Taking a cue from Islamabad: A satire

If we fail, we go home and start some new rally.

Aalia Suleman August 22, 2014
Good morning.

This is Aalia Suleman reporting from Karachi, where the two notorious marches currently in progress in Islamabad have ironically managed to spur off similar vehement sentiments in other areas of the population. It won’t be surprising if similar marches start raising heads all over the country.

Currently we are interviewing the leaders of the two grand marches that are staging a sit-in at one of the largest grounds in Karachi, venue of hundreds of marriages every year. Mehrul Jafri (MJ) leads the Azad-Biwi-Tehreek (ABT) while Afreen Khan (AK) chairs the Jahez-Jalao-Tehreek (JJT). Though the mandates of both parties are pretty much similar, they have refused to join hands and insist that they have separate agendas. The target of both parties is members of the In-law House. As the two parties marched to the marriage ground, they were joined by throngs of girls and women of all ages who strongly believe in their agenda. Let’s start the interview:
Aalia: First of all, we’d like to thank you both for taking the time to explain your agenda. Please tell the viewers what your demands are.

MJ: The demands of the Azad-Biwi-Tehreek are simple. We believe that the In-law House has created a system of oppression and humiliation that is entirely against the basic constitution of marriage. We demand the immediate dissolution of this bogus constitution and that all married women be given new rights under a new constitution.

AK: The Jahez-Jalao-Tehreek functions on the firm belief that there should be no taking or giving of jahez in any marriage henceforth. Since the mothers-in-law are to be blamed the most in this regard, we demand that all mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law resign from their posts immediately and that their positions be filled with substitute mothers-in-law and sisters-in-law appointed by the JJT. The sisters-in-law are traditionally the next in line villains in the In-law House. These interim In-Laws will then investigate the deception and frauds occurring in the In-law House.
Aalia: Hearing your basic mandate, it seems like you are both on the same page and pursuing more or less a similar goal. So why hold separate rallies? Why not just hold hands?

MJ: We realise that ABT and JJT are more or less professing the same mandate, but the problem is that these crushed, oppressed and victimised women are so confused about their lives that they don’t know a donkey from a dog. So unless we give them separate clear mandates with single items on the agendas, their minds just refuse to function.

AK: I agree. That is also the reason I am holding a separate rally. These wives are indeed a sorry, sad piece of humanity pushed into a zombie-like state by these villainous mothers-in-law who push their fathers and their brothers into debt for life by demanding jahez and …
Aalia: Excuse me for interrupting but aren’t you two being a little insulting and callous when assessing the mental state of daughters-in-law in our society? Mothers-in-law aren’t really so bad that you have set out to the change the entire In-law System. Plus, In-laws are relatives automatically created when a marriage takes place.

MJ: I agree with you. But if a person becomes an oppressor then that person has to go. When we demand a change in the In-law Constitution, we are in fact bringing about a change in the entire In-law System. This will bring relief to thousands of women in the country.

AK: Here I would like to add that the decade’s old problem of jahez rigging will also be fixed under this new constitution.
Aalia: Jahez rigging?

AK: You see it is only under the guidance of the mothers-in-law, often supported by the sisters-in-law, that the policy of jahez give-and-take has always been rigged in this country. Not only is there a long list of items from the In-law House for the girl to bring, but the girls are ostracised for not bringing these things. Once the ABT succeeds in bringing about a new constitution, it will automatically dissolve the law of jahez too.

TV: But that looks like the other party is doing all your work for you. We still don’t understand why you two are not joining hands then?

AK: Well people like to see a leader suffering to get them justice. These women would feel more empowered if they see two parties fighting, suffering and crying for their rights rather than just one party. It’s just a psychological way of making them feel good.
Aalia: Suffering? In what way? It seems like it is these women who are suffering. Though you have gathered this immense crowd of women here, they are just sitting in this terrible heat of Karachi on the hot roads while you sit in your cool tents with air coolers and ice-cold drinks. It was also reported a while ago that all your meals have been pre-ordered from certain high-class restaurants.

MJ: Believe me, we feel their pain. But since these women are already used to suffering, a little more suffering won’t hurt them. In fact it will only strengthen their resolve to bring down the In-law House.

AK: Yes. You are failing to understand the point here. When we say that we are ‘suffering’ for their rights, we do not mean physical suffering. We are referring to the mental suffering. After all, creating this mandate, planning all this, and then getting out on the road is not easy. We have a life too, you know. This is all a psychological tactic of making the women feel good. Our sitting in cool tents and their sitting on hot roads has nothing to do with it.
Aalia: Let’s suppose both of you get your major goals accomplished and your mandates approved, what’s next?

AK: Well, off the record, we will then be standing up to reverse the jahez scheme and all other major tenets of the In-law House. For instance, the boy will now be bringing the jahez to the girl’s house at the demands of the girl’s parents.
Aalia: But why would he do that? Jahez is actually the stuff the girl uses for her own convenience as she starts her new life. Yes, there are exceptions but not all In-laws demand it by a list.

AK: You are siding with the In-law House when you say this. Jahez used to be a good, harmless custom but now all its forms and features are rigged. We will demand full reverse of jahez custom.

MJ: Not only that, we will also seek full redemption for all our sisters who have been victimised in the name of jahez and by various other ways by the mothers and sisters-in-law. We demand all women come out of the streets to join these two protests.
Aalia: You have also demanded Domestic Disobedience from all daughters-in-law an hour back. Now isn’t that going a bit too far? How is this supposed to help your cause?

AK: This means that no daughter-in-law will do any housework at all. She will not clean, cook or talk to her in-laws. She will also not take care of the kids. She will leave the kids with these witches who call themselves mothers-in-law and she will join our rallies.

MJ: Domestic Disobedience will help our cause by bringing the entire workings of the In-law House to a halt. With this critical part of the In-law machinery not working, we will have a stronger chance to win.
Aalia: One of our team members also interviewed a daughter-in-law who had refused to join your rally saying that she has no issues with the In-law House and she is happy where she is. She has labelled you two ‘fanatical lunatics’. What do you say to that?

MJ: Women who talk like this are actually the ones who need to be liberated first. I shall go to their homes myself and liberate them from this tyrannical system. The height of victimisation and oppression has muddled their brains.
Aalia: But they say they are happy and …

AK: They are all liars! And I will go myself with MJ to their doors even if I have to walk door-to-door!
Aalia: But that will be very hard. It is very hot.

MJ: In case you haven’t noticed, our tents are perched on trucks. They move with us.
Aalia: So let’s just suppose your entire march fails and you face failure. What will happen to your own lives? Have you thought about the humiliation you will have to face with your own families?

AK: If you don’t mind me saying so, you really are an uneducated fool. Do you really think we’d be stupid enough to ruin relations with our own mothers-in-law? Idiot, if we fail, we go home and start some new rally.
Aalia: Huh? You mean your own mothers-in-law aren’t part of the In-law House that you are trying to bring down?

MJ: Of course not! We have very good mothers-in-law who actually sat with us to prepare the mandates for these marches. We’d have been stupid to plan against them. We realised while planning these rallies that there is a chance for failure…

AK: You think we are fools? We didn’t want to be living on the road if we failed.
Aalia: But what about these hundreds of women who’ve joined you here? Haven’t you utterly bombed their roads to return back home. With what face will they go back?

MJ: Well, what can we say? It’s the price one pays when seeking a revolution.
Aalia: Thank you both of you for taking this time. And viewers, my colleague will not take over this special coverage since I have to run back home and reassure my mother-in-law that I am in no way part of these two marches.

Aalia Suleman A freelance writer and poet who is keenly interested in the status of women in 21st century Pakistan. Her writing also zones in on Pakistan's new social and political status on a redefined global chessboard. She has a masters degree in English Literature and blogs and invites debates at 'Socio-politically Pakistani'. She tweets @aaliasuleman (https://twitter.com/aaliasuleman)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


siesmann | 9 years ago | Reply The Father-in-Laws are sitting on the fence ready to take over the household.And AK should get married and spend her energy taking care of her household.
Aalia Suleman | 9 years ago | Reply Glad everyone enjoyed that. Sadly, satire is what many present situations in Pakistan are encouraging. More coming soon.
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