Stories about marriage

From the ‘Eidul Filter’ photo to the ‘#WokeUpLikeThis’ selfie, now you can nail the perfect rishta picture

If there’s one thing Pakistan is passionate about aside from chai, the Panama leaks and commenting on someone’s weight, it is rishtas. The rishta aunty is probably Pakistan’s third most popular profession – after doctors and engineers, of course – who are incidentally prime candidates for the rishta hunter. So if you’re looking for a rishta, please read the extremely serious plan below which clearly highlights how your life will transition from behuda (indecent) to shaadi shuda (married). The Eidul Filter photo: Eid is a great time to bond with family, collect eidi, and appreciate the joy brought on by sheer korma, right? Wrong. If ...

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How a newly hired employee is no different than a newly married bride

This isn’t one of those blogs about the social nuisance that weddings are, nor will it mention dowry, brides, grooms or even their families. Whether we like it or not, all of us have come across Star Plus soap operas. Never-ending dramas based around new brides, their unbearable miseries and the constant struggle to settle into their new family are constant themes in such soap operas. Instead, this blog is about how the Star Plus’ daughter-in-law resembles a newly hired employee at any organisation. Nearly a month ago, a friend of mine was extremely frustrated because she was transferred to a different department in her organisation. Her new team ...

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Rasm over rights: Why is the nikkahnama woven with inequality towards women?

Shaadi (marriage) is perhaps the most cherished tradition in Pakistani culture, a gathering of levity and simultaneous importance and an event which many deem to be the most significant in their lives. For women in Pakistan, the latter is often the case since marriage bounds them to a contract that is deliberately created to disadvantage them. The institution of marriage has been weaponised by the male-dominated religious lobby in Pakistan to systematically disenfranchise women into a life that is decided by their significant other. The most integral part of this system is the nikkahnama (marriage certificate). For many married couples, the nikkahnama is at best an afterthought in the marriage festivities, ...

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If Jinnah never asked Ruttie to change her name to Maryam, why did you, Pakistan?

Those of us who were born before Partition know that Muhammad Ali Jinnah could not speak Urdu, except perhaps a few broken sentences. His speeches were always in English, sometimes with a translator to make the crowds understand what he was saying. But sometime in the 1980s, the government dubbed all his speeches in Urdu, apparently under pressure from those who thought a highly westernised Jinnah would make today’s youth doubt that he wanted an Islamic state. One result of this is that an entire generation of Pakistanis have grown up believing that Jinnah was fluent in Urdu, and always dressed ...

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Why the ‘C’ word scares the hell out of people

Does the word ‘commitment’ freak you out? Perhaps it conjures up images of lifetime imprisonment without the option of parole. Maybe it sounds like a rabbit in a trap, enslaved to a woman with her fancies and whims forever, or maybe it sounds like a deer caught in the headlights of a car? Obviously, you are scared of the ‘C’ word or possess an irrational fear for it. In short, you are commitment-phobic. What is commitment-phobia? Coined in 1987 in the renowned self-help book ‘Men Who Can’t Love‘, commitment-phobia is a flash of fright that restrains a person from progressing to the next step of a relationship ...

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Of Halala marriages and the sexual exploitation of Muslim women

According to a BBC undercover investigation, some Muslim women in South Asian diasporic communities in England are facing exploitation, blackmail and sexual abuse via various online accounts. These accounts provide services for divorced women to fulfil the requirement of a so-called Halala marriage, in order to remarry their former spouse after they have been divorced through the ‘triple talaq’ process. Triple talaq takes place when a man says ‘talaq’ (divorce) three times in a row to his wife, convincing many Muslims that this ends an Islamic marriage immediately. These online services let women pay to marry strangers, consummate the marriage with them and then divorce them, after which they are ...

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I was afraid of them

It was during one of my unplanned trips to Kanyakumari that I met Uma Maheshwar. I had boarded the almost empty train at Thiruvananthapuram. I was alone in one of the compartments, dozing. A few women passed through the alleyway wearing thick makeup and pungent perfume, which disturbed my nap. Another woman followed. She stopped and turned towards me. I looked up confused. To my surprise, it was neither she nor he. She begged, clapping, “Give something saar”. The clap they have patented. We consider them incomplete without that clap. I will be honest here. I abhorred them. “Saar, something”. She repeated in Tamil mixed with Malayalam. “Go ...

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The child marriage legislation is a step in the right direction, but will it be implemented?

Marriages are big business in Pakistan. It is a time of hope, happiness, faith and love. Such a memorable event can easily turn sour when the parties getting married are underage. To curb this heinous act, legislation has been passed by the National Assembly, aimed to reduce child marriages by ramping up the severity of the punishment.  Instead of being imprisoned for up to three years, individuals involved in arranging child marriages face a 10-year imprisonment with a one million rupees fine. This new change in the law seems to be a serious effort on part of the government to tackle this insidious practice. Although on ...

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Why marriage is not for everyone

There are more routes to happiness than those identified by the social majority. It is time we acknowledge that not all of these routes transit through the terminal of marriage. Any discussion on whether a certain custom is right for you, must begin with an honest recognition of your primary goal. The goal is your happiness and prosperity, and nothing that any parent, uncle, aunty, friend has to say about it has any agency over your own awareness of what brings you contentment. Their counsel may be wise and worthy, but they have the disadvantage of not knowing you the way you might ...

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Why are husbands generally so unromantic?

He comes from the office, and has not brought flowers or any small gift for her. She smiles quite genuinely and gets a half-hearted and fake smile in return. Once he is settled, instead of spending time with his wife, he sits in front of the TV and starts switching channels. He seems so engrossed in the TV that his wife has to call him several times to even evoke a mundane response like “hmmm”. After managing to evoke a response, she tries to stir up a conversation and fails. She asks a question she has asked a million times ...

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