The marriage proposal

Not too long ago we did an article on the benefits of being a house husband, you can read that here. Now, we take at peek at how girls are prepped for that impending rishta.


Asma called her 22 year old daughter into her room and started with a measured, “Sit Down.”

She went on to say, ‘The boy I told you about, his family’s coming today at five, to see you. That gives you just about enough time, to wash and blow-dry your hair. I’ve told Yasmeen to take out your grey shalwar kameez, I think it’s an elegant and becoming colour on you. Left to your own devices you would probably choose a popping red, or a dirty orange – not very somber, not something a girl from a good family would wear on such an occasion. Remember, you must be on your best behaviour. Try not to smile too much, modesty and shyness are always treasured. Don’t be too forward in your approach – we wouldn’t want them to think you’re experienced. You will be in your room when they arrive. Your father and I will greet them and seat them in the drawing room. Then, we will call for you. It is very important that you do not come before this, of your own accord. It shows too much independence and willingness. Make sure you check yourself in the mirror, before you come down, touch up on any make-up, which reminds me, I’ll tell you how to do your make-up in just a minute. Not the way you usually do it, all that black around your eyes, and red on your lips makes you look like a raccoon on heat.

Hmm… probably get you a decent wax job while we’re at it.

Once you’ve arrived, make sure you greet your potential mother-in-law first, then your potential father-in-law, there is a hierarchy to these things. Under no circumstances are you to greet the boy in question. Do you understand me?’

“Wouldn’t that be rude?”

“No. All this western education has taught you how to approach members of the opposite sex, you must forget all that. Boys from good families don’t want girls who are forward in their approach; over-confident and so think they can talk to complete strangers without being introduced by an authority figure first. Which brings me to my next point. Do not appear approachable. Another thing boys don’t like in their potential wives, approachability. It means you are easy. Remember, you must not be easy. Once you’ve greeted them, excuse yourself to check on the refreshments in the kitchen. Return in three minutes. When the tea trolley comes, which should be shortly after, make sure you get up to make the tea, pour slowly and try not to spill.

There is a hierarchy to hospitality. Make sure you serve his mother – your potential mother-in-law first, then his father and under no circumstances are you to approach him. That would be highly immodest, something your western education seems to have beaten out of you.  Leave that up to Yasmeen. Under no circumstances are you to make eye-contact. Only speak when spoken to.  When you answer questions, make sure you’re voice is soft, high-pitched is ok, but control the volume. Make sure you blush profusely, in fact excuse yourself and pinch your cheeks a few times if its not coming naturally. Keep your eyes lowered at all times.

Try not to squint dear, it crinkles your face up so.

Do not interrupt, even if you have something pressing to add to the conversation. In fact, you must appear to know less about the subject of conversation regardless of the truth behind this. You don’t want to intimidate the boy and his family with your so-called intelligence. You must not be opinionated. Only speak when spoken to, and when spoken to, make sure your answer is agreeable and compatible with the opinions of your in-laws.”

“What if they each have differing opinions?”

Asma was caught off-guard, she hadn’t thought about this. After a few seconds of contemplation she responded, “Then you stay quiet, smile, blush and pretend like you know nothing. Have you not been listening?” she added impatiently and to mask her lack of preparation for such a question.

“When you feel, they are coming to the point of fulfilling the purpose of their visit, i.e. extending a formal proposal, excuse yourself politely, and do not reappear until we call you – that would make you appear, independent. Remember, never to appear independent – that’s intimidating, or approachable – that’s slutty.”

“What if the boy talks to me?”

Gasp!! The very idea!

“So you plan on disregarding everything I’ve just told you and appearing approachable after all? I knew I shouldn’t have sent you abroad for a college degree. You can’t help but be an approachable slut.”

Zainab Shah is an aspiring chef and writer, currently living in New York.

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Categories: A Shot at Love

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One Comment on “The marriage proposal”

  1. syeda zahra
    September 11, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

    hilariously true!!

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