Pakistani life is all about numbers!
This is what I mean!
If it’s a girl then the countdown to marriage begins on an old classic watch burried in a safe whose code is probably a variant of the numbers 786 and consists of a 30 year old wedding heirloom that belongs to her mother waiting to be passed on to her at age 19. No wait, 19 is too young, 25 is too old, but 21 is just perfect for the 37 year old potential ‘rishta’ who had completed matric even before she was born. Because that specific age of ‘beta matric kub kiya’ is so important for a Pakistani rishta that his entire merit thereafter depends on it.
That family heirloom will be added to the 31 dresses, 13 pairs of shoes, 7 bags, 6 gold bracelets, 3 jewelry sets and 1 huge nose ring that she has to wear for 8 hours straight as a bride at a banquet hall that costs more than her entire life’s food and lodging in front of 200 guests-if she’s lucky! Otherwise it’s double the people, triple the food and quadruple the bottles of Pakola at the event.
After that it’s all about ‘when’! When no. 1 arrives, it becomes about no.2 then no.3. God forbid if she is working it’s about how much, how soon and how did you even dare! If she is a home-maker it’s all about too high, too low, too much YOU and not enough US!
If it’s a boy then his dreams are already mapped out by the ones his parents couldn’t achieve in their lives. It’s about avenging that 1 opportunity his father missed and making up for his mother’s lost time. It’s about grinding away in a 4 to 5 year professional degree and scoring a good enough GPA to make it in the world.
It’s hardly about the late hours, it’s always about the 9 to 5. It’s never about the loneliness at 16, instead it’s about the numbers rolling in at 26. The 7 cigarettes in his room will go unnoticed but an allowance that is 7 days late will not be tolerated. Then before you know it it’s time to visit those 18 homes at 5 o clock every.single.day. Is she taller than 5 feet? Does she shine like the sun and glow like the moon? Is she too much feet, too much nose, too much teeth, or just not enough? But gobbling and gulping samosas with tea with 1 teaspoon of sugar and half the decency is a step that’s not to be missed.
Then they find the one! The 6th of July is their save-the-date because it doesn’t matter if it’s the hottest day of the year. At least his 2 brothers, 5 nieces and nephews, 3 distant uncles from abroad and the driver from his village will be able to attend his big day! The pressure is on. 30 chapters of the Quran are recited for good luck and blessings during the day and 300 songs are deejayed on a playlist for his bachelor party by night. He finally ties the knot! NOW it’s about the late hours. NOW it’s about the 5 missed calls and the 4-digit password on his phone. NOW it’s all about the ‘Y’ in the ‘XY’ of his 23rd pair of chromosomes.
About the Author: Maida Affan is a Doctor by profession. She believes in telling stories, her own as well as other’s to inspire and aspire. She is the Founder and Admin of a health and parenting awareness Facebook page called Dr. Mama where she runs various awareness drives.