Thursday, August 24, 2006

Coming of Age in Pakistan: The Proposals

During my last teacher training session I got to know one of the students quite well. She told me a lot about her life, including many amusing stories about growing up. Here I hope to share them in a paraphrase of her own words so you can also learn about one upper class Pakistani woman's story.
When I was about thirteen my father told me that I had three proposals for marriage. All three of them were my cousins, but they were of different ages. One of them was the same age as me. The other was about two years older than me. And finally, the third one was about ten years older than me. In our tradition, a female family member comes to the house of the girl to make the proposal. My father's relatives had all come, and he told them that he would ask me to make the choice. My father was a good man, and he always gave his daughters independence. He taught us to make decisions on our own, so when it came time for marriage he left the decision to me.
The suitors wanted answers right away, but I asked my father for one day to think about it. I said, "Mai soch rahi hu" (I'm thinking about it). I didn't have to think about it for too long, because I already knew the best decision to make. I chose the eldest cousin, even though he lived far away in Bhawalphur, about eight hours by road from Lahore. I easily chose the eldest one because I knew he would be more mature and able to provide for me and my children. I did not consider the one who was my age because he was so young and immature. He was only thirteen years old himself. If I were to marry him I would have to wait many years to be married.
So many of my cousins wanted to marry me because I was a very easy-going girl. I was laid back, and whatever anyone asked me to do I would do. If I stayed in Lahore, it's ok. If I moved to Bhawalphur, it's ok. I was able to adjust to anything I was thrown into, and so that's why the women in the family wanted me to marry their sons.
The next day I told my father about my decision. He called my future mother-in-law and told her that I had accepted the proposal. She came over the house to bring sweets, gifts and an engagement ring. Her son was already 26 and ready to be married, but since I was younger the family decided to wait a few years to hold the marriage ceremony. I remember wearing the ring and feeling so happy that I would marry such an older and mature man.

1 comment:

Jianing said...

She actually has no choice, does she? Too young to be engaged.