For those of you who have not seen the TV mini-series Downton Abbey (either online or on PBS), you are truly missing out. It takes place in England (who isn’t slightly obsessed/fascinated with English accents? I mean if you’re not already English), there are plenty of characters to root for and hate, the storyline is extremely well-written, AND it’s set during an incredible time period. The first season starts off with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and so far has spanned through World War I.
I love watching period dramas/movies. This may seem surprising since (being brown and all) I should probably just be reminded of colonialism and imperialism when watching these storylines. But that would make me “bitter” and ” too sensitive” and lacking in a sense of humor. And no one who wants to be cool, aspires to be these things. But honestly, I just can’t help it. I feel a strong connection to the female characters in stories like Pride and Prejudice, Wives and Daughters, Persuasion or really any Jane Austen novel. And that’s because my life is like all these dramas.
It’s funny how Pakistani society is so much like Downton. Older women or aunties, as we brown people like to call them, are on a mission to find a husband for every eligible single girl. Mothers are incapable of sleeping at night until all their daughters are married. You do one scandalous thing, your reputation is ruined. Yes, that’s right. Talking or laughing while using too many facial expressions with a guy? Scandal. Going up and talking to a guy you don’t know at a wedding? Scandal. Taking too much dessert on your plate at a dinner party? Scandal. Talking about sex, even if it is for educational purposes that could aid in population control? Scandal.
But really, it’s all with good intentions. Can they help it? These aunties were raised with these ideals ingrained in their minds at birth. It just doesn’t seem right to stray away from this golden image of propriety. I admit, it’s really funny sometimes to even have a conversation with these aunties. The smallest things scandalize them. “What is that woman doing?!” “Cleaning up her dog’s poop…? I swear, it’s the law. She has to.” “My God…..”
However, it’s only amusing to a certain point. When I turned 18, all of a sudden the aunties’ eyes were all on me. They would ask my mother, “Have you started looking for a husband for her yet?” Thankfully, my mother gave them a rather disgusted look back and politely replied, “No. She’s a bit young.” End of conversation (if only it would have lasted).
When I turned 19: “You’re so pretty now! But make sure not to gain any weight. No one likes fat girls.”
When I turned 20: “Ohhh you’ll be graduating soon, won’t you?” *wink wink nudge nudge*
The week of my commencement: “I found the perfect husband for you. He’s a doctor!”
6 months after graduation: “Your only hope now is to find a good husband in grad school. Make sure to apply to all the schools with the highest percentage of Pakistani boys”
You must be joking.
And the strangest part about all of this is the fact that talking to or about the opposite gender has been so taboo my whole life, but now that I’ve reached that certain age, I’m suddenly supposed to know how to find a man for myself?! This is impossible. I don’t even know how to talk to guys, let alone pick one up and marry him.
My idea for a conversation starter: Heyy I like your shoes…*nervous laugh* Do you listen to Michael Jackson?
Despite how ridiculous the words that come out of these aunties’ mouths are, I do recognize that it’s all out of love. It comes down to one thing: my family wants me to be happy. And they can’t help it if in their mind, happiness is achieved when you’ve found someone to marry, someone who will be your companion for the rest of your life, someone who will be there for you once they are gone. So I really don’t mind if I have an entire network of aunties working hard to try and find a husband for me. Who am I to stop them if they want to present a range of men on a silver platter for me to pick and choose from? Psshht who’s got time to “meet people” anyway?
Perspective, my friends, it’s all about perspective. Life’s not too bad once you look at it from a different angle.