Matchmaking businesses: Wolves disguised in sheep clothing?
They say that ‘relationships are made in heaven’. But finding that ‘assigned better half’ on this earth is quite a daunting task. This chore becomes even more overwhelming when mothers of daughters approaching their twenties become apprehensive at being unable to find a good spouse for their daughters.
And sometimes in their desperation, they eventually seek the help of matchmakers. Matchmaking in Pakistan is gradually gaining ground and turning into a money-making business. Getting their daughters married into a decent family is undeniably a glad tiding for any family. But the plethora of events and proceedings that precede the event are quite dreadful and often laden with disappointment.
This is precisely why matchmaking is, unfortunately, becoming a lucrative business.
Pakistan is a country where soaring inflation has already made managing the day-to-day finances of a family difficult, especially considering the fact that in most households, there’s just one bread winner. And now, a major portion of these limited finances are reserved for the matchmakers’ fee which varies depending on the experience and ‘success rate’ of the match maker.
The quandary is not just confined to financial considerations but also the often inappropriate behaviour that the girl and her family have to endure. The girl is expected to look appealing, bear her potential in-law’s scrutiny and answer a multitude of acceptable and unacceptable questions by candidates narrowed down by the matchmaker. Added to this is the burden of arranging an extravagant menu of delicacies (preferably home-cooked) every time the matchmaker calls and schedules another ‘look-see’.
But disappointment takes over and all the efforts go down the drain when days later the phone rings with polite (and sometimes impolite) refusals.
Understandably, this shatters the family and especially the girl both, mentally and physically. After spending hours on her grooming and looks, the refusal comes as a slap on the girl’s face, making her doubt her personality and lowering her self-esteem. On the other hand, the parents are left disappointed and worried with regards to the wasted expenditure, and the thought of their daughter living her life as the ‘dreaded spinster’.
Unfortunately, this phenomenon occurs quite often in thousands of households across our country until ‘Mr right’ is found. But what is even more unfortunate is that even after finding a partner for their daughter while undergoing such struggles, there is still no guarantee of the girl’s future and happiness.
I came across two such sad incidents which even after years of their occurrence, were remembered by the girls’ mothers with profound regret. Both these girls belonged to lower middle class families.
In one incident, the girl and her family were attracted by the man’s occupation and his residence in one of the Gulf states where he was employed. This man’s family visited the girl’s house numerous times and each time the girl’s family prepared lavish cuisines, believing that their generosity and considerate behaviour would impress the potential in-laws. Moreover, every time the man’s family came to the girl’s house for a visit, the matchmaker charged a fee for her services.
After almost two years of these visits, this man and his family simply stopped coming and the arrangement came to an end. During this time, the match maker kept beating around the bush when asked about their reckless and irresponsible attitude.
This poor girl and her family still await a decent and promising proposal that might come her way.
The second incident was one of blatant manipulation and lies as the man’s family along with the matchmaker took advantage of the girl’s (and her family’s) helplessness at being the eldest of six sisters – the ‘burden of burdens’ in our society.
The man pretended to be the sole owner of his parent’s house which was shown to be located in one of Karachi’s posh areas. The matchmaker made Rs95,000 in this scam by charging a fee to the girl’s family for her services and to the man’s family for playing along with the lie.
However, once they got married the façade was exposed. The girl discovered that he had two wives already and actually lived in an underprivileged area of the city. Today, after six years of marriage, the girl is working two shifts in a government school just to feed her children and her not-so-stable husband while her family are neck deep in hefty loans which they borrowed for their daughter’s wedding.
It is a pity that such selfish and money-minded attitudes of these so called social service providers is actually a menace to society and ruins the lives of helpless and naive girls along with their families.
It is a pity that just because these girls and their families are poor, their lives are not considered precious or important.
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