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The extraterrestrial groom syndrome

Her dad had always been a stern man, a person who once used to make people tremble with the firmness in his voice.  He had pride and ego oozing off his magnificent demeanor.  Relatives used to say “Wait till his daughters get married. The pride in his eyes and the strength in his voice will extinguish like it never existed”. She used to sit in a corner and listen to them talk. It was beyond her comprehension how her dad’s personality was related to his daughter’s wedlock. She used to wonder and wonder without reaching to any conclusions.

Fortunately or unfortunately as you may say, she didn’t have to wait long for an answer. She got married in the next couple of years. She slowly noticed a transformation she had never hoped for. The man who had never bowed before anyone in his life slowly learned to do so. When her in-laws asked for anything, his answer was always a yes. He tried his utmost best to please them, always had a smile on his face, never raised his voice, always made the first move, and treated them like royalty.  When she asked him why was it so necessary to please the in-laws, his eyes slowly looked down as he said in a gentle voice “Ham larki walay hain beta” (We belong to the girl’s side). She stood still, but the gravity of her father’s sentence wanted to push her down in the earth.

Her in-laws on the other hand seemed to be on the seventh sky.  Getting their son married to a girl had blessed them with unseen powers that they had never acquired before. It had given them an edge, superiority over her own parents. The wedding had been a painful affair in some aspects. Her in-laws had thrown tantrums over little mishaps which happen in such panicky situations. Somebody forgot to stand on the door to welcome the groom’s parents, which they found to be highly insulting and derogatory. Her parents were running all over the place to make sure the “Larkay walay” (Grooms side) don’t get upset. They finally bid her farewell with a heavy heart. Despite all the efforts that were put in the wedding her in-laws were found saying the other day “We didn't get the importance we deserved.  They should have given us more respect. After all we are the "groom’s parents"! The saga of tantrums continued thereafter. Her parents were in a constant struggle to please her husband’s family each day, with gifts, with compliments with respect. Her dad’s friend had advised him and he had painfully obliged “Never say no to the in-laws. Whatever they say is always right. Follow that and your daughter will never have problems”.

She cringed at the mindset infiltrating her society.  It was so unfair and unjust.  She didn’t find the concept of “respect” wrong but the fact that it was majorly one sided sent chills through her spine.  The fact that her parents had to oblige to everything with a smile on their face was painful .The fact that it was because of her was devastating. She searched every religious book and literature that existed none justifying this superiority syndrome. Her religion only talked about equality and mutual respect.

She realized that even though she was educated as much as her husband, even though the world accepted her as an Independent strong woman, there was still one quality in her which would take her down in this society whenever given a chance. The quality of being a “girl”. And this time it was in the form of marriage. Unfortunately her society was still suffering from the “Ham Larkay Walay Hain” syndrome. It’s a syndrome where the quality of being a groom’s parents was nothing less than extraterrestrial. 

Her story makes me wonder who has really set down these rules of marriage for the bride and groom. Are these laid down in our religion and hence we feel obliged to follow them? Or is it because of a culture that we retained from our neighbors at the time of partition? Why is the marriage of a girl still so much of a hassle for the poor parents? Who has created this fine line of superiority amongst the bride and the groom’s families? Why are they expected to be the oppressed in this relationship? Is it because of the centuries old superiority of the Y chromosome? Is this behavior an extension of the exalted happiness expressed at the time of the birth of a boy?  Or the hidden fear of the parents that unless they go into total submission their daughter will be mistreated in her new home?

Whatever are the reasons, it is indeed saddening and a major wakeup call for all those who have been inflicted by it. Let's hope we can erase this curse from our minds and no other father ever has to let his pride fall just because he doesn't belong to extraterrestrial clan of "larkay walays".

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