Social pressures

Published September 23, 2022

NOT a day passes by when a friend or a random person my age does not ask me why I am doing a job that is paying me peanuts when I have a good financial background, with my parents having given me everything on a platter. I have heard such comments and arguments repeatedly from my peers, who insist that in my shoes, they would have married in a flash and settled down.

This, to me, is myopic mentality.

We seem to have made material aspects the be-all and end-all of our lives and we think having them is the sole determinant of everything good, and not having them brings everything bad. If one has a good home, a swanky car, and enough moolah to live a decent life, one is good to go.

If you want to marry, get married. If you do not want to work, do not work; if you want to go out painting the town red, do it. That is all about life. Nothing, but materialism rules. This is far from true. Take the monetary factor out and, we are too unimaginative to see things from any other standpoint.

We are living in a bubble. Life does not always stay the same. Call me blowhard, but I am foresighted enough to understand that parents will grow old and weak, and will one day leave this world. Everyone says I need not worry because even then I will have enough in inheritance, but only I know that I might not be able to sustain it the way my father is doing.

Even if I could, my dreams are too big to be realised by my so-called platter alone. I want to build my own identity. I would rather like to be known as someone in my own right. The job I am doing at the moment is just my baby step. Our society is too judgmental to understand that I am barely 25, and, if life and health do not ditch me, I have a long way to go.

My aspirations require me to take a different trajectory. The societal obsession with living off others and not striving to carve one’s own niche is one of the reasons why Pakistan has remained Pakistan, and has been unable to match the progress that other countries have made.

Also, being able to provide for one’s spouse is not reason enough to get married. It requires much more. Two people getting married to each other need to have the spark, the understanding, the emotional connection and the desire to spend their lives together.

In our society, families usually call the shots in this regard. The right of a person to decide when and who he wants to marry does not always come into play.

My case is no different. My father has tried to get me hitched a couple of times, and though I gave in, my fate did not.

Like the typical family heads in our society, he has not given up on deciding my destiny yet, but in vain. And till then, I am more than happy to focus on my professional life, because a couple of years down the line, I would still be of marriageable age, but I would be past the age that would get me my desired career, and, subsequently, my professional identity.

This is not just my story. This is something many in the young generation will be able to relate to. All I want to say is that people should never settle for what they have got, no matter how big it may be. And if they do, they should better know how to sustain it.

Also, marriage is too broad an institution to be led by financial element alone. It goes without saying that girls in our society have little say in their marriages, but the tale of many boys is no different either.

Ashraf Ahmed Shah
Hyderabad

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2022

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