I got my first proposal when I was fourteen years old, at a family wedding, after being cross examined by a well meaning Pakistani society matron who might have believed that I would be a good mix for her family’s gene pool. Luckily the prospective groom was not present and I spent most of the evening hiding in the ladies room to avoid more of the same. This is not an unusual turn of events and for the next decade my sister and I would be accosted at weddings, social events and the like by match making mamas all eager to find a bride for their son or nephew. Now I look back on this time with nostalgia and a giggle but at the time I do remember freezing in terror, especially if I did not know the groom to be in question. How could I be expected to marry a man I didn’t know anything about – his likes, dislikes, what kind of music he listened to, what books he read and what films he might have seen and whether he was into cars or sport? So many questions but I was adamant this was necessary in order to forge a long and happy marriage – the more things we had in common, that we both liked, the less chance of the big D – divorce. Also attributed to the Pakistani upbringing were many apocryphal stories of couples who had divorced before the end of the honeymoon. One girl literally came home the day after the wedding and refused to return to her seemingly perplexed husband. And always the family on both sides would attempt to come up with a plausible reason for this abrupt volte face. But we young things who listened in horror always imagined a far more sinister explanation.
I do admit that the same habit that one may have found charming at the start may prove to be the breaking point ten years or more into a marriageAhlya Fateh