The Definitive Guide to Rishta-making

Emaan Majed has tips for families looking to hitch up the (too) modern Pakistani woman

The Definitive Guide to Rishta-making
One is often forced to conclude that that the single girl between the ages of 19 and 25 must be in want of a muzzle for her rishta-happy family members. For Pakistanis, rishtas are the stuff of obsession. Marriages – and the free food that comes with them – are part of our social fabric.

And yet lately, this institution is under threat.

As I understand it from late nights at Auntie gatherings, there is considerable tension and distress amongst parents nowadays as to the state of rishta-making in contemporary Pakistan. The young kids are getting all these Western ideas in their heads from the Brad Pitt movies they watch. It’s not at all like in “our days” when we sang along to Rishi Kapoor songs and dreamt of him sweeping us away. This moral decadence is unique and totally new! How will these kids get married? How will Sumana settle down with that banker? How can we crush girls’ self esteem to an adequate extent – such that they never speak up or cause conflict in their marriages? These are all the crucial, burning questions troubling our world today.

Happily for you, I am here at your rescue with this newly formulated, 100% results-guaranteed Rishta Guide for the Parents of the (Far Too) Modern Pakistani Woman. Here are the tips which, if you follow whilst raising your daughters, should guarantee that they will get a rishta to make the whole mohalla proud.

1) Impress upon them that pleasing men is the most important thing in the world

Your daughter is a human being with complexity, contradictions and desires. She is capable of so much and can accomplish anything she sets her mind to. Make sure, though, that she does not know this. If women know their worth, there’s no way they’ll put up with the usual patriarchal bullshit from their husbands. So raise them as though they are lambs for the slaughter. Instill into them a deeply held idea that their value is in their womb, and keeping their mouth shut. Joan of Arc stopped a war at age 17, Marie Curie won the Nobel and Benazir Bhutto ran the entire country, twice. So everyone knows the best your daughters can do is get married. You clearly think very highly of them and their potential.

2) Destroy their dreams and crush their ambitions

No matter how well you groom your daughter with the knowledge that her primary task in life is marriage and babies, be warned of the dangers of her own growing mind. There may come a time when she could take an interest in mathematics or daydream of making scientific discoveries that could change the world. Nip that sh*t in the bud! You don’t want your girls to get any crazy ideas. You want to make sure they are good wives – and obviously being whole people comes second. Keeping them from their professional desires is something that they will never grow to resent. You can, of course, send your daughters to college for medicine etc, but only in pursuit of presenting some family with a nicely packaged MBBS beevi. If her husband allows it, your daughter can even work – providing that she continue to do 100% of the housework and childcare and keep her hours minimal so as to tend to her husband’s every need.

3) Treat them like children.

In other parts of the world, children come of age at 18. In some countries, this even occurs at 16. But in Pakistan, we have different customs. Your daughter could be in her mid-twenties, have her own job, get multiple degrees and drive herself around – but of course, until she gets married she is just a helpless child. Make sure you treat her as such. It is not at all infuriating and your daughter will be grateful to you for constantly undermining her. Even though she is legally and mentally an adult, she should ask for permission to go out with friends, and you should routinely say ‘no’ to cement your hold. Perhaps you can allow your sons to go on overnight trips, fetch groceries or run around with their friends experiencing their youth, but you should assume daughters are basically incapable of that.

If your daughter complains, remind her lovingly that she is not really a person; she is merely a toy or plaything to be passed from her father’s rigid control to her husband’s rigid control. Maybe she can go out more or even wear sleeveless when she’s married, if her husband permits it. Thinking of a husband like a replacement father is normal, and not at all creepy.

4) Teach them to “compromise”, a word which here means “make sure the woman does whatever her husband wants, while pretending this is a part of a healthy marriage,”

We all know the sage advice aunties and uncles give to women when their marriage is in crisis. Compromise, beta! And to him: We are talking her into compromising, beta. Women must accept that their fate is to yield because, as everyone knows, men can’t change- a fact which has no biological or psychological basis, but which we have all repeated enough times that we’re convinced it’s true.

5) Teach them that if they really want to be an amazing woman, the best thing to do is put themselves last and suffer endlessly.

This is a great foundation for a healthy, well-adjusted psyche. Your daughters will be so happy! And if not, at least they’ll feel like martyrs. Spend time creating a narrative that a good woman is a long-suffering woman who never stands up for herself: this will ensure that she will never leave an abusive or unhappy situation, no matter how dire. After all, you’ve taught her that for a woman, being treated poorly is like a badge of honour. The best thing is – after the previously described campaign of psychological destruction – your daughters won’t even care how horrible their husbands are! He could be cheating on her with twenty ladies, keep her under the thumb of a controlling susral, and sap all the life from her eyes, but she’ll still be happy he brought her flowers seven years ago. Keeping standards extremely low for men is so beneficial for all women.

Now, before I go, you may be wondering what advice I can give to those with sons. Listen up close: you don’t have to do anything! Don’t worry about making sure your sons are moral, decent or hardworking. Especially don’t sweat about whether they respect women, treat them well or stand up for their wife. If you’re raising cheaters, wife-beaters or rapists, well, so be it! After all, boys will be boys.