Due to technological and scientific advancements, the world has become a global village with blurred boundaries, broadened perspectives, better cross cultural and environmental understanding. Does this further change anything? It should. It should change the views of parents regarding the big question of the lives of their daughters and sons. The question of whose prerogative it is to decide about the future spouse should be brought into light. Time has changed and so have the requirements and all this definitely has to do with the civic development of people’s lives in Pakistan.
In different strata of society, there has been an effort to utilize the resources and move up the ladder of economic, social and intellectual growth since the Independence. In this struggle, social reframing coupled with geographical restructuring due to migration caused by educational and professional motives, has taken place. This has led to a disconnected family system where family members are working far from home. The home is no more chirryan da chamba, chirray and chirrian have already flown from the nest long before they were meant to. What does this situation lead to? Suddenly, many heers and ranjhas sprung up to make their love eternal while being completely oblivious of how to do it. While these lovebirds and their stories fuel multi-billion industries of movies, dramas and beauty products, the two shareef khandaan kay bachay bearing the burden of log kya kahain gay are left in commotion of distress, not knowing whether to disavow their family or compromise their desire of marrying their love of life.
The situation takes different shapes. Sometimes, they quarrel with their parents and society, finally ending up marrying their ‘love of life’ and coming face to face with the problem of ab kia karna hay? Though the scenario cannot be generalized to every context, nor does it imply that love marriages lead to disasters, yet in the case under consideration, our lovebirds might have thought that everything was going to be OK because they had found each other but this is not how life works. The economic pressures, moving up the ladder of success, the ‘new’ challenges of married life, sometimes, lead marriages to fall apart, leaving scars of unfortunate events that can be read in daily newspapers. Some commit suicide; others drag life till the end. Another scenario involves living an abnormal life after giving up and sacrificing their desires in accordance with their families’ demands. Such compromises and repressed desires, in Freudian terms, keep recurring in various forms, interfering with the choices and decisions made in the life ahead and making life miserable.
Parents, in this scenario, succumbing to the values of traditional family systems, feel aggrieved, stunned and bewildered. The perplexities of life in a digi-modern era usually break them apart.
Soap operas in Pakistan are filled with Saas Bahu kay jhagray, containing a whole chunk of family politics. While it teaches the new generation deadly tips and tricks of getting their wishes fulfilled; it also creates an air of confusion among the youngsters when they do a gap analysis of what is real and what is fictional. Moreover, the fairy-tale like charm associated with marriage has vanished away due to anticipating this post-marriage-jhagra-culture.
Aristotle considered the element of fire as a triggering force behind human growth. Desire and will have many forms and choreographing them has led us to where we stand now. Will needs to be channelized properly for social prosperity; and for this purpose parents and youngsters need to play their part. On the one hand, it should be understood that restricting youngsters from marrying the person of their choice, causing hindrances on the pretext of caste and causing disputes between the couple lead to complexities of life in the process of which, many families are destroyed. While on the other extreme, youngsters should realize that life is not a fairy tale and they essentially need to develop a sense of responsibility and moral courage to admit and accept their limitations. Some of them are spoon-fed everything and others are self-made heroes and heroines of their own stories. Both parents and youngsters need to evolve through a mutually understandable and harmonious process in order to come at peace with the decision of marriage.
Arranged marriages are the norm in Pakistan and anyone who does not conform to it is considered khudsar or baghi. It was not a bad idea a few decades ago and still holds prestige if it is made according to the concerned person’s choice and will. As due to men and women studying and working together, social structure has changed, so instead of generating frustration and agony, it must be well understood by parents and youngsters alike that the plight of modern people has set in motion a chain of events that is different from what was the case when people were living close together. They had simple tasks at hand, everybody knew others, they had different castes and everybody knew about good, bad and the ugly of every caste. Now, the question of caste has become completely irrelevant and we need to put off the garb of Hindu traditions.
Children should be treated as individuals participating in the decisions made for them and taking responsibility for what they decide in order to avoid any havoc. Parents should keep on providing support in whatever way they like (This includes counseling). Secondly, the role and choices of women must not be neglected. They are living like creatures who have no opinion of their own and are subject to whatever their patrons decide about them. Islam gives equal rights to women who are as much responsible for creating a better world as are men. Heritage is still denied to women in Pakistan and this oppression is from the beloved parents who burn their soul to collect money for their daughter’s jahaez (as this is what the society demands). If youngsters are given responsibility of their own lives, families support the newly-wed couple in living a peaceful life, will of women too is taken into account, the unnecessary burden of dowry is not put on parents’ shoulders, we can hope for a better future and a healthier society.