The 'frandship' caller conundrum
It might be odd for many but a guy like me has also gotten frandship calls over the years. Partly because my voice didn’t break for the longest time and the pervert on the other end didn’t believe that he was, in fact, talking to a guy. Similarly, I had to pretend to be my sister when the pizza delivery guy called confirming the address.
Pizza guy: Aap Mr Ali kay ghar say baat kar rahi hain?
Me: Jee, main Ali ki behen hoon.
However, though the history of my former voice seems interesting, it is not the point of this blog. It is in fact, about the annoyance of frandship calls that many women these days get in our country. (And for the record, I don’t get those calls anymore – my voice has developed).
A few days ago, a friend of mine received a very interesting MMS in the middle of the night; a picture of her former cook’s genitalia. She was horrified.
Women in Pakistan are often subjected to this kind of cellular torture, when a pervert calls and texts them in the middle of the night with the hopes that the person they’ve called will reciprocate his feelings.
However, this is not the case.
Or is it?
Few would admit that hearing strangers on the phone coyly whisper “aap se baat karni hai” (I want to talk to you) in the middle of a busy workday fills them with a sense of validation that, yes, people do enjoy talking to them. And I’d be equally hard-pressed to find a woman who has been touched by the string of romantic poems she received via SMS from unidentified men.
Now admittedly, in the grand scheme of things, frandship calls aren’t much of a problem to complain about. They’re minor nuisances, more like it. But every once in a while, a particularly persistent frandshipper gets his hand on your number and then all bets are off.
Many of my female friends have had the misfortune of dealing with messages along the lines of:
“Parna nahin aata? Phone uthao!”
(Don’t you know how to read? Pick up the call!)
“Kahin mausam ki tarah, tum bhi na badal jao.”
(Don’t change your feelings for me, like the weather.)
“I hav seen u in Zabist, u r v v pretty”
Oh, and my personal favourite:
“I think we will be friends forever. Because... we are too lazy to find new ones.”
For those girls who wonder where the pervert got their number from, the answer is fairly simple and on the other end very convenient to obtain.
The frandshipper could have procured your number from a delivery service you ordered lunch from. He could be a former driver whom you would innocently call to pick you up from school or work. He could even be a maulvi you once interviewed over the phone for an investigative story. Ignoring the calls, turning your phone off or even answering the call and leaving it unattended in the hopes of burning the frandshipper’s cell phone bill will not deter him.
But why are they so persistent?
After all these years of trying, why haven’t they backed off already?
This is because we judge too quickly and neglect to see the other side. Some women, in blatant contradiction of what I wrote earlier, do reply – and they reply favourably.
The popular opinion is that frandshippers are annoying, and justifiably so.
Earlier this year, I met a women’s rights activist at a conference who showed me the other side of the picture. She told me the story of a woman she met in a shelter. This woman, married with six children, came from a small village where karo-kari (honour killing) is a ground reality and gender equality would be considered a joke. The woman had access to a phone on which she started receiving frandship calls. What are considered unwelcome messages for most of us, turned out to be deeply moving for her.
She told the activist that nobody in her life, not even her parents, have ever spoken to her so kindly. The woman and her ‘gentleman caller’ grew close and eventually decided to elope. For the chance to be united with this man who spoke to her so sweetly, this woman not only abandoned her children but also risked her life. She ran away from her village and arrived at the bus-stop, where they had planned to meet.
She waited. And then waited some more. The sweet-talking frandshipper never showed up.