Myths and Ironies of an Arranged Marriage- 1

1) The Pretty Obligation
If you are conventionally pretty: ie if you have any or more of the following features:
1) fairness
2) thin
3) sharp nose
4) ‘coloured’ eyes ( aren’t all eyes coloured?)
5) ‘coloured’ hair

or any features that are associated with the people who colonised us, then you have the grave responsibility on society and your community as a whole:

Get married!
what about all those poor girls who haven’t been bestowed with these features and these godly looks? how can you reject ‘good’ proposals at the tender age of 17 ( when legally, you aren’t allowed to… operate a vehicle. donate blood. get a tattoo. skydive. rent an apartment. Okay, you get the picture.) when other people cannot?

It is your god bestowed duty on your face, waist size, good education and conventionally beautiful features to get hitched quickly. It is almost like the time when you waste food and your parents rebuke you, giving you the example of other kids your age who don’t get their daily bread without an effort. While that example is valid, the same analogy cannot be applied anywhere.

Me, getting married/ engaged to the first foreign degree holding, fairly good looking ( doesn’t matter if I’m attracted to the other person or not, looks hold a valid place only in the boy’s criteria) , bonus if he is an only child, bonus if he doesn’t have any siblings… honestly i think, the best person to get married to in our community is an orphan. This is the obligation upon me, by patriarchy itself. 🙂





These are the same people who tell young, married woman to quickly pop out kids like nothing, giving references to people who unfortunately cannot have kids. As if one cancels out or aids the other in some weird manner.

2) The Education Equilibrium:

Now now, my most favourite math.

In South Asian society, surprisingly even now, exist some communities wherein a girl’s education is like the sweet zaika of a dish, very tailor made, and if you don’t switch off the cooker at the right time, there goes the dish.

Similarly, a girl who’s getting educated is GREAT! ( boys want educated girls these days, no?”)
And how can the girl not finish her graduation? How will her future kids gain admission in the top notch, high end, almost brand name worthy schools if she’s not even a graduate?

Basically, a girl’s education is used for two things: her husband, and her children. Anything for herself is not allowed unless she’s engaged to be married and her husband supports her.



If her husband supports her career: ( this could be in something unconventional, rather than what everyone seems to be doing/ or that is socially acceptable and common)

…then you guessed it. He’s whipped/ simp/ ‘joru ka gulaam’/ etc. Or he could be, you know, broke. 🙂


3) The C-Word
Indian Matchmaking on Netflix has thankfully highlighted a very significant word attached to the arrange marriage scenario in India- or South Asian culture- compromise.

Now it is a given fact that in any relationship, or for any relationship to work- ( this does not even apply to only romantic relationships, it applies to ALL relationships, be it friendship, the one you have with your parents, siblings, coworkers, etc) compromise is an omnipresent quality, whether done intentionally or even done habitually.

That is not the issue. That, my friends, is obvious.

The issue arises when the minute the proposal arrives, and the first advice that is given is compromise. Compromise, honestly, is OVERRATED. Yeah there, I said it.


So are ‘sacrifices’ or any other word that has a hero complex attached to it.


And here, I’ll tell you why- any human being- one who genuinely wants a relationship to work or form in the first place- naturally- and almost organically compromises whatever they can- that is, whatever is most convenient to them, or whatever that they can afford to compromise on- without compromising their value, self respect ( for some, sadly, even self respect is worth compromising on) and for some, ego. ( likewise, some don’t even compromise on their ego. Sadly. 🙂)

In many cases wherein arrange marriages are bound to happen, that godforsaken word is the first thing uttered by many uncles and aunties. It’s a bit like google ad marketing. You utter ‘marriage’, and there it is, first in the search results. Showing up in the instagram/facebook ads. Popping up on pinterest. And you sit there, confused and horrified as to how everyone- EVERYONE in the south asian community knows the same love language. (arranged marriage language?).


This applies mostly to women ( fire me for it all you want- but this is dished out mostly to women first.) Not that it isn’t to men- but at a much lesser scale.


And also because for centuries- women empowerment has been a conversation, slowly progressing. However the sneakiest things misogynists have done is to mask the idea of a forever ‘ sacrificing’,/ ‘compromising’ women in to the realm of women empowerment itself- almost hailing them into a superhuman form- which is actually NOT woman empowerment. *gasp*!

Yeah no, it is a sneaky way of making women guilty, and setting such high standards for them . It is a way of infusing a hero complex, a sacrifice complex in them so that they keep their needs after everyone else’s anyway, believing its the herioc thing to do. Believing that just because the process of childbirth and rearing is dolled out to them by nature, their entire life has to be only about that- sacrifice. And nothing else. It is to keep them into servitude, and to keep the odds out of their favour anyway, only with a little manipulation, and a few gaslighting techniques.

Drifted there a bit, but that’s precisely what happens.

Does that mean you don’t have to compromise? No.

It just means that human beings- are very naturally gifted at figuring out the pros and cons of a particular proposal all by themselves- if they know themselves well. They know exactly what they can tolerate, what they like, dislike, love, hate, etc.

A logical and rational person will give up the few things he can absolutely live without, only to acquire a few things that he cannot imagine without living. Microeconomics- anyone?


Now think of these things not as material things, but human behaviour and traits. Think- romantic, spendthrift, penny pinchers, rude, arrogant, nice, altruistic, rational, dreamers, extrovert, introvert, geeks, nerds, readers, do-ers. Innumerable choices, yet we have specifics for alot of these.


My point? You will most likely, naturally compromise on the things you can afford to, if presented with the other idealistic things suited to your tastes.

And so it is just important for you to figure out either, or both of the two:

1) What you absolutely want.
2) What you absolutely don’t want.

Yes, mathematically, it’s as simple as that. And then you take in your gut feelings, instincts, values and all of that.

And the next time any uncle or aunty, without you asking them to, doles out the C-word, ask them with the most innocent expression you can muster, whether they will be willing to compromise on *gasp*! – caste. 🤔

Ha. Gotcha.

There will be a part two. ( Jokes on you if you thought it just ends here🤷)

I will also try and incorporate the a man’s perspective in the second part, for representation purposes. Stay tuned!

A pandemic day

maids screaming at eachother
aunt screaming at maid
grandmother muttering under her breath
two birds quacking for food
one woman holding her tummy pouch complaining of her flabby skin, hanging loosely over her waist
pressure cookers whistle, a timely metaphor to my brain
children blasting a song, oblivious to noise, like children
heartbeat quickening, lump in my throat
this is what they call sensory overload

mom sending prayers for fate
somehow only sent to girls
boys carry their own fate in their own scrolls
mine, solely based upon the red font on my mothers whatsapp chat
a box with biscuit crumbs, consumed by god knows who
the tingling of nonexistent ants felt on my skin
bed crumpled like a dirty tissue
dull rooms and duller minds
death outside the four walls
brain dead inside akin

five different prayer calls for peace
peace comes in different flavours
peace seasoned with hell for your sect
with heaven mine

chest tightens, warning of exercise
fight or flight movement activated forever
cigarette on my veranda
minty breaths and darkened lungs
my body hiding a physical depression of its own
dark marks on my lips a sign of unkept sanity

lockdown in our houses
akin to our minds

a pandemic rages outside this window
i barely know of
hate, one I’ve known forever
takes precedence over every disease

rain seeping through that broken window
lighter hidden behind the curtain
fire and water, contrasting elements
blurred lines, the shape of glass

the angel of death comes outside my window every night
forever amused
death outside these four walls
the brain dead sleeping in

Quotes That Made Me Feel Something

1.

“Truth is stranger than fiction, after all” – random book I read in 2017

2.

“Paper is more patient than people” – Anne Frank

3.

“You can tell me to shut up, but you cannot stop me from having an opinion”- Anne Frank

4.

” I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.” – Anne Frank

5.

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank

6.

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God.” – Anne Frank

7.

“I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.” – Anne Frank

8.

“The young are not afraid of telling the truth. ” – Anne Frank

9.

“Never forget what you are, the rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor and it can never be used to hurt you.” – Tyrion Lannister

10.

“I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples and bastards and broken things.” – Tyrion Lannister

11.

“It’s not easy being drunk all the time. If it were easy, everyone would do it.”- Tyrion Lannister

12.

“If we want the rewards of being loved, we have to submit to the mortifying ordeal of being known” – Tim Krieder

13.

“No need to seize the last word, Lord Baelish. I’ll assume it was something clever.” – Sansa Stark

14.

“It’s where all the maps stop. That’s where I’m going.” – Arya Stark

15.

“It seems to me that a queen who trusts no one is as foolish as a queen who trusts everyone.” – Daenerys Targaryen

16.

“Our fathers were evil men, all of us here. They left the world worse than they found it. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to leave the world better than we found it.” – Daenerys Targaryen

17.

” I am no ordinary woman. My dreams come true.” – Daenerys Targaryen

18.

“You are the ocean,
Lush and extravagant.
But my dear,
What is a tsunami
To a thirsty man?”

  • Nicole Ruth

Everything I love.

1) The mountains. The hills. Any hills. Going to a place only to discover a new place, a new hill, a new picnic spot, a new river, a new tree. Bonus points if I get to take someone and make them discover beauty in the most underrated places.

New place I discovered in 2018, behind the bungalow in Panchgani. We went further enough to see a new lake, a whole vision that was breathtakingly beautiful. Purple and white wild flowers, green anywhere the eyes placed their gaze.

2) Taking a new picture of someone for them to look back at and be happy at their existence.

3) Photography, of the most mundane objects. I ‘focus’ on something other than me, and see beauty in the most raw forms.

4) Holding animals, any animal. Becoming life long friends.

The most adorable pup I found in Sentosa, Singapore. All the love to him.

5) Writing, because it’s better to have an actual diary than a human diary. 🌸

A dear friend gifted this diary to me at a time where I couldn’t need it more. I remember her everytime I see it. 💙

6) Hard cover books with actual photographs in them. Digital will never be the same.

7) Did I mention wildflowers? I love love love wildflowers.

🍀

8) Climbing trees. Nuff’ said. I cannot explain to you why I love that.

9) Christmas lights. Obsessed. Need I say more?

Lebanon, November’18

Did you Just Say the F-Word?

Feminism.

There it is. This is the new ‘F’ word, the unspoken one, the one that raises eyebrows, judgements, and is this close to being a slur.

I have battled with this word for a long time. I was always, a feminist in that regard, but I never labelled myself as one. Until the time I was 14/15 years old, I didn’t even know this word.

Yet, I identified with the emotion it bought along earlier.
The emotion, can be described in various sentences-:
“This is wrong?”
This doesn’t seem okay?”
“This doesn’t…make..that much sense?”

Notice I’ve put a question mark behind all of those sentences.
It’s because what didn’t seem okay to me then, as an 8 year old, as a 12 year old, and eventually all the time when I entered my teenage years was something that seemed normal to everyone around me.

The rage, confusion and utter shock I felt at some things happening around me was not reciprocated by anyone else.

Like the time I heard my fellow classmate being grossly objectified by a group of boys, their usual, ‘harmless’, locker room talk that made my stomach feel sick.

Or the time a girl I absolutely didn’t get along with posted a picture with a bra strap hanging out, skin showing, and everyone in her comment section slut shamed her left, right and centre. When I defended her, albiet being a fairly covered Muslim woman myself, I was laughed upon as if what just happened was no big deal.

Or the time I heard people around me speak about how women aren’t allowed to work in Islam, ( something I was severely confused about, because to me, it didn’t match the essence of Islam- empowerment of every individual regardless of who they are.)

I eventually found out that what most people speak about in relation to Islam is inherently their culture, their beliefs, and their thought processes that magically become a part of a religion that billions across the world follow, and therefore interpret differently.

It could also be the time when we girls weren’t allowed to play football, and our sports teacher with an admirable amount of confidence, remarked, “Ya so girls don’t play football and cricket?!”

🥴🥴🥴🥴🥴.

It could be the time when my friend and I went for a casual stroll in the green field of our school, only for a teacher to remark how we were just there for the boys.

It could be the time when once, during a school function, backstage, somehow my bra strap peeked out ( Ah, The Legend of the Bra Strap) and a teacher, with all the judgement she could muster in her voice, sarcastically asked me who I was flaunting that for.

It could be the time I saw a distant relative repeatedly remark how a certain male was ‘baila’ ( transgender) because he cried.

Or because he defended his wife for something.
Or because he was scared of something.
Or because he did anything that my relatives’ toxic masculinity did not agree with.

It could be the number of times I had to correct my younger sister when she thought only girls could be nurses, only boys doctors, and she was visibly confused when a male tuition teacher showed up at our place once. Still, she took him to be a scientist.

It could be the time when I saw people justifying domestic abuse in movies.

I state real, small incidents here, if you notice. I don’t state the rapes. I don’t state the statistics, or the surveys. I don’t remark about the rage after the Nirbhaya case, the documentary in which her rapists nonchalantly justified her mutilation because she happened to be out at a late hour.

I will not get into that. You already know that. You’re probably numb to it by now.

I will, address to the best of my ability, questions, and remarks that most people have about feminism. Ready? It’s going to be a long read.

Remark 1– Feminism, has ‘fem’ in it, so it means women are greater than men. Why not call it equalism instead?

While no question is a bad question, this one I am particularly not fond of. If linguistics had to be taken into consideration then there are a number of terms that wo’men’ are associated with that could be termed as unfair. Also, isn’t this like, really petty?

Remark 2- Feminism means that a man and a woman are equal ( by the dictionary definition) and so it means there is no difference between a man or a woman.

Linguistics, or the lack of the understanding thereof, comes into the picture again. Equal does not mean identical. Biologically, yes, men and women are different. Sometimes, that translates into temporary psychological differences between both genders. An average man IS stronger than a woman. An average woman, due to her hormonal differences, IS more emotional than a man. Both these rules are generally ( and even, generously) applied.
But as goes in everything with human behaviour, there is NO law. Human behaviour is not physics. We cannot draft 3 laws that are applied universally with no exceptions here.

Also, just because an average woman is more emotional than an average man, does not cancel out the fact that the average man is emotional nevertheless. The presence of something greater in someone doesn’t equate to the complete absence of it in another.

Phew. Complicated, right?

Here is an analogy.

Bob and John are two human beings. Bob has full blown emotional breakdowns. John is an inwardly emotional person who cannot cry at the drop of the hat. Yet, he does sometimes.

Bob is an extremely emotional plus expressive person.
John, however, is just less emotional.

And maybe, 10 years down the line, the roles reverse and John will be a crying, blubbering mess. Who knows?

Also, have you ever thought about the repercussions of not letting men express their feelings adequately? Did you know

that today, men are most prone to committing suicide? That men on an average basis feel more lonely as compared

to women? Did you know that when an individual is not healthily channelling their emotions, those are bound to come up in a more drastic, voilent, manner? ( Domestic Voilence, anyone?)

Remark 3- Feminists hate all men. And, they have daddy issues.

Okaaaay no. While I do, sometimes, have daddy issues ( don’t we all?) , that does not translate to my nonexisting universal hatred towards a whole gender.

There is a word for that. It’s called misandry, and it’s as bad as patriarchy. I do not endorse it.

Remark 4– How can you be a muslim and a feminist at the same time?

This is a complicated one.
In Islam, women are supposed to be covered and lower their gaze.
In Islam, men are supposed to be covered and lower their gaze.

The degree of covering differs in both the genders.

Some may argue that I cannot endorse women choosing what to do with their bodies while at the same time being a feminist.

I do not agree. I believe that Allah’s commands are an obligation upon every person, one that I will soon, inshAllah, follow myself.

However, I do not feel the need to control what another person does with their life. I do not feel the need to school them, rebuke them, or judge them on the basis of that. I do feel the need to advise my Muslim friends when they ask me, or when I genuinely am concerned. I do that with no judgement and a whole lot of discretion. Also, feminism is not only limited to a woman’s clothes. What a women wears, although does seem to become a bottom line of every discussion, however irrelevant.

I will agree that a great amount issues raised by modern feminism are not a part of Islam. How do I justify that?

A feminist- on the core, believes that men and women both deserve equal celebral opportunity, are equal in their stature. Gender roles are not a seal on the personality of every individual nor their lifestyle.

Islam believes that as well, to an extent. Islam was the first code of conduct established for men and women in their treatment towards eachother, at a time where western countries were still debating whether women are actually humans or not. Prophet Mohammed, SA- at the time of his death, said “Be good to women.”

I also believe that everyone’s idea of feminism/ gender equality is different, ( other than the core, of course.)

Think of it this way. Lots of people around the world now, categorize Islam as an oppressive, women beating, city bombing religion.

Would you tell people –
a) “Oh like, I believe in Allah but I don’t like to label myself as a Muslim”
OR,
b) Islam does not endorse that.

Would you completely detach an ideology which in its core believes in good, just because others intepret it differently?

I don’t think so.

Also, many a times, people point out to me how Islam already gives rights to women so feminism is not required. While I agree with the premise, I do not agree with the conclusion. Islam is perfect, but muslims are not.

And as far as I can remember, it is the duty of every muslim to speak up when injustice occurs.

Remark 4- So can I hit a woman now?

Often this is the first remark I, and many other people hear when we proclaim ourselves as feminists.

First of all- No one should hit eachother. ( Why is that even a debate?)

Second- If the first thought that comes to your head is the fact that you can hit women now ( …yay? I guess?) then my friend, you might have something seriously wrong with you.

Third- We always see this in the context of a women slapping a man. Think of this in a more patriarchal, South Asian point of view. Imagine a ‘biwi’ ( wife) hitting a ‘shohar’ ( husband)
Scandalous, isn’t it?
Now think of the ‘shohar‘ hitting the ‘biwi’.
Normalized, justified, age old injustice, will maybe get you a yawn or two.

I rest my case.

Remark 5– Men get raped too.

Yes, they do, and I wholeheartedly sympathise with them. I also do realize that this subject is not given enough importance in society as it should rightfully be given. If you’re a man who has been abused, and then belittled for it or dismissed for it, I wholeheartedly grieve for you.

BUT.

Understand that your sexual exploitation, when used as a counter argument when women talk about their issues, and then forgotten afterwards, is not doing you any favors either. I see the issue of men being raped only on a defense, rather than an offense.
Nobody cares about this issue before and after the argument or debate.

Understand that many people just use your exploitation as a personal gain for getting brownie points in an argument. Understand that we’ll all in this together.

Understand, that the dismissiveness and belittling that men go through regarding their emotions, regarding a false idea of masculinity that they are supposed to achieve, is something that feminists actively understand and want to fight for. Toxic masculinity is your own enemy as much as ours.


As a parting gesture, a few more testominies of casual sexism –

1) When I see women casually brushing off a man’s infidelity because…his wife is not attractive enough for him and does not adorn herself accordingly.

2) When I saw typical ‘friendzone’ posts as a teenager, and I wondered if its really that bad for men to only be friends with me. Or when they were annoyed about the fact that they did not get to have sex with every girl simply because they obliged being her friend. It’s as though sex is an entitled repayment a girl has to pay for very normal, friendly behaviour from her male counterparts.

3) Prostitutes is a word for women who earn money through sex work and services thereon. ‘Slut’, ‘hoe’, ‘thot’ being the millenial words.
There is no word for a man who recieves these services. ( The Linguistics, remember?)

4) Bollywood movies where upon the ‘bidaai’, ( farewell) of the bride to her marital home, the bride’s father would inevitably apologize for any forthcoming mistakes that his daughter might make in advance. ( I remember seeing these when I was a child and being severely confused whether I missed a plotline or an integral part of the story.) What efficiency!

I could make a completely different article on these incidents, and I could make 3 more if I asked two or three women more about everytime they’ve had to face something’ solely because they happen to have the wrong organs.

Is there a bottom line or a punch line? Not really. There will be a part two, an extension of more issues that I, as a muslim feminist think of and relate to.

Until then…

Hello, world!

Hi! My name is Atiya Tariq, and I manage to (sometimes) keep my sanity through words. Anne Frank, my inspiration, did say paper is more patient than people, and I wholeheartedly believe in taking due advantage of that.

My posts are centered around my life, my observations, the deep thinking hole I plunge into all the time, and any social issue that I’m currently obsessed with, all mainly within South Asian culture.

I happen to be a woman, a Muslim born in India, raised in Dubai and currently, shuttle between the both of them. Basically, identity crisis is my middle name.

Before reading my blog, here’s a few things I feel the need to clarify although I have absolutely no reason to other than my own insecurities-:

1) What I write about might be someone else’s experience, something I’ve only observed, something that I’ve only read about, or something that I’ve only wondered about. Sometimes, I will be specific, but more often than not, I will not be.

2) Just because I sometimes write about sad things, does not mean I’m sad. Writing is my way is putting out more thought and empathy in the world. Sad people don’t often do that.

3) I don’t mean to offend anyone. Everything is a learning curve. Maybe feeling personally attacked through someone’s blog can be your learning curve.

4) This blog is less about me as a person, and more about what I want to put out in the world. I’d love it if you saw it that way too!

5) Sometimes, I write about sensitive topics such as feminism, South Asian aunty culture, body dysmorphia, religion. My intention is only to try to shift someone’s perspective, change their thought process, see things with a new light. Brushing off my concern for the world and the empathy I have for different people by calling me a Social Justice Warrior will say more about you, than me.

If you find me interesting, do delve into my mind. I promise, you won’t be bored. Healthy debate is encouraged, hateful comments will be blocked, and if you too happen to read, link your website! We can be friends.🌻