Many love affairs in Pakistan begin with the promise of marriage; the man readily shows an inclination to interact with the woman’s mother even before uttering the sacred I-love-you, which, by the way, retails in our country for a cheap Rs 10 per kg. The shaadi (marriage) bait works almost every time in pursuing the woman to overcome obstacles to meet the man, and invest herself sentimentally into a relationship with him. After all, this is a country obsessed with bridal engagements; females are trained from an early age to prepare for the final ‘destination’. The impression she is given in her parents abode is similar to living on a short-term lease basis with them.
There is something very dark and immoral about men exploiting this vulnerable aspect in women just to add them to their list of conquests. In the course of their courtship the lovey dovey couple even goes on to discuss names of their future children; the woman may even begin addressing the man’s mother as ammi, and this chain of cooking khayali pulao (day dreaming) continues till he loses interest in her and finds another victim.
A heartbroken girl once confided in me about having pre-selected even the brand of washing machine for her future home with her beloved even though things were not official at that point. This may appear ludicrous at the surface, but there are many women amongst us who have fallen prey to a Casanova’s games. Learning to deal with the aftermath of a break-up, and more importantly, waking up to the realisation of being conned in the name of love can take years to subside.
It is no secret that many men in our society treat women as second-class citizens, as goods that can be easily replaced, but not everybody wears their regressive attitude on their sleeve. In the realm of the dating world are scores of charming, con artists taking young women on an emotional rollercoaster ride. It is mostly for their personal ego boosting or to use them for momentary pleasure.
Socially too, men who play women are easily forgiven, and this trait of theirs is often given a comic garb. We see it in films all the time; we have laughed as audience members every time a young man has two-timed girls, and has been caught red-handed by them. There can be nothing hilarious about a man painting scenic dreams on a woman’s empty canvas, and then pushing her off the same cliff they sketched together. When a man cheats on a woman, or goes back on his promise of marriage, he disrespects the trust she has placed in him by offering him glimpses of her unguarded sides.
Ours is the land of Heer Ranjha, Sassi Pannu and Mirza Sahiba, of lovers who fought against all odds to stick by each other. There was pathos and even bittersweet serenity in the way Ranjha abandoned his village after Heer was forcibly married off to the village chaudhry (feudal lord), and lived as a wandering dervish till he was reunited with the one who set his heart aflame. Unfortunately, our world today consists of Romeos of an inferior kind, their love is as corny and irreverent as poetry found amidst embellished truck art. The Ranjha of today is mostly interested in acquiring phone numbers of females to add to his ever-expanding contacts list. The Pakistani Romeo wants no responsibility connected to his inamorata; he simply enjoys the adrenaline rush of ‘falling in love’ again and again and again. Many men are addicted to this now, and can often be found eliciting online relationships because it gives them the same kick as discovering a new heart to conquer and eventually break. Men who cheat on women endlessly always end up blaming the female for their actions, and accuse her of similar debauchery by calling her names.
Somewhere, the onus lies with society as well; there are plenty of mothers out there encouraging such behaviour by simply turning a blind eye to their son’s misdeeds. Friends too often keep quiet about that one man in their group who has affixed his name to many girls’ first names just to ‘patao’ (deceive )them.
In our society we regard our own sister as pristine, filled with perfection, but treat other people’s daughter as a thing to be used, and that is where the problem lies. It lies in the attitude of distrust, in easily violating another soul emotionally and getting away with it, as loved ones are always there to shield the wrongdoer. In a Pakistan where good men are close to becoming an extinct species, we need introspection as a community to look within and identify causes of moral corruption. Till then I believe many women are better off living with their father’s name attached to their first name than being emotionally abused; having no man is better than having a bad one by their side.