She’s my girl ‘friend’ not my ‘girlfriend’

Published: October 29, 2011

Life is not a Bollywood movie where a man and a woman who spend enough time together will inevitably, inescapably, unequivocally fall in love with each other.

I have a friend who happens to be a girl, but isn’t my girlfriend. No, the ‘scene’ is not ‘on’. Don’t give me that mischievous smile and stop calling her ‘bhabhi’. If you attempt to high-five me, I will leave you hanging. 

Life is not a Bollywood movie where a man and a woman who spend enough time together will inevitably, inescapably, unequivocally fall in love with each other and enunciate their mutual affection to the world through a hilariously choreographed musical number. A platonic relationship between two individuals of opposite gender can, and does, exist.

It’s not uncommon for a college boy to engage a college girl in 90 seconds of casual conversation without setting the rumor mill to overdrive. Their audacity in exchanging brief smiles, which are but a hallmark of a polite conversation, has caused a small group of bystanders to swiftly assemble a committee for deciding the names of the couples’ children.

As the boy walks back to his group of male buddies, he is greeted with a chorus of ‘uth oye!‘ and receives multiple pats on his back. He instantaneously becomes a player. The discombobulated young man tries to explain how he had merely returned the pen he had borrowed from the girl back in the classroom, but the celebration carries on unsubdued.

The situation is worst for the other half of this ‘couple’.  The news of this alleged encounter goes viral among the girls, many of whom whisper words of condemnation for the actions of this…(ahem)…open-minded girl. Wasn’t it just three days ago that she had chuckled at a college joke told to her by a male? And a day before that when she had ‘seduced’ yet another male into briefly lending her his lecture notes?

Are we done experimenting with segregation of the sexes yet? Because it does not appear to have generated very promising results. We have spawned a generation of young men and women for whom the opposite gender, the other half of humanity, may as well be an alien race. And we attempt to deal with this stark disconnect by constructing bizarre and wildly offensive stereotypes.

What, pray tell , is this strange being called ‘woman’ that you speak of? One who lives on the other side of this impassable mountain range of our societal structure? I’ve heard they’re great at cooking and cleaning, love the colour pink, and that every single woman is biologically compelled to be attracted to every single man. So that if a male and a female ever meet, sparks will ineluctably fly.

I might be exaggerating, but not by much. There’s an unmistakable air of immaturity among Pakistani youngsters concerning members of the opposite sex. And this ignorance can only be dispelled through open interaction.

We’re not just walking bags of testosterone and oestrogen. We’re colleagues in our universities, partners in business, co-workers in our offices, and allies in our daily battles against the dilemmas mankind faces. It is time we let go of our puerile notions and learn to get along with each other.

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (

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