Laila, tum kya karogi ab?
Unlike her daughter who has no problems sleeping, poor Mummy ji is at her wit’s end: What is this that her daughter has done? Walking out on a ameer, suljha hua, handsome shohar is just not done, specially not in khandani families like theirs. Akhir, what was Laila thinking or rather not thinking? Clearly she did not stop for even a second to think of how her actions would besmirch her late father’s naam aur izzat? She did not spend any time thinking of her mother, who would now have to deal with people’s questions? So selfish had she become she wasn’t even worried about the impact of her actions on her baby daughter’s future? Think, think, think – yes, all this had come about because of Laila’s lack of thinking. Aunty ji was right, because if seen from her perspective, Laila just did not think!
Yes, true, Laila did not think. She did not think of things in terms of others – in terms of her dead father, in terms of her aging mother, or even in terms of the future of her baby daughter. What she did think of instead was in terms of I, me, myself – in terms of Laila, in terms of herself as a woman, in terms of herself as a living breathing individual. Is thinking for one’s own self wrong? Is putting oneself, one’s self-interest, one’s self- respect, ahead of other peripheral concerns wrong? If Laila were to not think for herself, then who else would? Her mother? Her husband? No, she already tried them and both had failed her…. all they did was to look out for themselves. If they could put self-preservation first, then why was it so wrong for her to do so?
Why are we as a society so frightened and threatened by the thought of a woman living life on equal terms? A woman asking for parity? Why is a wife expected to explain herself and defend her actions while the husband is free of any such expectations? Why is it wrong for a woman to demand equitable treatment? Rather than walking two steps behind him, why can’t she walk beside her shareek-e hayat with her head held high? Humsafars sharing equally the weight of familial honor, naam and izzat?
Such are the questions that Bee Gul and Khalid Ahmad have us mulling over week after week. Questions that perhaps have no answers, easy or otherwise, but just thinking about them is step in the right direction. There is so much around us that we take for granted, so many societal notions that we take as given. It is these so-called normative that we are being asked to re-examine here, because after all it is none other than all of us together who comprise this duniya and duniya waley. We who complain about the hypocrisies and small mindedness of the duniya, about the fact that a woman is a second class citizen in a patriarchal society, perhaps its about time we looked around and counted the number of women upholding, preserving and perpetuating such a problematic setup. Laila’s mother, her mother-in-law, or even Mrs.Khan, aren’t they just as culpable as say a Mansoor or a Khurram?
And yes, on Khurram, seems like we’ve finally seen the last of him. Kuku’s confession had shaken him to the core, but rather than acknowledging that it was his weaknesses that led Kuku to Mansoor, he rationalized it so that even while giving Kuku credit he still came out looking like the injured party. Very conveniently he cast himself as the masoom na-samajh baccha, one who did not know any better, and Kuku, the responsible parent. Left unsaid was the fact that Kuku should’ve know better, she was the mature one after all. That he kept using the word baccha again and again without sparing a single thought to Kuku’s feelings, ignoring her obvious pain, spoke volumes about how little he had changed. It was still all about him. He was going to leave anyway, not like the plan with the friend had materialized overnight. It was just that the events played out such that he was able to walk away with his head held high.
Such is the mashriqi man’s sense of entitlement, such is the pedestal on which we as a society have placed this mard. Even after wronging Kuku Khurram came off as the one wronged. Laila, on the other hand, even after suffering so much emotional and physical abuse, left her house aware that she was opening herself up to finger-pointing and name calling. As a jilted spouse Mansoor will have the world by his side, even Laila’s mother is in his corner, but Kuku on the other hand warrants no such sympathy. Loved, loved how the two couples and their situations were juxtaposed and how the paralleling of their scenes highlighted what the words were not saying. Heard and unheard, voiced and silenced, spoken and visualized, all elements come together brilliantly to make Pehchan the gem that it is.
Yet again, another one out of the ball park!
Written by SZ~
Pehchan ~ Episode 16 (For alternate links click here)