Don't dream, when you can't make it real. They're only fictions anyway - Moddi, A Sense of Grey

Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance, in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance, when you're perfectly free - Rumi

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Jan 24, 2012

Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Peace

So for the past month life had been sort of getting back on track. My job was going well, my cousins were in town so I was having a great time with the family and it had been an overall smooth transition into the new year. 
And then, as though the universe suddenly woke up from its slumber after the shit-throwing festival that was the last half of 2011, it sent over another sack of shit, personally packed and all with the message "fool" written in large letters across it.
I never joke about shit

Now considering how ours is a mostly 'arranged marriage' culture, the fact that our parents let us watch a lot of Disney while we grew up results in an all out battle of the generations when it comes to the question of getting hitched. 
A week or so ago, my mother, who had given me a two month break from this whole marriage fiasco, had decided that enough was enough. She would do everything in her power to marry off her one daughter before her eggs dried up. But she knew she would have to be cautious about it considering that I was still very emotionally distraught after the recent break up. She would have to be sensitive, she would have to approach me with caution. "We have to go meet this guy and his family. You need to get married."
See. Caution.
Frankly, I did not have the energy to argue with my mother and explain to her how I wasn't quite ready yet because its a phrase her generation was clearly not taught as they were growing up. 
Anyway, I said sure and I think that really surprised my mom because she looked ready for a full-fledged melt down. So she bought me a chocolate chip cookie because I was such a good girl. 
Then I made the mistake of bothering to find out about this guy who my mom had picked out for me to spend the rest of my life with.
Here is how the conversation went
"What's his name?"
My eyes popped out. A boy named Ali? That is just so rare. No really. A Shia boy named Ali; how often does that happen?
"What does he do?"
"He's a chartered accountant"
*Blank Stare*
As an after thought "He makes a lot of money"
Now mom's have this ability to pick up on when their daughters aren't exactly impressed. Maybe its the rolling of the eyes, I don't really know.
"Shareef Khandaan hai"
That basically translates into "Family doesn't do drugs, drink, gamble, womanize, etc"
*Blank Stare*
"What more do you want?" Mom started getting defensive now. Notice how I'm silent? 
"You're not exactly the Princess of Wales!"
No argument there. 
"Ami, I said I'd meet him. What are you getting so worked up about?"
At this point my mom just stormed out of the room. 
Anyway, a couple of days later his aunt called and arranged a meeting at her house. 
A few hours before the meeting, I had a break down because well, it's the kind of thing girls do when they don't know what else to do. I called up my best friend for comfort and complained about how much this sucked and how this month was supposed to mean entirely something else and how much men sucked and how my parents hated me and wanted  me to suffer and never be happy and once all the frustration was out, I went to get dressed.
Now, we got to this aunts house and she was all nice and welcoming. We settled down, spoke about random stuff and then the guy showed up. One word. UNCOMFORTABLE.
He came and sat down and there was a few minutes of absolute silence. Then everyone started talking at once. I didn't want to be rude, but I mean, what do you say to a prospective guy you're meeting for the first time while everyone in the room is looking at you?
So I stared at my coffee cup and answered the questions I was asked.
But the best/worst part was when the guy and I were left on our own to get to know each other.
The poor guy looked even more out of place than I felt. 
The conversation with the usual "so what do you do?"
I always have trouble with this question. What do I do? Its just so vague. What do I do for a living? What do I do for fun? What do I do when I'm tired? What do I do if something wants to eat me? Which one is it?!
I work.
I read.
I watch t.v.
I exercise.
I sleep.
I write.
I eat.
I poop.

I mean, which one was the correct answer?

The guy was so nervous, he'd giggle in the middle of the conversation and it took every muscle of my body to tighten up so that I would not spit out my coffee.

And so it went on for another 20 minutes. Now, here's what he does. Or rather, doesn't do.

He does not read.
He does not play sports.
He does not watch television.
He does not listen to music.
He does not travel (except for work).
He hardly goes out with friends.

And that's alright. Maybe he's the perfect guy for some girl who doesn't do any of these things. To me, that is a big deal breaker. These are all of the things I want in someone who I would want to be with for the rest of my life. I know I'm coming off as a tad bit stuck up. Okay, maybe a great deal stuck up. I don't know. Frankly, I don't care. I can't be with a person who is okay with doing nothing except work. I don't know his circumstances too well to make a judgement, but I still did not feel any connection there or discover anything that might mean this could be a successful marriage.
You'd think, okay, you didn't like the guy. Move on.
Except my mother, to whom none of this made sense. We had our first fight over this today and thankfully, dad stayed out of it. To my mother, all that a person needs to be eligible is a degree, a good job and a good family background. I think its probably the same for a lot of Pakistani parents.To them its okay if the guy has zero personality because we'll be too busy shopping with his money and going to tea parties to spend much time with him anyway.
Obviously, we are. That's not even a question. However, I'd still like a guy with whom I can have heated political debates and discuss literature and discover the world. Maybe even make babies. Who knows? The world is full of surprises.
Either way, I think I'll sit here and wait for my Prince Charming, thank you very much.


  1. Oh God. This is me. I have had THE SAME EXPERIENCE with a guy named Ali plus the mom scene.

  2. your Prince Charming will find you soon enough...

    its good to see there are girls out there who actually want a person, not a CV...

  3. Tell me about it Maryam. With one exception, every guy I have met, his name was Ali. Not that it isn't a great name, but come ON!

    aB: I hope you are right. Glad to help you keep your faith in humanity :P

  4. Here I thought that this sort of thing was still a thing of the past. How ignorant of me.

    Regardless, "Never give up! Never surrender!"
    Don't ever let anyone decide how you should live your life. Not even family.

    1. Oh this is so not a thing of the past!
      And I know, it's a constant fight. So exhausted of it!

  5. oh my god, A, i just went through this. same thing: 'why do you need to converse with him? all you have to do is have sex and produce babies!' uff! you have my sympathies love. and hang in there.

    1. Man! This is just so tiresome now. At first, it used to amuse me. Now, it's just ...when will this END!

  6. I dont know how I stumbled across this, but some day, I will write the guy's perspective of this story....believe me its equally tiresome for us!

  7. Oh, and very well written BTW

    1. :) Thanks. Haha. And go ahead. It would be interesting to see what the guys go through

  8. i hope the ensuing period has been kinder and you have found prince charming. If so, consider yourself lucky. Unless you agree with and believe in mom's "rishtay asmanon per bantay hain", its such a cruelly random process that you may fail to find the one, EVER, and might meet two perfect ones in a week, only for THEM to reject you!!

    I wish you well, alas i also realize how you have educated and cultured yourself to a point where it can be awfully lonely (at least intellectually) in our society. so maybe try and compromise and even settle for someone with half those attributes (pooping, sleeping and eating aside hehe)

    I can relate to all of it and 3 years down this road i can tell you, UNCOMFORTABLE ain't too bad, don't let it get to the point where it becomes a chore, a empty routine devoid of joy and anticipation.

    And believe me guys are also (if not equally) tormented by this experience. my travails can fill a novel and be more surreal than a garcia marquez haha

    1. Lol. Two perfect ones in a week ;), so perfect you can't make up your mind.
      I feel equally bad for the guys who have to go through this. It has actually become tedious and painful now. Just the thought of these meetings is dreadful and makes me nauseous.
      I think a lot of this is with my own community. They don't consider education, reading etc a very big deal and luckily my family is very different in this regard. So I meet boys who care for nothing but working. It is sad.
      More surreal than a marquez? This I have to read. Why are you anonymous? :P

  9. completely possible, and had i not been lazy i wouldve proved it statistically at a 99% confidence level!!! its never ONLY about YOU making up your mind, else it would have been a breeze.

    well yes... tedious, painful and all that..but is there another option? if not, then, keep your chin up, paste a smile and serve the tea (zehar na day doon? haha) if nothing it can serve as fodder for this blog :)

    Yes maybe, but i think its a more broader issue, and its not just about reading its about THINKING. i read another related entry on ur blog and ill comment on that sometime.

    Yes far more surreal, just like all those arcadios and aurelianos and all the alis :), there have been countless faces that seem to have merged into one entity uttering the same sentences over and over and over again.arggh Ok ill share something i wrote an year ago, nothing surreal but something that youll relate to.

    Whats there in a name...just a few random letters :P

    1. To me, this process is not just mundane. When I meet these people, I can hear a train coming on at full speed, the whistles drowning everything out and all I want is to jump on that train and never come back.

      I'm waiting for you to share it then.

      Fine. I'll just call you Juliet.

    2. bravo!!! 10/10, pls draw a star on your hand, miss!

      Juliet it will be then!! oh romeo!! where art thou!! (no pun intended ;))

      crazy train!! let zoctor zuliet psychoanalyze ze reazon for zees thouths...

      fine i can understand the feeling but looks like you go into these meetings with a closed mind, with your decision already made, so then why even bother? Why hurt someone else who has nothing to do with any of it. Why mar the process for someone who might be coming in with genuine interest and hope? You always imagine the train but never have the courage to board it, so madam maybe its NOT what you want to do but only what you think you want to do. hmmm does that make sense? any of it?

      want me to post it here??

    3. No I just don't WANT to be in these meetings. Closed mind is another chapter altogether.
      How can someone be HURT by this? They might be there with a genuine interest, but they should be prepared for a no as well. And if they're going to get hurt by a simple no by some stranger,they aren't ready for it anyway. Where does hurt come in? I think the word is maybe disappointed.
      And again, this thing is not in my control. My mom does whatever she wants, regardless of what I tell her. So let the blame rest where it should.
      And Juliet, the point is, I shouldn't be forced into a situation where I feel the need to board a train.
      Sure go ahead.

    4. Then DON'T be in them. I mean you can put that time to far better use elsewhere :P Yes mom wants it to be otherwise but what's the use if you aren't ready..or do you go in hoping that maybe this time it might be different? And, NO, you have to share the blame with mom because you CAN put a stop to it but you don't want to, whatever the reason may be, secret hope, filial duty or whatever.

      Yes hurt is maybe too harsh a word but still i think its not right if you go in with your mind already made up.and yes NO ONE, NO ONE should be forced, but you should also try not to go along with what you think is wrong.

      Ok ill post something, after reading the last , ill try to reenact a dialogue between mom and A. (diluted and censored hehe)

    5. "DON'T be in them..." Easier said than done. When I have been able to, I have put my foot down. But my mother will do what she wants.
      You don't really know or understand my family dynamics so I can understand that a cliched "you can do what you want" statement was made. But things aren't that simple.
      Secret hope. That is kind of funny. No I have no secret hopes. I honestly just want to be left alone for now.
      I tried to make one relationship work, it didn't work out. So now I just want mom to back off. If she will be stubborn enough to keep inviting those families over, that is her problem. Not mine. I'll just keep saying no.
      And on that note, let's let this go.

    6. No its absolutely no cliched "you can". I cant claim to understand exactly but i do know about the pressures and its not right, lets just say i have even been the victim of these.

      Yeah i guess we should let it be...GOOD LUCK lady!! i sincerely hope it works out for you. But at least quit being miserable!! again easier said than done.

  10. A.!!!! kahan ho bhaeee?
    When mom decided to call someone she rarely bothered about the laws of physics. Her calls invariably gravitated between a shrill shriek and a roar irrespective of the addressee's distance or situation.
    I had been ignoring her for a minute but experience dictated that it was dangerous to push her any further when she overcame ozzy's monotonous cawing at full volume. i rubbed my eyes, reduced the volume of my laptop and removed the headphones... "think i'll lose my mind if i don't find something to pacify".
    "Jeeeeeeeee bolain!!!" i roared back at the top of my lungs.
    "Cheekh kiyon rahee ho? " came the prompt and predictable reply.
    "ghalti hogayee" i rolled my eyes, pushed myself off the bed and walked into the living room.
    Mom was sitting on the sofa, cradling her 'precious brown diary' which was the reason of my present distress. the black cordless phone lying by her side sparkled with perspiration and looked like it had just somehow survived murder by strangulation.
    "whats the matter?"
    "mrs B. called!!" her face beamed with the usual expectation that preceded all such discussions.
    "so what's new ?"
    "teen larkay bataye hain" she opened the diary and rattled off three names, her smile widening an inch for each of them. I thanked God there were only three.
    "hmmmmm, achay naam hain. but haven't we already met this last one?"
    "No!,that, was ali khan. This, is ali ahmad"
    "and the difference is..." i muttered under my breath
    "oh nothing. so whats the plan?"
    "we'll meet"
    "is that a question?"
    "what do you think?"
    "well ok, ill let you know then"
    "Do i need to repeat myself?"
    "I know you never do that"
    "Sahee hai mat jao" her face started flushing, and i relented far before it could match the color of the sofa she was sitting on, which was a pretty subpar effort given my usual "nafarmani".
    "But i dont have any good clothes. Let me get them laundered first" I played my last card.
    "I already had them laundered. Ghar ka koi kam karo to pata chalay. You just don't appreciate my efforts" Her expressions transformed seamlessly from beaming at having trumped me to those of a miserable housewife crushed by the weight of her work.
    I lowered my head in defeat and shuffled back to my room.

    1. HAHAHA! Okay that was funny, That is not how our talks go. We dont talk we fight. Argue. Scream. Throw things. Mom cries. Doors are slammed.
      That was funny though.

    2. ok maybe i'll modify it, throw in some finger wagging, door slamming, loud cursing pyrotechnics and change it to something like a michael bay production of "mainay shadee nai karni!!!" hahah