The Shaadi Manifesto

Since everyone’s coming up with their own manifesto for whatever reason they believe in, I’ve decided to put forth my own because I am, much to my disappointment and irritation, surrounded by rishta zombies. Now let’s clear one thing before I even start: It’s not just the aunties. I see tweets on Twitter and status updates on Facebook bashing elderly ladies and claiming that they’re the sole reason why our society is obsessed with marriage and other gimmicks but guess what? No, they’re not. It is very convenient to throw the blame on one single group for the intrusive madness found in our culture. It’s not just these elderly folks or even slightly young ones; it is also men who assert the flawed notion that a chaste, successful woman is the one who ties the knot early without having her hymen touched. It is also people – even “liberal feminists” and “progressive thinkers” who forget, during their bouts of rage on social networks, that they indirectly define parameters and rules for other women as well when they yell, “I don’t get why she married so early!” when it just could be, if you consider the possibility, that said woman did so because of her own choice and priorities.

Which brings us to the first point in my manifesto replete with crayons and doodles:

Choice.

Holy shit. Choice. Listen to the word. Ch-oi-ce. God, that sounds so good. Choice. Ch-ch-ch-choice, baby. Prerogative, consciously thinking a step through in order to commit it, the idea to decide for yourself. Possibly one of the best words in the whole damn universe. Ironically enough, it is the least respected one by both spectrums of political, social and religious debates. So let’s set one thing straight: It is a person’s choice to marry or not and this decision is theirs alone. Now that we’ve established this basic truth, allow me to dispel several things our society makes us believe in:

i) “Larki ki shaadi x umer mai ho jani chahiye.” Translation: “A girl should get married when she is x-years-old.”

Stop setting an age limit for tying the knot. I’ve known several people to instantly throw in the biological reasons for marrying at so-and-so age because “it gets tough to have babies later on.” Let’s consider another real possibility: Maybe she doesn’t want to have children. That is completely fine. Stop forcing women to view themselves as reproductive machines in crisp aprons and nothing else. Some women don’t want to be mothers. Some women don’t want to have sex at all; They don’t want to touch your horny plans with a pole for the rest of their lives. That does not make them cold-blooded, baby-chewing demons from the deepest pits of hell. It makes them humans with their own ideas of living life. Stop punishing them for that.

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ii) “Jab shaadi hoti hai to sirf dulhan/dulha se nahi hojati; uske pooray khandaan se aik qism ki shaadi ho jati hai.” Translation: “When a wedding takes place, it’s not just the bride or groom you’re marrying; it’s like you’ve married the in-laws in a way too.”

How about no? While mutual respect and consideration for the legitimate needs of the family is fine, we need to stop conflating respect with blind subservience. Respecting a human does not mean fearing a human. Respect does not mean breaking your spine to please your mother-in-law or your husband’s second cousin’s uncle’s sister. Respect does not mean forgetting your own legitimate needs for the petty objection raised by the family you’ve become part of. Stop feeding young women and girls of our society this recipe of eternal subjugation. You’re raising slaves.

iii) “Larki ki rangat gori, kamar patli aur qadd acha hona chahiye warna larka nahi milay ga.” Translation: “The girl’s complexion should be fair, her waist slender and her height tall or else she won’t land a spouse.”

Get the hell out of here. This is exactly where hypocrites step in and do the salsa with these “imperfect” girls. This obsession with white skin, waif thin bodies, aquiline noses, delicate features is not a recent development; it is steeped in a history where a colonized people are forced to think that there is something fundamentally wrong with their physical characteristics. This goes on for decades and then, down the lane, we are ‘freed’ to run our own country where our society can ‘flourish’ but that never actually happens. We allow industries to capitalize on our inferiority complex. Case in point: Fair ‘n’ Lovely, Stillman, Garnier and the list goes on. I still remember one commercial where a naturally fair-skinned actress encourages women to buy Garnier’s skin lightening cream to look “prettier.” If there is a way to punch TV without breaking the set, email me here.

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“Shit.”

This bullying of dark skinned women is found in classrooms, at tea parties, during subtle rishta-hunts at weddings, everywhere. Several girls in elementary school in Virginia called me and my mother “ugly” because we weren’t white, we were Asians and that incident can be classified under pure racism. But what do you call it when people of your own ethnicity, of your own race decide to cast you out because you’re not white enough or your eyes aren’t blue enough or you don’t look Nordic enough to land a husband? It’s called: Misfortune and internalized racism. So from now on, if you see someone making fun of a girl or a boy by calling them “kaala”, “choora” (way to go, bigots) or anything similar to that, you best break everything they love with a handy dandy crowbar.

A woman is a woman and she doesn’t need to be ‘gorgeous’ according to definitions by society. She can be thin, fat, dark, fair, big, small, hairy, shaved, single, married, button-nosed, thin-nosed, lanky, chunky, virgin, non-virgin, anything and no one is allowed to make her feel inferior. Parents, if you’re doing this, quit it. Teachers, if you haven’t talked about this to your students, do it. Sisters, if your sibling is found hating themselves in the mirror, snap them out of it. Brothers, if your sister is made to feel ugly because she doesn’t fit the typical image of a “beautiful” woman, love her and tell her she’s perfect the way she is. Fathers, make your girls feel at home, at ease, respect them. Mothers, my God, don’t ever buy colors that “complement” a girl’s complexion; let her wear the color she likes, quit buying creams that “enhance” her pigmentation.

iv) “Jiski shaadi na ho, uska janaza nahi parhaya jata.” Translation: “The janaza of an unmarried Muslim isn’t carried out.”

I really don’t enjoy bringing religion into cultural debates but since our country has mixed the two to dangerous levels, let’s clear one thing for the last time: Matrimony is not farz, it is a sunnah. A sunnah is not mandatory, it is only highly encouraged. But in the case of not committing it, no one will drag you to
hell as long as you conform to your religion’s prescribed idea of not performing gunaah. That is all. Quit quoting zaeef (weak) ahadith and scaring the lights out of people. There are unmarried Muslims out there doing a whole good to the society and I’m sure I’ll be saying their janaza when their time comes. If you choose not to pray for someone simply because they didn’t marry, you’re an idiot. For Non-Muslims: The fourth point doesn’t apply to you.

Now that we’ve tackled some nonsense we’re told to believe in, let’s come to the solution part of my manifesto.

Say No to Rishta-Window Shopping:

You are a human with feelings. You are not a commodity on the shelf of a super store. You do not have a price tag hanging from your left butt cheek. You are a person who deserves respect, consideration and space. And if someone deliberately violates any one of those rights, you have the right to call them out on their insensitivity. If I were you, I’d make sure I gave crass rishta people a memorable time. Say, surprise them:

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Say Yes to Your Comfort

Uncomfortable with the idea of getting married to the guy you don’t even know? Have you tried talking to him and still felt that the communication wasn’t exactly the best one? Does he seem unfit for commitment with you? Does he exude the shining potential to be a complete jackass? Then say it out loud. Don’t hide it. Some people are completely okay with the idea of an arranged marriage/marrying early/marrying late and some aren’t. That’s their choice. No one should be able to define what a perfect marriage is for you. Find out for yourself. Marry when you’re ready or don’t marry at all. Stand your ground. Like this:

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Sorry. Wait. Like this:

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Prioritize:

My priority: I am only marrying when I’ve established a career for myself. Women in our society are whisked off when they’re not essentially ready in any way. I speak for the majority, before several of you decide to criticize me for my “generalizing.” The idea of becoming dependent on a male for financial assistance and a respectable social position is something that needs to stop. This argument can be challenged rightfully by the scenario in lower classes where marriages of convenience take place – something that will be discussed in another post. That said, the pinnacle of a woman’s life should not be getting married, in my opinion. There’s a thing called empowerment and it’s not emphasized enough because here’s what happens: Employment and education provide women with power and equality if done right. Something that our culture and society doesn’t exactly enjoy entertaining the thought of. Invest in your education, invest in your career, invest in your own priorities before marrying. I am not denouncing the institution of marriage at all. I am simply asking people to let women think and decide for themselves. For some women, settling down is the most important plan on their list and that’s fine as long as she is not at the mercy of her spouse. To make that possible, she should be aware of her rights as a human being. If you’re close to someone who doesn’t exactly know what her rights are, tell her. And remember: Don’t force liberation or your idea of “empowerment” on her. It’s her choice at the end of the day.

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Knock It Off With the “Larki Ka Ghar Uska Susraal Hota Hai”/”A Girl’s Real Home is With Her In-Laws”:

Fuck no. My home is where I was raised, it’s where my mother made breakfast for me and my siblings, it’s where my mineral face wash is. Don’t tell me some prospective house in another city or country is my “real” home. This mentality is such a destructive one, people don’t realize. The first time I saw this in action was when I was on a visit to my grandma’s and this commercial appeared. Here’s an image of it:

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“Sweetheart, I just wanted to tell you: This isn’t exactly your home. You need to get out right now. There, there. Don’t cry. I’m sending you off with some pretty dowry.”

“Meri nanhi parri naye ghar ko challi.” Really now. Where was she before? A boarding house? Oh, she was with her parents? That’s a strange place to be for a girl, right? The idea of telling a young girl that her parents’ house is not her home, is wrong for one reason: You’re feeding her mind with the idea that she is displaced and a burden on the family during her “stay.” When she gets married and lives with her spouse, society tells her then: “Your real home is your maika (parents’ house).” Thank you for confusing a woman with the idea that neither her mother and father’s abode is hers nor is her husband’s house. That she is a misfit in both places. What’s even worse is how many households never inform their sons that their “real” home is elsewhere; they’re already home. If you see someone telling a girl something so flawed, call them out on it right then and there. Marriage should not be the reason for a girl to validate her presence in any area. Why should anyone tell a girl her real home is B, not A when A is basically where she was raised?

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Divorce is NOT the End of the World:

Really. It’s not. A social orgy happens when a woman gets divorced. There is something inherently sickening about a society that experiences collective shock, horror and insatiable curiosity when a marriage is called off. The second thing that happens is how the majority speculates that there had to be something wrong with the girl’s character, past, appearance, family, bra, anything for the failed marriage. Very few people even consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe the husband was a jerk to nth level and so it would’ve been stupid to spend a lifetime with him. In this way, we make life impossible for women. Something we do not have the right to do. Stop hyping something so commonly-occuring. If someone tells you they’re divorced, don’t do this:

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Do this:

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Okay, sorry. Don’t tell them seagulls are fascinating (which they actually are). Just don’t offer pity. It’s insulting.

Be Vocal

You have every right to voice your concerns, needs, wants, dreams, goals to your parents and guardians and if need be, the society we live in. If you’re not ready for such a big change in your life, it’s okay. Tell your parents, tell your partner, tell your friends. Let them know. Getting badgered by the whole town is really annoying, I know. But what you can do is speak up. It takes guts and I’m sure you have them. If someone uses the what-will-people-say card on you, tell them: You don’t live for public approval. If someone throws the religious card on you, tell them: Religion states that a person doesn’t have to marry if they’re not ready, that their consent is extremely important. If someone tells you you’re getting old/unwanted/etc, tell them to find another hobby instead of pampering their ego by picking on others. There are so many people out there who genuinely have nothing better to do but the good thing is, I believe there’s a special spot for them in hell and karma also does them a favor eventually but that their sole punishment in life is simple: Being their miserable, pathetic selves.

Rise above them.

See, the thing this society won’t tell you is that you need to think your plans through, you need to ask yourself before you commit to something, you have to think for yourself. This society won’t ever tell you that your worth is not determined by the melanin in your skin, the pounds you weigh or don’t, how many jewels you have or not, how hot a partner you’ve scored, the cash in your account, etc. The society will always make you feel rushed, incompetent and disrespected. Challenge that. Fight against it. Call people out on their bullshit. Make mistakes, learn from them. Live life the way you want to. Don’t let anyone define anything for you. But above all, be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Learn and live and be happy.

And marry when you want to.

End of my manifesto.

Ran out of crayons.

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229 thoughts on “The Shaadi Manifesto

  1. superb bolay tou rapchick . translation “very well written I mean outclass”… please thora se brain cells mujhe donate ker do… translation… no need you understand what I mean… :)

      1. Mahreen, very well written blog. I suppose you have covered all the major points that probably makes marriage a “scary business” for girls in our society. I agree with the right of “choice” and strongly advocate it. I hope women get the social freedom that they deserve in our society.

      2. Proud of you. Didn’t know girls like you existed in this country.Thank you for sharing this with all of us. A vast majority needs to read this,maybe it will get rid of the several bugs that live in their minds.

    1. Very well written and right on spot. I couldn’t agree more. People in our society really need to use their brains for this Shadi manifesto or probably they need to get a life. :)

  2. Brilliant. Nice to see that we as two different countries have still maintained some of the same crap that kept us together in the first place.

    HIndu/ Muslim / Christian , India / Pakistan, Rich / Poor, this is one issue that transcends quite a few of the otherwise set social boundaries :D

    Could you translate the first doodle with urdu on it ? and can I share this post ?

      1. another excellent piece, totally spoke what i’ve been shouting around for years into my friends’ ears!! there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get married instead of establishing a career, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting a proper pace in your career before getting married, or not getting married at all. we all have a choice and that should be respected.
        and the “chaand si pyari, phool si paakdaaman dulhan” mentality should be steamrollered and fed to hungry puppies!
        on a side note, it’s really rude to point out, but i’m a grammar nazi, so here goes: it’s “shaadi-parast maashray KA raaj, nahi chale GA! nahi chale GA!” :)
        and once again, hats off to the awesome Miss Kasana :)

  3. It’s also very annoying when your family keeps reminding you to get married coz apparently when you cross a certain age no girl will want to marry you :P. I really wish people would grow up and not obsess over marriage so much.

      1. Sorry I don’t understand Urdu!
        Actually I’m Moroccan (yeah, Morocco, that far North African country which seems to be totally unknown in Asia :D)

  4. I swear, this needs to be translated, included in school curriculums and be spread out all over Pakistan, as pamphlets or whatever.
    Or better, make its reading obligatory. Through the law.

  5. I’m not Pakistani, but I can totally connect to this post. It’s a beautiful post, and I will link this to any “liberal feminist” and/or any other person who tries to define what a woman should to do.

  6. Wow.Gosh, I am feeling so relieved and ever so more confident. It is great to know that I’m not the only one trying to fight these social bounds.

      1. Though not completely relevant, still I want to tell you something. My Husband and I decided that we are perfectly content with one child , a happy and energetic eight year old son ,mashaAllah. However, it is a very alien concept in our society. I get sick and tired of people asking ‘Bus aik he bacha , haw hawey….ilaaj nahin karwaya apna? Uffff I used to turn angry but now I will give them a copy of this article and say ‘ leave me alone, it is my choice! ‘ Thanks Mehreen….It will take a while before certain segments of our society become mature enough to stop meddling in other people’s private lives

    1. Hana, Im an only child, and I know many children that do not have siblings too. And all are of the belief that an only child is just not fair on the child, or on its children (no aunts and uncles from that side of the family, no cousins etc). Having siblings is very important, ask those that do not have any! Not one I know say any different! Its different if you cant have anymore…thats different! Id be grateful for just one child if there was some kind of complication! But I really wouldnt wish siblinglessness on anyone! :) Its just an opinion….but please think about it! I had a great upbringing….had everything under the sun! My father made sure I wasnt spoilt because I was an only child…but everything didnt make up for the fact that I didnt have siblings!

  7. Spot on! This is something that needed to be said and you said it. Am going to be sharing it….profusely! If thats alright with you!

  8. what a sweet article and very colorful too…woman protecting women and just with a pen and few crayons.. u did an awesome job!

  9. I definitely think old biddies just get bad press.. Both my grandmothers got married after 30, first kid way way WAY after that.So all this ticking body clock stuff is just pure shit! And they were God fearing gharelu women not trapeze artists .. Yeh aaj kal ka zamana kharab hai that they are nudging twenty somethings towards getting married. I blame global warming

  10. Everything you said is so convincing and real.
    “You don’t live for public approval.” +10
    “Respect does not mean breaking your spine to please your mother-in-law or your husband’s second cousin’s uncle’s sister.” +100
    Worth Quoting!!

  11. V. slight correction to the Urdu above: “raaj” is muzakkar, not mo’annas. So it would be “Shaadi parast mu’aashray KA raaj! Nahin chalay ga, nahin chalay ga!”

  12. I think I’m in love with you. I’m straight but I’m in love anyway. You just voiced all my marriage-related shikayaat so perfectly it brought me to tears. No kidding. Maybe you should have added the ‘larki doctor honi chahiye’ thing as well. (Or maybe I’ll do something on that when I get over my inarticulacy.)
    I’m not anti-marriage. I just hate it when people skip over everything else you’ve planned for your life and act like marriage should be your sole priority. Not even your priority- your ultimate goal.
    This is awesomeness, basically. :D

  13. Thankyou so much to u!may Allah bless u , u dont have any idea how close to heart ur words have touched! even if u r educated n from a well off family u have to think a million times befor getting a divorce frm a’husband who was a jerk to the nth level’ cz the ‘society’ wont let u live.personal experience:-\
    n truly ‘my home is where i was raised.where my mother made breakfast for me and my
    siblings.where my mineral facewash is’ im blessed to have parents who have always made me believe that,who stood by me

  14. Mehreen,you have written it bravely.I wish that every girl should read it aloud and stop cursing herself not to get married at ”certified age”.stop receiving sympatheies if you got a tag of divorce and stop laeding life dictated by someone else.But you know,how much we flourish in life,by the end of day we try to judge ourselves according to so called society norms and get frustrated if we arent up to them.I know many girls/women in my surrounding who are very talented but they refuse all opportunities which are useful for their personal and professional growth just for the sake of rishta or shaadi.

  15. So thankyou once again! Im sharing this all around n YES making my own choices n living life the way i want to.prayers for u:-)

  16. Mehreen I usually really like your articles, and this is no exception; it’s entertaining and insightful, with all the right messages. Having said that, it also shows only side of the picture; depicting only girls to be suffering from marital-related woes. The issues you have pointed out are indeed legit (though divorce is no longer that big a deal in the big cities), and I love the way you emphasize the need to completely ignore what society and other people preach/want/gossip, but today’s women have also changed, and are simply not as submissive/innocent as, say 10-15 years ago. In many cases in urban areas, its the women who’re the bigger problem with their ultra-materialistic ambitions and obnoxious demands.

    1. Why is the submission of a woman to her husband and in-laws seen as a desirable thing? Our society places the onus of making a marriage work soleley and entirely on women and views her submission and sacrifices as not just a desirable but necessary trait to make a marriage work. But when a man is seen as submissive to his wife, the society laments him as “joru ka ghulam”. The problem isnt that women are more confident and self-aware and unwilling to submit to the men in their lives. The problem is that men who are so used to “seedhi saadhi” wife being dependent on them for their entire existence cant handle a confident woman who knows what she wants in life.

  17. FABULOUS! I would read this out to my mom, but then again, I feel sorry for her. I have experienced all the above. I am from Karachi, originally, but live in Dubai, and all my mom ever talks about is shaadi. I’ve been hearing about it since I was freakin’ 14, and now I am almost 21. I don’t want to shaadi yaar. You say time nikal jaega, and koi acha rishta nahi ayega? Khair hai. I’ll work on my career and date hot, powerful men. Because guess what? It’s my CHOICE.
    I love you, by the way. You should really start something way more vocal. And your doodles! Cutie patooties. Haye.

  18. Wow! That’s one of the most well written and felt blogs I’ve ever come across. Your doodles are the cutest and most amazing part of it(a big fan of the doodles from
    Instagram). God bless you. Total respect.

  19. Nice rant !. An entirely different angle of looking at things, which off course, I am not denying completely, but somewhere down the line, this may fail considering the optimistic society we think about. Just watched another TED talk on similar topic. Thought I should share it.

  20. Oooooo dear dear little Mehreen….that’ rea;;y excellent, your words wrapend in truth made me to strike my finger on key-board and let you know that…………..wooooooo maaa shaa Allahh….

    may Allah taalaa bleeees you, with more wit n humor … jeeeeteeeeeeeeeeee rahoooooooooo….!

  21. As I grew up I came to realize that I do not want to live by my mothers example. Almost all the things listed in this article have been cited to me by her. Her parents taught her the same ‘values’ and she suffered so much because of that, that to her if a woman doesn’t subject herself to pain, humiliation and disrespect, she is a weak woman who doesn’t know how to ‘compromise’ and ‘make her marriage work’. It would be great if I could get an Urdu version of this so I can show it to her and say ‘This is how I think and no I’m not going to let others push me around. I’m going to fight for my rights, marry if I want or if I don’t want and there is nothing wrong with that.’

  22. Just read this, beautiful piece. Thank you. I think all the mothers and rishta aunties need to read it. Hope it brings some sense into the women. Also the our doodles are always amazing.

  23. I appreciate your thoughts and insight into the thinking of our society towards Marriage. Just would like to add that during this modern era it has been one major core issue hitting our streets, cities and villages. It would be more helpful if an Urdu versin is available to spread the message to our masses.

  24. I hear you! God, but I hear you.

    I do think someone should stand up for the Molty Foam ad, just because I think in all fairness it was “Meri nanhi kali naye ghar ko chali”. Which is still milder…my Mummy used to sniff a little at the end, every time.

    But not to detract from the message – the premise was still you-should-give-a-comfortable-mattress-as-dowry. Which is only fine if that’s what the “nanhi kali” really really wants :)

    On a different note, you might find this interesting: http://www.pakistanimatrimony.com/register/index.php?source=inorganic

    Please to scroll down to the last question.

  25. It’s one good read, Mehreen.. However, a shorter version of it can only be created by you, which, in my opinion, is much needed.. But hey, I love the reactions you’ve jotted down.

  26. A wonderful job done. I wish if someone could read the choice vala section to all my khalas and my second and third khalas. And to my father that rishtas will hopefully come if you cross the stated age. And girls themselves, please stop thinking about getting married before having a career, honestly, its for your own good.
    Please write something about the marriage of your own choice. Although i know its a ghisa pitta topic but i’d want to read something about it as well. And that its ok if the guy you want to get married to is not a landlord or some big shit’s son.

    1. You should read this out to your folks if they bother you. Friends, society, whatever. Point is: Don’t just stay put and complain. Do something. I know you can. And yes, there is a huge need to slap sense into people about the obsession they have with big names and cold cash for their prospective spouses/sons-in-law (in most cases). Call them out on their bullshit.

  27. mostly voices our culture’s ills very well…what i do have an issue with is d loss of virginity being okay…if ur using religion to strengthen parts of ur argument , dont blatantly ignore it here…dont pick n choose.
    everythng else though i guess i support… dis thinking needs to change…n gradually n very slowly is…women 2day arent wot dey used 2 be…urself being a prime example.

    1. That is my own prerogative. Something I stated in the very beginning of the post: Choice. A woman can be a virgin or not, it does not concern the public. It is between her and her conscience, her faith, her Lord. Public commentary and punishment is wrong. Thanks for commenting.

      1. Agree, if guys can get up to anything and everything they wish and get away with it and remain clean and “pure” then why can’t girls?

  28. Absolutely spot on! I didn’t go through the pre-marriage obstacles you wrote about the rishta aunties et all. I’m blessed with wonderful parents who ensured and enabled me to stand on my own 2 feet before I got married so that I can be completely financially independent of my spouse and I couldn’t be more grateful, Alhamdullilah. However, what you wrote “respect does not mean breaking your spine to please your mother-in-law or your husband’s second cousin’s uncle’s sister. Respect does not mean forgetting your own legitimate needs for the petty objection raised by the family you’ve become part of.” Aye Aye sister it’s like you were speaking my mind! Lol. It wasn’t my parents’ expectations that I had a tough time meeting but the expectations I encountered from those in my “new home” or “real home” (HA!) the cousins, aunts, third cousin’s uncle’s sister’s and so on. It doesn’t end really. I believe to get respect you need to give respect regardless of the age/generation difference cos it ain’t a one way street. Great post!

  29. Mahreen hats off to you…u said it all…these are the things what i used to say to my parents and i somehow managed to convince them too . So far i have spent my life on my own terms ,i did my degree , doing job as a banker for past 4 years and by the grace of God going to get marry as i found my prince charm.
    I strongly recommend all those single girls just focus on your career and don’t get worried about wedding bells….As getting marry is all about fate..when the time comes no one can stop.All you have to do just build your career and make yourselves so strong that you could take a decision and stay confident about it.

  30. wives and mothers are often key in keeping families together. i have seen my mother do it for 50 years, it was initially because of her efforts, and as a result of her efforts then my father’s efforts because of which both parents are close to both families – and we’re all so close knit.
    though i agree with the choice to marry as and when a girl or boy wishes, regardless of superficialities such as looks, a section of your blog post, particularly that which mocks the coming together of 2 families – will pump up or fuel a lot of badtameez bahoos who will use this consciously or subconsciously to justify lack of effort towards “pleasing” the inlaws, in this day and age no one has time for the inlaws, forging huge divides and subsequent tensions. putting in an effort is something both husband and wife can and should always do, and if one doesn’t do it, it’s alright to gently push them in that direction. I don’t know your age, but you sound young. opinions change or adapt over time as one observes more. experience and observation tells me that those who don’t “bend over backwards” to please their inlaws end up being selfish and raising selfish spawn. this is not to justify or encourage unjust or mean inlaws, or to suggest that one should be a doormat to cruelty etc. it is only mentioned in terms of putting your best effort forward to “normal” inlaws, whether you are a husband or a wife. that is not slavery.
    that all said, the sentiment behind your article is appreciated.

    1. “Badtameez bahoos” are usually the ones who dare to voice their opinions in households, from what I’ve witnessed. I am not an advocate of wrecking homes but I also am against remaining meek and submissive simply because the society dictates a dichotomy of traits for men and women. My mother has been an exceptional daughter-in-law while maintaining a difference between her autonomy and her respect for her in-laws. We grew up fine with a strong sense of affiliation for family, tradition, unity and sacrifice. I understand your point but I respectfully don’t agree with it completely since my intention is not to raise a legion of women disrespecting the families they enter, but to have them speak up when it is the time and place. It’s their right.

      1. I completely agree with u Mehreen. Standing ur ground doesn’t necessarily mean being ‘badtameez’ but knowing how/when to pick ur battles. Also, being the newbie in ur spouse’s family it’s both sides that need to put in the effort to form a relationship. It can’t be just the girl who’s expected to please the in-laws, relationships are built over time and definitely not by force. No amount of pressure from ur spouse or his mother can make you develop a relationship with anyone in his family where you’re expected to make all the effort and heaven forbid one day you’re not in the mood all hell breaks loose. How about the new family adjusting JUST a little bit to make room for the new person in their house or to put them at ease rather than expecting them to change their whole way of being overnight? Also, it takes two to tango – so one should be just a little bit more open-minded before saying that the ‘badtameez bahoo’ is at fault cos she’s not bending over backwards and therefore is ‘selfish’ and will ‘raise selfish spawn’. That’s a blanket statement that does not apply in most situations. I’ve seen friends who have completely wonderful relationships with their ‘normal in-laws’ where both sides know that giving the other just a bit of space is not the end of the world.

  31. Wowww, a truly awesome article! It was high time SOMEONE wrote about this issue and others falling under its umbrella! And that someone had to be someone who was exposed to both Punjabi and Western cultures, someone who’d lived in them both and could see the positives and negatives of both.

    And I cannot understand WHY fair-skinned people are thought of as attractive, on the mere basis that they have skin that’s a tad fairer than other Punjabis?! And someone who might be drop dead gorgeous and a little less “gora” be branded as “kala”! Our mentality about this whole issue is sooo f***ked up!

    And God, you guys think that it’s harsh on straight people when they are hassled about getting married have you guys ever thought how difficult it might be for gay, lesbian and bi people??

    1. “Officially” they don’t exist in Pakistan. Sad state of affairs, I know but I don’t see this changing anytime soon.

  32. i agree with you for the most part however I have said it to a lot of my single friends, a good career and a good marriage are not mutually exclusive. What’s important is the freedom of choice like you said. I got engaged while I was still in school and for me being married and having a great support system is one of the reason why I can pursue my career the way I do. Now when I am expanding my marital enterprise I, contrary to what I thought I would even consider before, am actually considering taking a sabbatical and just being a stay-at-home wife. I have had to face a lot of discouragement on the topic. Majority of my circle of friends think I should “think about it” but I am really looking forward to the idea of finally getting rid of domestic guilt and giving the whole of my day to my husband, who makes life worth living for me. For me feminism is just as simple as that. Every woman should have the right to choose. Be it getting married at 18 or 38 or never. Just her choice. So today if I feel that just being a bum at home and cooking dinner for a husband is what I want my life to be like, I should have the right to do so, and be respected for it. yes/ no/ maybe?

  33. This. Was. AWESOME.

    Kudos Mehreen, for writing such a heartfelt manifesto.

    And I was bery, bery happy to see the doodles return.

    I was totally wondering about this line you wrote:

    This argument can be challenged rightfully by the scenario in lower classes where marriages of convenience take place

    This probably means that sheer poverty is forcing women to marry in the lower classes, since they need to immediately get together with someone who can supplement their income. This definitely deserves it’s own look, at why anti-women views are complemented with poverty.

    May you never run out of crayons, Mehreen.

  34. Thank you for sharing this Mehreen. I think this should be shared with both women and men alike. We have a right to empowerment, choice and above all a voice. I recently got out of a relationship because my partner and I had different views on marriage and children (I wanted to make a career for myself and put off having children for a while after marriage) and in the end I was called a “heartless b****” to want these things.
    This post made me realize that I made the right choice ending our relationship and I’ll be making this my motto: “Don’t let anyone define anything for you.”
    Also, other than excellent writing skills you are talented with your doodles, cutest I’ve ever seen! :)

  35. Haha. Brilliant article!

    Reminded me of my own mom who, unfortunately, comes under that aunty category you seem to love so much. She had once called on one of her friend’s landline and apparently her daughter picked up (I was asleep in my room, but since Ami has a habit of broadcasting loudly while on the phone I could hear her quite clearly). She then went on to ask her about her age, profession and other general stuff. After all that she asked her what her name was. Needless to say, I tried to bury myself in my quilt and pillow to drown out any other sound that might come way.

    I’d show this article to my mom but she’d probably comment about how our society’s deteriorating and what not :P

    PS: Loved the doodles btw. Made for a fascinating read overall.

  36. An excellent piece of work. If only our society could start thinking out of the box and not make marriage a huge issue. Every girl/boy should have the right to marry whenever they want to and whenever they are ready without any social, religious, cultural or family pressure. I wish the rishta window shopping system will end some day (Ameen)

    Good Work! :)

  37. Loved the article – but as an American who’s spent most of my life in Pakistan, especially the Sindh area, the perspective you write from is primarily a western perspective. I don’t know that my Pakistani friends could relate, many whom don’t know how to read so it doesn’t matter what language you post in I can’t speak for them, but I can say that what I heard when last in Pakistan a year ago doing flood relief is that their biggest concerns were not about choice in marriage but about health, safety, and education for their children. That being said – for the audience you write for – Tum bahut accha likhtee ho! (did I get that right?!)

    1. Haha. Thanks for commenting, Marilyn. The demographic you mentioned (re: flood-afflicted people) had a point to say so but this isn’t exactly a non-Pakistani sentiment; there are many women and men who resonate the same opinion of choice both in Urdu and English. They understand it well. Even if it’s in Punjabi, Pakhto, Saraiki, etc. It’s all inter-related.

      And, yes, you got it right!

  38. Seriously I know your target audience is for females but trust me everything you mentioned can be related to a lot of guys! Amazing reading & so true!! Live life without hurting & marry when you want to if you want to & most importantly who you want to. Live life !! Don’t rush into marriage .. Well done though ..

  39. You wrote an amazing manifesto! I loved it. Hit the nail on the head for each point. I appreciate the empowering message….it’s something so many women have lost….The sense of self, the sense of leadership that can shine within them, and the voice that strengthens her to say what she wants and means. Definitely passing it on and wishing it was in hindi, urdu, and punjabi to pass on to our aunties like others have requested. It’s hard to get that generation out of their set ways….but hopefully this can be step #1. Education is always the key. Thanks for writing.

  40. Concur with a comment above. Guys can relate too. I’m just mortified by the idea of having to accept someone not chosen by me to setup camp in my house, not only for my sake but also perhaps for her’s as I know well that I am not a saint (although I cant imagine why anyone would want to marry a saint anyway).

    /loudly disagree that there are women who do not want to have sex. What are they doing? Riding unicorns? /obvious joke.

    /looking forward to your thoughts on a related topic; homosexuality.

  41. Hey. Regarding your Ramzan post from a few months ago, why do you call candy corn corn candy? I would improve the clarity of that question, but I’m unsure about the punctuation requirements. Good thing I’m not a writer.

  42. I agree with a lot of your points, but when someone tells you they’re divorced, I don’t think being nonchalant about it is the answer. Many times if a friend mentions it, they are hurting, it’s a huge decision and is pretty life changing if you’d like to admit that or not. Not only is the person probably pretty upset about the divorce, they’re probably pretty upset about whatever caused it. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a bigger deal for the divorcee’s and their families then you might believe.

    Also, having someone that you could financial depend on isn’t the worst thing in the world. We’re made to believe we have to hold down full time jobs, have kids, cook, clean, etc. It can be nice to have one thing taken off your plate if the need arises.

  43. O M G. this was brilliant and REALLY REFRESHING TO READ. you feel like the online partner-in-crime i’ve been searching for – i’m so happy to have found your blog! keep up the amazing and wickedly humorous work! :)

  44. Mehreen Kasana, it was very brilliant effort, definitely different point of view as compare to on going thinking pattern of the society and parents since the drama serial “Saas be kabi bahu thi”, but what about getting married to a guy who is already married…becoming second wife is also not that bad issue…or letting other women come in the life of our husband is ok with us…what if you accidentally find that this Mr. X is right man for me and i damn care if he has wife and kids,he also likes me and he can support me, so hell with the people i can eat what ever pastry i want…i know right now even if no body knows me they will label me as “dishonest,.and what not”…and please don’t start raising the voice that we in this regard disagree because we don’t want to spoil some one else’s home..”us bechari ka kia kasoor hai…””allah na karey koi mera ghar tabah karey..”…please if you women feel that much subjugated and depressed and you think that” why every one in the society wants to press this “RED button”…think bring liberal thinking in every aspect of life.. :D Just a point view from my side, relax none is asking you(women) for second marriage…

  45. “…Make mistakes, learn from them. Live life the way you want to. Don’t let anyone define anything for you. But above all, be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Learn and live and be happy.

    And marry when you want to.”

    excellent manifesto. *applause* it’s so sad because these things are actually quite common sense. nobody wants to be rushed or judged or ostracized and yet very few people think twice about doing it to somebody else.

    i just got married two months ago. for the first couple of weeks i was labouring under the crippling idea that maybe i made a hasty decision. maybe i read to far into something that might just have been infatuation. maybe there were no signs.. maybe i was just imagining things.

    but i’ve always had a very firm belief that when something is supposed to happen, it just feels right. and it did feel right. from the moment i met him i just knew i would like him. and this was an arranged (sort of) meeting.

    actually, the point i’m trying to make is, that, everyone forgets that we are not created from one template. one person’s experiences and ideas and feelings can only go as far as providing an example of a sequence of events (and even then, we don’t see any of the hidden truths.) there is only one of each of us; only i know what i know; only i have seen what i have seen; only i have felt what i have felt. you or she or he may have felt something similar, but not what i felt.

    so, basically. uhh.. yeah. people should remember that.

  46. I’m a bit teary eyed after reading this cuz you’ve said exactly my thoughts so simply and clearly. I’m a 27 year old single female with a good career, perfectly content with the way I am and i’ve through such weird phases like ‘parh ke kia karna hai, iski shaadi karado’ at 18 to ‘iski shaadi ab tou mushkil hai’ at 27. People are so horribly judgmental here. This article should seriously be DRILLED into people’s heads in this country.

  47. I want to get married and I am all ready for it. But I can’t find a suitable match, why? Because I cannot match these rishta aunties’ standards of beauty and perfection. And No, I am not fat short and dark (no offence to anyone, just some general traits which are considered ugly by these rishta aunties) But still, not a single rishta auntie liked me and this is getting to my head and depressing me to death.
    No kidding!

    1. Sorry and sad to hear this but surely if these rishta aunties (matchmakers?) don’t like you, find one who is prepared to represent you, bringing forward your qualities. As someone who passed the great age divide, I am now sought not only for my fair skin, lustrous hair etc but because I am a financially independent, wealthy woman who can “help” a potential husband set up…..sure if he’s good looking, has his own teeth and hair, waghera waghera. Oh how the tables have turned! Chin up, cookie x
      Ps enjoyed the manifesto!

  48. That’s brilliant articulation of worst-ever practices of our society. Being someone who follows religion fundamentally ( utmost authenticity) I can assure you and your readers that all wrong stuff that our sisters have to face is in contradiction to Islam. Islam allows women the right to choose and have visions for their lives. At the same time, there are certain issues that Islam has mentioned as motivation or benefits with fair bit of rationality ( marrying early, more off springs ) but not as obligation leaving room for personal choice which is the main subject of your write-up also in accordance with Islam – Wallahalam.

  49. That’s brilliant articulation of worst-ever practices of our society. Being someone who follows religion fundamentally ( utmost authenticity) I can assure you and your readers that all wrong stuff that our sisters have to face is in contradiction to Islam. Islam allows women the right to choose and have visions for their lives. At the same time, there ARE certain issues that Islam has mentioned as motivation or benefits with fair bit of rationality and social-dynamics( marrying early, more off springs ) not going into details, but surely not as an obligation; leaving room for ‘personal choice’, which is the main subject of your write-up also in accordance with Islam – Wallahalam.

  50. LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this article! It’s like you transferred all of the little voices inside my head into a very well-written article! LOVE it!

  51. This post is so spot on … I’m mean for gods sake a girl/woman isn’t a child bearing machine and isn’t supposed to just take care of other people and not think about herself at all … It’s her choice … It’s not something that you’re supposed to choose for her … If she wants to ge married she will … Everyone should just back the hell off and let her be … Let her be her in own person before she can be something else … Absolutely loved your post …

  52. Outstanding piece Mehreen on an issue that affects all women albeit to varying degrees. I got engaged at 30, by the time I get married I will be 31. I studied and lived in Canada and the UK, and have been supporting myself financially since I was 23. My parents are pretty supportive and have never shoved marriage down my throat. The reason I am saying all this is that even when I thought I had everything figured out and was living a pretty good life by most standards, the pressure to get married and “settle down” was unrelenting. If its not your parents, its your extended family and your friends. I dreaded being set up by well-meaning yet pushy friends. I remember breaking down in private after an argument with my best friend when she said I was being stupid and would regret being “choosy” when I was 40 and single. Being single should not be this hard; we all need to educate ourselves about respecting a woman’s (or man’s) freedom to live the life they want to live without having to develop a defensive/bitchy exterior.

  53. On the topic of divorce I heard one comedian (Louie CK) say :

    “You should never be sad when someone gets divorced… No happy or good marrige ever ended in divorce. so when someone gets divorced u should be happy for them because thier misery finally ended. “

  54. GOD You people, STOP bashing rishta aunties. If they are no more how the hell will I ever get introduced to a girl (some of us and our parents don’t have a large circle of friends and work in industries like manufacturing where not many women are employed). Have some mercy I don’t want to end up forever alone :(
    Other than that, fine article.

  55. gurl you re 200 percent correct…i luved the part when you said “larki ka asli ghar susraal hota…FUCK NO…:P ahahahahaha luv yew for writing this manifesto in the first place…we in Pakistan need gurls with such a mentality……cheers to being a lady with brains…thank God you dont belong to the league of those who start day dreaming about their khaabon ka shehzaada since the dam puberty age :P cheers once again….keep up the spirit…um already your fan :)

  56. Brilliant as usual – definitely up to our generation (newly 30 myself) and those just behind us to stand up for what is really just common sense on a human level when it comes to how we choose to live our lives, single or married. Love that suggestion of us males who have sisters or other close female relatives, to make sure we tell them and we know how amazing they are, regardless of their marital status or other features that the older generation defines them by. It may sound morbid, but these and other related concepts need to die with this elder generation. No discredit to our parents by any means, but many of the ideas that have been carried forward from culture and as you say, poisoned the faith as a result, have got to stop. The greater community needs to be brought back to health – and this issue is one of many ailments that needs to be treated each and every day we are cleansed of it.

  57. Here from Tito’s blog, where he had reblogged this post.
    Had to drop in a line and tell you that this is brilliant. I do hope you get to live this manifesto, and so too, others. As Tito has said, no matter what the divide, and how the distinctions are made, women get the short end of it all.
    Very articulate. Very very on the dot. God Bless!

  58. I don’t agree with all of it. But I agree with the point of having career and choosing spouse (not someone enforced on her), I think marriage should not b put on hold for too long for either men or women. I also agree with the idea of women not killing herself to please her inlaws but there should be a balance, both husband and wife should make an effort.

    Also may be I am wrong, but my understanding was marriage is a farz, but in your article you say it’s a sunnah. I am going to dig in to some religious sources to confirm, if you have any religious source (Quran or Hadis ) then please let me know.

    1. I never asked anyone to disrespect their in-laws so that’s an assumption. I also disagree with you; People can marry whenever they want – on hold or not. Marriage isn’t farz; it’s a sunnah emphasized upon. But religion does understand if one cannot marry for a legitimate reason personal in nature thereby stating that other sins be abstained from. That’s all.

  59. All I can say is you KICK ASS! I friggin loved your post!
    All the points you’ve mentioned here are significant not because they make sense or seem rational, but rather because they’ve been embedded within us women psychologically, from the time we are born to the time we get married off. And this bullshit doesn’t even begin to deteriorate after getting married, it moulds itself into other weird ‘stereotype’ notions that are out to get us and devour our own feminine existence. *sigh*
    Anywhoooo, I’m so following your blog! :D

  60. This was brilliant, to the point, apt, marvelous *insert a zillion other adjectives*. Definitely worth a share to all the women out there who are blind slaves to society. *applause*

  61. As someone who grew up in a non-Desi Muslim culture very similar to yours, it was interesting to see the female perspective of what has been my life for quite sometime. While I don’t want to offend anyone’s religious sensibilities, Islam actually creates an environment where both men and women are supposed to submit to the interests of community rather than their personal happiness and individual pursuits. The whole drama around ‘shaadi’ (or ‘bia’ as we call it) is just a manifestation of this tendency to ‘keep everyone in the hive’, so to speak.

  62. Have just discovered ur blog and this was the first piece I read. So hilarious, refreshing and most importantly, correct! you hit the nail on the head perfectly, and the drawings are excellent :-)

  63. Resonating a story of almost every one (males and females) over the age of 18 years in Pakistani Urban societies for sure! well rural and semi urban as well… but the so called middle class have so many of these ‘bharams’… What I do not understand is that why all these aunties forget their own experiences of misery and keep repeating the cycle over? This manifesto should be converted into posters and widely disseminated!!! You rock Mehreen!

  64. This is superb Mehreen, my parents have similar viewpoints and I showed it to them unfortunately resulting in a rather long rant about how the opinions of people like you were corrupting me and turning me from a Islamabad-born shareef to someone likely to run away with a gori from my University in Birmingham. Strangely you seem to be exactly like the girl I really like (d)- feminist, satirical cartoonist and avid literature reader amongst other things- I wrote a rather cheesy poem for her which apparently was a relatively good piece of work according to my friends. If you fancy having a look, can I somehow message you it privately? :)

  65. Loved this! And my absolute least favorite thing is the list of physical requirements on girls, especially fair skin. By God, she can be a cow but if she’s fair it’s no issue :p

  66. This bit was peculiarly interesting. “It is a person’s choice to marry or not and this decision is theirs alone.”

    I suppose I don’t need to remind you that choices carry consequences? You would have to be 45 and childless to really know if you made the right choice.

    Also, ‘making a career first’ comes with a caveat. You don’t know how long it will take. Its great if you’re successful by the age of 25, but for most girls that will not happen, if ever. And it doesn’t matter how successful you are in your line of work if you are 34. No one wants you now. Sad but true.

    I do hope you will let my comment through.
    Regards.

    1. Khan sb, what do you love most?
      *gestures for a crow bar*

      ha ha. on a serious note, i thik you need to read through Mehreen’s post here again. being “wanted” is not every girl’s dream. it may be sad for some but its true.

      @Mehreen: i *heart* this. let me know if you need a co with your translation. i would do it so our mothers read it, and our teachers tell their students! hats off!

  67. I so completely agree with every single point you made. Every single one. It’s refreshing to know that someone of my age group and cultural upbringing feels the same way about this issue. Thank you!

  68. Your new fan, Mehreen.
    seems like finding-my-voice-back, while reading thru some of your empowering write-ups :)
    just sent you a request on fb to follow you because i primarily use it.

  69. Wow. It made me laugh surprisingly that how beautifully you have explained this all marriage menifesto. Mehrren, this is really a hot issue to be solved collectively. Superb art of writing. Thanks.
    Best of Luck!

  70. this is beautiful. it’s all i wanted to say, to whoever brought it up, but i never had this kind of patience with people who are grown ups yet act like irrational kids :) way to go!
    PS. I have some extra crayons ;)

  71. Touche, my friend. The skin color thing…. God forbid if I ever decide to get a tan! I was wed off exactly like that. “It’s your age. People are asking/watching us. Your biological clock is ticking. You have started looking old now.” I was married to a man I knew for not more than an hour, and had never spoken to. It shocks people in the US when I tell them that.

    And now comes the pressure of “Have a kid already! All girls your age who got married with you or after you have a kid. Why do you not? People are asking us now!” The idea of having a career as a priority is appalling to them. And if you tell them “We don’t have money to raise a kid”, you are almost always replied with the cliche “Harr bacha apna rizq khud hi le kar ata hai (Every child brings his/her own livelihood/sustenance)”. Sadly, both my parents are highly educated, have traveled the world and made sure us siblings got the best education available. You’d think they’d have more sense than that.

    I suppose that should be the next topic of your manifesto… “The No Kids Policy”. Lol!

  72. Wow! I simply love your thinking. In Pakistan people treat women like a show piece when it comes to marriage and they tell her how she should be and how others would like her if she is acting in a certain way. I am getting married and I can totally relate to this. My mom tells me all the time that I will have to cook after marriage and a lot of other things which I don’t do now. I don’t like to cook. Does that makes me a bad wife? I want to cook like may be once a month and even that should be out of my own choice. Not because others want to see me cooking. huh! Hey! why should I alter my life to make others happy? I do that by being nice and that should be enough. Not that I have to please them always. MEN in our society have a need to make women work for them. Why? Why? Why can’t they just be like, oo you are my life partner and I like you as it is and do what you want. I am just happy being with you. NO! instead they will want you to change everything about you and then complain oo you r not the same anymore. Booo you. You did to them.
    There is just so much a girl living in our society can say on this because everyone is going through some sort of problems. At the end all i wanna say is that now change has to happen and it is

    1. OK don’t do this. I am sure you know what I mean when I say this. Walk into your next class. Throw the professor out. Start by saying ” I’m in charge here. Listen and listen well.” I’ll bet everyone in the room will learn more THAT day.
      Always a pleasure Tasha !!!

  73. I’ve read your blog for the first time. Its trully amazing. Really loved the way you fabricated this entire manifesto. Crayon paintings part really stood out. Bravo.
    Tip to hat. :)

  74. And to add to this I just loved the sarcastic tone you have. It makes things easier to read with a smile on your face. Though I didnot face similar issues but yes I have heard all these lines everywhere, coming from all over the place. Even random neighbor aunties wouldnt mind intruding ones privacy with such suggestions.

  75. agree with the rest but I wouldn’t entirely be dismissive of the shaadi between two families. To me what it means is that your families have to be somewhat compatible in their backgrounds because believe me all this may not matter during courtship or engagement but makes a hell lot of a difference in your married life. An educated family where even the nani/dadis attended college or university has markedly different ethos from upstarts where the current generation might sport trendy designers, a hip twang and a degree or two but no education or grooming in the generations before. A girl or boy from a boy brought up in the former would have a hellish time adjusting with a member of the latter after the initial euphoria has worn off. I have seen one too many cases of such matches made in heavan gone horribly wrong.

  76. Very well written Mehreen!!! Enjoyed going through every bit of it. Wish our society changes and adopts what is actually required for a good living.

    Do you write often? If yes, mind sharing your blog? Would love to read more of your writings.

    Stay blessed!!

  77. I do not agree 100 % with you, there are lot of pointers on which we can have debate. This may be you perspective which is quite individualistic but being social animals we cannot deny the factor of socialism. Your manifesto seems ok if you are living alone, but if you are living in competitive environment then every thing must be relative. Anyways Good Luck!

  78. Something very well written and directly from heart…. may Allah bless you for the effort….. all you wrote was right and a correct picture of how our society behaves… people need to learn that Marriage is not everything….be normal … try normal…. act normal….. face this idiotic society the way they want it….. even if u r married people won’t stop, they’ll keep on bugging you for when will u have kids… which school will your kids go…. their O/A levels grades… their career… and eventually their marriages (PS: Multiply every question with the no. of kids u choose to have)…… They won’t stop so you also need to continue your life the way you want it….

  79. Ok, I don’t normally respond to well, anything!!!! Status updates, video shares, relationship matters and definitely not blogs. Hey don’t blame me, I’m passive!!! BUT……. And that is a big one, the piece you have written made me smile, laugh, applaud and most of all ponder over things I may have overlooked before. Thank you and thank you :)
    God bless you

  80. oh my god! who or WHAT are you? i love you! i loved this! omg! the way it was written! so full of cynicism and yet so comedic! omg i’m in love with you!

  81. Great job! Education -> Career -> Marriage. Take it from some one who got out of a miserable union just because my family invested in my career. And its surprising how many so called educated and fine people have the “Oh Nooooo” reaction and if not that openly, they think that they feel sorry for you or they should. Sick Sick Sick.

    Know plenty of highly educated young women who are sticking with “unhappy” unions “happily” and feel sorry for liberated one because oh well.. you are not “married”

  82. Mehreen, this was a brilliant piece of writing and couldnt be more true, and this rishta window shopping, well once some unknown ladies came my house and without any hi hello the first thing they said to my mother was LARKI DEKHAO, larki nai hui bakri dekhnay aye hain, thats what my brother said, and i agree to all your points and specially to raise your voice and your concerns i was engaged for two years, and there was NOTHING like engaged couple between us, he never tried talking even and there was a point i stopped trying also and then i got married and he never talked to me because all he was interested in was fulfilling his sexual fantasies because for him shadi meant you got someone to legally screw infront of the world because larki tou tumharay baap jageer hai, shadi jo ker li hai, irrespective of your sexual orientation, irrespective of you telling your newly wedded wife that i was not mentally prepared to get married and have sex (i was never thankful enough when he said that) but well who care you fulfill my sexual fantasies cox i am homosexual so i am not really interested in you!

    MY BIGGEST MISTAKE OF LIFE – i didnt voice my concerns in those two years of engagement and i thought may be its normal, may be its his nature, MY DUMBNESS was when i found out he is into group sex and shemales, i gave him chance to tell me what all this is!

    and i took khula after two months of my marriage, his family knowing everything abt him, did what every other girl who stands for her self have to go through, the girl had an affair, she ran away with some guy, she ran away with all the gold WOW

    and even aft almost 8 months i get msgs on facebook, imagine freaking facebook, from unkonwn people, TUMHARI TALAK Q HUI, i am really sorry for what you went through, something must be wrong with you, WHY DO U CARE SO MUCH!

    1. Im very sad to read your story. Just wanted to say…that those people who say she ran away with the gold…are totally ignorant of islam to say that! Anything that is given to the girl at the time of marriage..is by rights hers…and she has no obligation to return any of it if the marriage is to collapse! On a separate note….PEOPLE TALK..let them…you know..Allah knows…people who know you know…that their version of the story is untrue..KARMA! What goes around comes around! Insha’Allah! Do not worry!

      1. i am fine now infact very happy that its over :), and i strongly believes in karma, infact karma have started acting already :)

        and guess what he got married even before the khula

  83. Lol love this. Totally related to this and I think it’s disgusting how we outcast people cos they’re not fair enough or skinny enough or tall enough etc. absolutely disgusting.

    LOVE your article!!! I’d like to follow you if you have a blog or something … Let me know where to subscribe :)

    P.S. I’m from Virginia too!!!!!

  84. Mehreen,
    I want you to write on the other aspects of Women as well though at few instances it feels like your purely feminist or biased to it. Today, Women are equally responsible for what is happening.. why we do not see the other side of the story??

  85. OMGGGG! this is awesome! Thank you sooooo much Mehreen, i myself wanted to write something like this for a long time, but you have covered all the topics amazingly :D Hats off! really feeling like kissing and hugging you for doing this :D

  86. God I love this! A million times YES! Fought with my (thankfully liberal) family over this. I say people should marry for love (whether it’s love for the other person, love for their money, love for a dying relative who wishes to see you married- whatever, not judging) and NOT because of societal pressure. Or because ‘all my friends are married’.
    Some friends told me that in their community if a girl is not married by 22-23, people assume there’s something ‘wrong with her’. UGH!!!!

  87. So true! Heard all the above mentioned reason when I refused to marry just because I was 25 and everyone convincing me that I should marry the widower with two kids coz I was too old.
    Such a frustrating and shattering experience.

  88. Mehreen you have worded this perfectly. I want to show this to my mother but I’m afraid it will deteriorate our already stiff relationship further. It wasn’t always like this between her and I..we used to be the best of friends. Then I grew up and crossed the “rishta” age and everything fell apart. I am in a situation like this where pretty soon I will be whisked to marry someone I don’t really know..I really can’t do anything about it this time. Your post however gives hope and I wish more and more young Pakistani women get to read it.

  89. Being a girl who took her own sweet time to get engaged and have dictated these things to my parents (though still struggling with the “you’re still chubby” drama) I understand how these things happen with even the most liberal family households. It’s hard, but we’ll break the mould! Brilliant!
    Love the crayon illustrations. You have a knack for art woman. Godspeed to you!

  90. Thankyou for writing this…
    These things need to be said.. Need to be discussed.. You did it with a twist of dry humor that I found pretty enjoyable…

    But having gone through part of what you’ve talked about.. I just really want to hug you lol..

    Cheers

  91. i like the way you express it out! :D
    seems like you re pretty frustrated, like the rest of us.
    the things just do not end here, even if you DO want to get married, they just DO NOT let you do even that with peace.
    The Dowry, Caste, Blah blah Blah!
    Shadi has become more like a trade in this day and age!

  92. I think I just fell in love with you, Mehreen.

    On a serious note, this article spoke my heart out. This is something I could relate to very closely. And I just shared it with my best friend. Thank you, I couldn’t have had put it in a better way.

  93. Aap nay meray dil aur demaag ki har aik aik baat kehdi. Wah. HSY ka shaadi ka jora aap ka huwa! LOL.

    But seriously. I’m a vegetarian (secretly a vegan), animal rights activist, feminist, almost pakka socialist, and extremely outspoken. Yani kay meri tu band bilkul baj chuki hai. But no worries because armed with my brain and my mouth, I manage to ward off any rishta related rhetoric. :p

  94. Very well written :) i ‘ll narrate u an incident i am basically from india settled in london . My mother-in-law is very demanding she always tries to control me one fine day i stood up up for my self n made it clear its not goin to happen as she wants from dat day onwards she stopped talking to me . And u said it rite Home is where u have be brought up n not ur sasuraal

  95. omg i just read this from a friends’ reference on facebook and i think you’ve written my heart out. i swear i just hate this topic too. The way our society has made it such a huge deal and how they get so f***ing emotional when it comes to marriage. i wishhh,just wish people would actually stop blabbing shit. and for once justt bloody once SHUTUP about this huge shadiiii manifesto. GOSHh! i cantt breathe when i hear all this. I can relate to this therefore it actually makes me feel better when someone talks against this..we need to have fun in life too! BAKSSHH DAY HUMAY YEH LOG..
    p.s your blog is amazing. totally love it :*

  96. Love it! I am sure that many many South Asian girls and/or girls from every culture can relate! This is a great voice for South Asian women and understanding what some of us may be going through! Applaud you for such a great article!

  97. Hats off Mehreen! As someone who wants to get married and falls in the category of ‘attractive’ girls, I am not against rishta aunties per se. Some educated (few though) are nice and it’s unfair to blame them for expectations of families. For my brother’s rishta, when we said we want an educated girl from a good family (good not meaning conservative or rich or well connected) just a family like us and it ultimately depends on the boy and girl, she said how refreshing it was to meet a boy’s side who do not want financial benefits or gori chitti or khubsurat or naik bahu. eventually my brother who is quite good looking, doing well got married. My bhabi is amazing, not fair skinned, not thin, but educated, smart, confident, well dressed, poised, mature and even though we have a cook, she makes an effort to cook (her family was not rich and daughters had to do housework), that was not a requirement- I can barely boil an egg- but thing is, she and my brother are happy and she’s nice to us-as are we. She’s great and has become a great new family member and friend for me. She was a bit aloof in the beginning (she later confided her parents got her married because of her ‘age’ although she wanted to study further) but we gave the couple space, didn’t load her with expectations and encoruaged her to study if she wanted to, etc. So yeah in laws need to make an effort too, we have an amazing relationship now.

  98. I disagree with you on one thing. It’s human nature to want companionship and girls who are focused on their careers while others around them get married or are in relationships, that’s rare. Then, bring this into the debate: someone who doesn’t want to get married but desires companionship s doesn’t mind dating men or even one steady boyfriend. What’s your take on that? Personally, I think if you’re not wrecking someone’s home or misleading someone about your intentions, that’s perfectly fine. Also, parents who think girls should have careers and be independent would faint at the mention of their 27 year old daughter ‘seeing a guy’. Hello, we’re humans.

  99. Mehreen…this was an outstanding article. Very well portrayed in a light way. You packed all the situations, problems and awkwardness we being the females, tolerate all our lives. This marriage part….ruins our mental stability. Reading it makes me feel better :)

  100. What an excellent article!! Must read…For girls to follow, families to understand and men to learn…and ofcourse for the hypocritical society to evolve and grow!!
    It’s high time that young girls are educated on these issues, and the unrighteousness. Until women don’t understand and acknowledge that whats happening is wrong they won’t stand up to the bullshit that this society subjects them to. Respect doesn’t mean listening to ur in-laws crap and letting your family down (because ladke walon ki naak unchi hoti hai). Or those lousy traditions by which when a wedding proposal comes along, love or arranged, it is the woman who has to prove that she will be a good homemaker and will keep the groom and his family “happy”. She has to pass through various tests : cooking, singing, walking, mannerism or even worse the ability to carry herself in order to prove her efficiency to be a “great” wife and daughter-in-law. Her height is measured and so is her weight, and so is her domestic skills, and of course her “so called ability” to keep the family together; as if there have not been any disputes in the family before her!!! But someone, just anyone, just ask the groom and his family to give the proof and pass through various tests and guarantee that their daughter/sister will be kept happy after marriage and let’s see how many grooms are ready for that kind of a challenge!! (Of course, the challenge will only be accepted if you are Mallika Sherawat in the Bachelorette.) Why always a woman has to prove her competence to be a good home maker and not a man??? This whole culture is utterly ridiculous….I AM A WOMAN AND NOT A COMMODITY!!
    Finally, I want to add, “I am not the kind of girl who needs a man (support) in her life, but I am the kind of girl who (whose support) a man needs in his life!” GET THIS ATTITUDE WOMEN….

  101. You and my mother should sit down and have a talk… lol. What we have to understand is that the older generation are set in their ways, it’s what they know, what they lived personally. Change is a difficult thing to adapt to, I find that some families are quite modern now. We have a lot more freedom and privileges than before but in the end, the fairy tale is still Shaadi. Don’t shoot me for it but I often compare a Hindu or Pakistani woman’s Independence to Gay Marriage. It’s something we thought impossible in the past but have now come to see it as a viable alternative in the present. I also predict it will become quite common in the future. Slowly but surely we are being seen as a force to be reckoned with and the way to get there is to have strong, passionate women to look up to in our community. I believe that you, Mehreen are one of those women. Great article :)

  102. The BEST post ever I have read.. Too good, but Mehreen whatever the ground realities are…hmy face to krna hi prta hyna yar,agr nakhry dikhaey to kanwary hi marna pry ga.. Lolzzzzzzzzz!

    Keep writing with doodles,

  103. Agreed mostly, BUT…

    I disagree on the commercial thing.
    It simply says “naye ghar ko challi” which means “going to a new home.”
    Doesn’t say anything about a “real” home. So care to elaborate?

  104. Good points :) however “shaadi” is considered a big deal because most women
    strive to obtain their “identity” from it. Thats why they change their last name when
    they get married. In addition, individualism is not looked upon too kindly in our society
    when it comes to women; therefore a happy women is a married women( no other alternative).
    When your social recognition is based ultimately on whom you marry then your own
    personal achievements become irrelevant; this all stems from a paternalisitc mentality where
    a male heads the family because he is the main bread winner; the only way this mentality can
    be reversed is when women themselves starting earning and become an earning member of society. Then only can her social status not solely be based on her marital status.

  105. Impressive !!! Mehreen I personally think we girls have to stand up for ourselves as if we won’t, no one else will …. I was pretty out loud about not getting married when I wasn’t ready but now MashAllah I am and happy in my life though I don’t want to have kids, as to me it’s a great responsibility & I don’t think I am ready for it but that’s the huge problem with my family/friends because for them you are not a complete woman if you don’t have kids :O I just can’t take it, I am a very strong person so I usually used to say things out loud that it’s my life but now I simply ignore but all I really want if everyone can mind their own Fucking business & stop fingering you on the subjects you don’t want to talk or do not want to discuss.

    Stay blessed !

  106. Good writing but you are only stating the obvious and expecting adults (who probably wount even read this) to change thier mind set . Marriage is an important part of any society (weather it be religious or not). It gives structure and balance to the human life. The only reason for these traditions in our society is because we are highly influenced from the indian culture. We are an islamic country with no islamic values.
    Yes marriage is sunnah, but following the sunnah of our Prophet SAWW completes our dean. “And obey Allah and His Messenger so you may be shown mercy” Al’Imran 3:132. Further, i will quote part of a Hadith from Muslim- ” He the Prophet SAWW asked, ‘what has happened to these people who say such and such, where as i observe the prayer and sleep too; i observe fast and obstrain (from fasting); i also marry women. And he who turns away from my sunnah, he has no relation with me”

    This does not apply to the person who cannot get married, but rather to the person who thinks that celibacy is better than marriage.
    http://www.onislam.net/english/ask-about-islam/ethics-and-values/muslim-character/166329-marriage-is-the-prophets-sunnah.html

    I just wanted to correct your statment about marriage not being a part of our religion. So since that is established, we now need to understand that Allah has given us through His Prophet SAWW the proper way of a marriage. It is a simple nikkah walima event. There are set duties for men and women. And thier is no concept of a dowry. We do have the concept of a Mahr ( comes from the husband).
    I think we just need to decied who we are, Indian influenced individuals or Muslims. Once u establish that, you follow that way solely. You can’t pick and chose and make a new concept and except people to understand and adobt it.

    May Allah forgive me if i have stated anything wrong.

  107. I completely agree with you. This servile and subjugation has to stop somewhere. Our daughters should not have an inkling of the rotten attitude that many have towards women in the present day and age. People like us have to lead the change. Loved your article puts so many things onto perspective. For example the other day many of my so called educated friends had no issues doing the karva chauth, somehow believing that is somehow good for ones health. Common pass on the rubbish please, we are actually not only subjugated we are now believing that shit is good for us. If it is so good why does nt everybody in the house do it. So I digress, loved the post and the cartoon(;)), keep em coming!

  108. Kudos to the writer. I wish i could write that well ! A lot of people here are suggesting that all girls in pakistan must read it but let me tell you, even if they did, it would be like its written in Chinese. they won’t get it. i am a 23 year old girl who is an engineer and believe me I knew so many girls in college who used to love being objectified by these rishta aunties. They grew up dreaming of the day when this tall, ‘fair’ and handsome (and rich) stranger will come over for having tea at her place. To them all these rishta parades are fun events to dress up. Even in an engineering school, girls used to say that they are studying to get an engineering degree so they can bag a great rishta. 80% of them had no intention of working and building up a career. Women in Pakisan are freakin’ insane about shadi !

  109. Mehreen, I love your articles always, but this particular commentary is frankly no longer valid for the most part. It would have been all-relevant 10 years ago, but nowadays, Pakistani urban society has changed to the extent that we have a new set of matrimonial issues altogether. For instance, divorce is no longer the big deal that it was; girls are no longer sacrificial lambs in arranged marriages; and parents are no longer that keen to chuck daughters out of the house now that family sizes are so reduced. Racism and materialism though, are still very much intact. And that goes for both sides; I’ve known plenty of girls too who want well-earning good-looking guys settled abroad with little concern for mental compatibility or understanding.

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