife. With each choice come some benefits and some drawbacks. Better to have clarity about the life you want and choose accordingly.Recommend