Rishta-Window Shopping

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On a usual Sunday afternoon, one would most likely find me mindlessly going through my course books and lamenting the whole academic system. But not today. Today I was to make myself useful in the kitchen for some people a.k.a rishta hunters were coming to see my aunt. Now normally I’d have ignored the whole dance because of the utter mindlessness of it but since my aunt, as any other woman, gets extremely nervous and can not think straight in such circumstances I was handed the kitchen duties. And I wasn’t going to hold it against my aunt for almost retching because duh, old aunties judging your character and competence by the samosas and chaye you make isn’t an enthralling prospect.

All this running around before the rishta window-shopping commenced reminded me of how artfully Shazaf Fatima describes the perils of the prospective daughter in-laws and their families in her book, How It Happened. I genuinely felt like Saleha while going through the eateries which Abu had bought for the occasion, hoping aloud that the number of rishta hunters is low. After making chaye, which would either be the best or the worst (no in between, mind you), I hurled my aunt into my air conditioned room because she was definitely going to burst with anxiety. And my mother was near hyperventilating.

Haha, trust me, this isn’t any publicizing post but the only reason my mood remained fine was because I kept remembering how similar our situation was to families described in HTH. How Zeba used to deliberately mess up any proposals in defiance or when that super moti Sunni auntie wanted to ask for Zeba’s hand for her super thin son before realizing that Zeba is a Shia. Or the super annoying Daadi who wanted 16-year old for Hasan because ‘young girls are docile and easily molded.’ The sheer stupidity of these women, with their legs hanging in their graves, appalls me.

Abu: Dekho sirf 4 cup mein chaye daalna!
Me: YES! Iska matlab zayada khaane ki cheeze bachain gi!
*Abu walks away laughing*

*Abu comes running in the kitchen*
Abu: Extra chaye hai?!
Me: Nahe kyun kya hua?
Abu: Ik sahiba diabetic hein!
Me: Uff, ab unsay kahain wahee pe lein. Phelay kyun nahe bataya unhoun nay? Main nahe bana rahee aur!

Later when the rishta-hunters had left, delightfully approving of my aunt, to my family’s elation, Amee came in my room.

Amee: Tum kyun nahe ayi? Wo tumhay bhi bula rahee thi.
Me: Mom pls, don’t even think about it.

While I’m not completely against arranged marriages, I’m against the idea of what hassle and discomfort it brings to the girl’s family who would literally slit their wrists for even the faintest of approvals from the boy’s side. This isn’t exaggeration and it brings innumerable amount of toxicity with it. I know my parents won’t go through all of this when my or my sister’s time comes because we’ve been taught from the start to always, always remain independent and God forbid if we girls ever allow someone to judge our character by the way we dress or cook. This is a meager evidence of the changing times. However it still unease’s me to see anyone else going through such undeserved perils just because of the society’s fazool
mentality.

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