Illusions ~ those sweet and not-so-sweet lies we tell to convince others of our happy, neat and perfect lives – [main] bohot khush hoon, wrote Kuku to Khurram…
Delusions ~ those sweet and not-so-sweet lies we tell to convince ourselves of our happy, neat and perfect lives – [main] bohot khush hoon, wrote Kuku to Khurram…
Recognitions ~ those messy and not quite so easily rationalized realities that take courage to acknowledge: life is not a bed of roses, every day brings with it new challenges, nothing is pitch perfect, and not every question gets a beautifully packaged, no-loose-ends reply. The ones who are able to come to terms with their less than perfect lives are the ones who walk with a spring in their step, a smile on their lips. Difficulties come but lack the power to hold hostage those who have seen through the glittering societal facade of illusions and delusions. Then come what may, thick webs of half truths and lies can no longer impede those who have found their way home … these are the ones who have found their pehchan...
After an arduous journey, finding her way through the morass of deceit and deception, heartaches and broken promises, Kuku learned enough to realize that being strong did not equate to being perfect. Others around her were weak, no doubt, but getting impatient with their shortcomings while turning a blind eye to her own faults was not doing her any favors. Ironically enough it was Khurram, the weakest man in her life, who opened her eyes to the truth. With the blinkers gone there dawned a gradual realization of all that was wrong – not just around her, but inside of her as well. Though painful to the nth degree, her soul searching helped Kuku figure out that rather than blaming others for her unhappiness, she needed to hold herself responsible for her happiness.
It was only after making peace with her mistakes that she was able to move past the pent up bitterness and anger and make room forgiveness and joy. She had always been friends with Mrs. Khan and Laila, but now there was a new honesty, a genuine camaraderie in their conversations. For Mansoor, it was not only love that was gone but even her anger, now she could only pity him and find humor in his lame attempts to woo Laila back. With Khurram, it was no longer about his failure to grow up to be the man she wanted him to be, rather she accepted him for who he was, a child trapped in a man’s body, and where was the point in keep expectations of a immature child. It was she who had to be mature one, step back gracefully and let Khurram spread his wings. His departure paved the way for a stronger relationship between them, this time as friends. The wisdom she’d gained from recent experiences was reflected in her regular updates to Khurram, main bhi theek hoon, she wrote. Yes, she was theek – theek enough to live her life, theek enough to value and appreciate her friends, theek enough to forgive and forget, theek enough to head home, theek enough to have found her pehchan.
That she followed up her honest assessment with the added bohot khush hoon, indicated that ingrained habits of a lifetime are hard to break. Kuku knows who she is, she has pehchan -oed herself, magar bharam bhi tau rakhna hota hai ... kuch khud ko behlaney ke liye aur kuch doosron ko dikhaney ke liye ….
And on bharams and illusions, who would know better about those than Zari aunty. Keeping up appearances and maintaining the status quo is what she’s done throughout her life, and will continue doing so till the bitter end. Supporting a daughter who needed her was deemed secondary to protecting her dead husband’s izzat and naam. That Laila was a daughter was perhaps her biggest sin. No matter what she did or how far backwards she bent, she was never going to be as good as her brother – the ghar ka mard. He only had to snap his fingers from abroad and his mother silently did his bidding. He was the man/the elder of the family and it was, therefore, up to him to decide what was right or wrong for the women in his household. This was what he had seen around him and this was what was expected of him. Waisey bhi, wasn’t silent acquiescence a part of shareef mashriqi aurat’s job description? If so, then he could hardly be in the wrong; it was all Laila’s fault for being so headstrong, and his mother’s fault for allowing her daughter to do as she pleased. Now if they thought of themselves as suffering then it was definitely not because of him, was it?
Yes, Laila’s brother was only doing what mashriqi men generally think of as their god given duty – to provide and look after the womenfolk in their family, to know what is right for them and protect them from all that is wrong out there in world. This was exactly what Mansoor was offering to Laila yet again in this final episode. For all the concern he was showing for Laila’s well being, there was little in his words that sounded sincere. His apology, if it could be called that, sounded remarkably like the rant of a thoroughly deluded man. When had they ever been a happy family that he was now talking about a return to that time? Who in their right mind would describe a marriage as happy if the man was pretty much telling his wife that he needed her back for the sake of his izzat? Would an “open” marriage, where each spouse was free to find their happiness, their space, outside of their marital bed, be defined as a reconciliation? What world was this man living in? We knew he was nuts, but itna ziyada?
Leaving Mansoor’s sanity, or lack thereof, aside, an important issue raised here was that of male privilege. In a patriarchal setup where a man can pretty much get away with murder, what chance does a woman stand of asserting herself as an independent, intelligent entity? What was done ever so brilliantly here was that blame was not assigned to only the men, but women too were held equally complicit. As long as there are mummy jis and ammi jis and Mrs. Khans, around us such an unequal, unfair system will continue to thrive. For every one of these ladies, who have conceded their right to stand up, have willingly closed their eyes to their spouses’ infidelities, and allowed themselves to be easily placated with promises of a comfortable lifestyle and financial security, there exists a Laila – a young girl whose hands and feet bleed from gashes caused by shards of her broken dreams.
Over time this young girl grew up. She had to, she had no other choice. Time will heal her bruises but will Laila ever be able to forgive Mansoor? Will she ever be able to put that battered girl behind her? What kinds of hopes and dreams will Laila pass on to her daughter? What will she tell her about her father? Laila is lucky she has a Sa’di to lean on, a Kuku who offers her unstinting support and a Mrs. Khan, who despite all her marital issues, is a source of comfort, but what of all those millions of girls who are not so fortunate? Those who don’t have the know how to survive on their own – what option do they have other than suffering in silence in their cages? What hope and help can we offer as a society?
A system can change only when there is a push from within, when illusions and delusions give way to recognition, when we treat men and women with parity, look upon spouses as partners with equal rights and obligations, go beyond the glitz and glamour of ameer loag and bara ghar and take pride in naik loag and apna ghar, stop participating in silly games of one upmanship, and quit assigning blame on nameless faceless duniya and duniya walas. Change is after all nothing more than stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility, one individual at a time – pehchan-oing the stark reality jo tum bhi ho aur main bhi hoon.
Though a finale, in many ways this episode signaled the begining of new uncharted journeys for the characters. Where they go next is entirely dependent on how much they’ve learnt and grown from all that happened. A standing ovation to the entire team of Pehchan, for pushing the envelope, asking the hard questions that compelled us to think week after week. The producers Seema Razi and Raziuddin Ahmad deserve a lot of credit for taking the risk and backing a non-commercial project yet again. Talkhiyan was a tough act to follow, but kudos to Bee Gul and Khalid Ahmad for upping the story telling bar yet again. A huge round of applause also for Naveed Malik. Pehchan would not have been the delight it was if it weren’t for his superb visuals. Between Bee Gul, Khalid Ahmad and Naveed Malik pretty much every scene told a story, some of the frames looked like paintings come to life. The one thing I must not forget to commend is the optimal use of background music. If only the other sound editors could see this serial and take notes on how to do sound right.
The actors did a fabulous job, with Iffat Omar standing head and shoulders above all. Not to be left behind Alishba Yousuf rose to the challenge of playing the very complicated Laila. Sohail Sameer was a great Mansoor, but I continue to think the role demanded somebody with a bit more polish. Aneeta Camphor was a lot fun as Mrs. “Ruby” Khan. Poor Mrs. Khan, she was always so busy chatting that she never ever realized that Kuku barely did anything to her hair, ever! Much as I love Kuku, I don’t think my next visit to Pakistan includes a haircut at her Crisp Edge! Parveen Malik and Sumbul Shahid were excellent as the two moms. I missed seeing Sumbul in the final episode. Fawad Khan, though I complained about him initially, eventually grew on me as child/man Khurram. Faris Khalid did well enough as Sa’di. Qazi Wajid was great as the concerned abba.
In a serial where everything was on point, every detail attended to, the one thing that stuck out like a sore thumb, read extremely sore, was Laila’s nameless bacchi’s refusal to grow. I can understand her being nameless, but growth-less? Kuch samajh nahin aaya?! It is to the storytellers’ credit that we all took this major snafu in our stride, but still…. aur kuch nahin tau aakhri scene mein park men khelti hui kisi random bacchi ko hi dekha dete …
This one major blooper aside, overall this was a fabulous serial. As we close the book on Pehchan, a special shout out to the dedicated followers of this thread, we might’ve been a handful, but our discussions were always meaningful and a lot of fun. I now look forward to hearing your thoughts on not only this final episode, but on the serial as a whole as well – what’s your final verdict? Thumbs up or thumbs down?
Written by SZ~
Pehchan ~ Episode 20 ~ Finale (For other links click here)