The Trolley Conundrum

Ms. Single shows you the other side of the equation – the home front – in this installment of Single in the City
SingleintheCityimageBeing an educated, highly ambitious and an overall successful career woman in her mid-twenties (the last one is just an exaggeration) means that my parents are unfailingly disappointed in me. This is because, along with all those traits, I have one fatal flaw. I am 26 years old, living in Pakistani society and still single.

Most of the aunty jees probably gave a collective gasp right now, followed by a nod of disapproval. “What’s wrong with her?” they’re doubtless wondering. Is she fat? Is she ugly? Is she really stupid? Doesn’t she know how to cook?

Anyway, we are talking about the single greatest sin a woman can commit in Pakistan, staying single

Anyway, we were talking about the single greatest sin a woman can commit in Pakistan, staying single. This single-hood has helped unleash a side of my mother I had never seen before. Her entire life now revolves around one purpose, getting her daughter married off. The worst part is through constant emotional blackmail and feeding him nonsense about how I would be living with them forever (that really scared him), she now has my father on her side. If emotional blackmail was a degree, my mother would easily have had a doctorate by now. Her tactics have now been practiced to perfection; start off by cooking my favorite dinner and hit me with a “By the way, some larka walas are coming to see you tomorrow” right when I have my face stuffed and can’t speak or object. This is followed by a typical “I don’t want you to die alone”, “What will people think?”, “I just want you to be happy” lecture which ends with her bursting into tears and the winning line “Can’t you do this much for your mother?” I sigh my sigh of defeat and she smiles her smile of victory.

Of course, I have to fight back somehow. My house is an all out battlefield and my weapon of choice to ward off the ‘rishta’ aunties? The much coveted “Trolley”.

During these ominous meetings, the most crucial moment is when the girl brings in the trolley (yes, we still do that). The contents of the food trolley, how she brings it in, how she shies away from eye contact and how she serves the food to her prospective in-laws are what will seal her future. Because, let’s face it, what else makes a better wife than one who knows how to push a trolley and put food on a plate without daring to look at the people with whom she might spend the rest of her life.

I look right into all my to-be mummy in-laws eyes when I talk to them

So I break the rules. I refuse to push it. I never serve the food. And I look right into all my to-be mummy in-laws eyes when I talk to them. Sometimes, I don’t even bother to take a plate; just eat that samosa straight off that trolley. Let the crumbs fall on that carpet. And when the families are exceptionally obnoxious, I even talk with my mouth full. The horror!

During one such meeting, the mother, an obnoxious lady with an ego the size of her behind, spent an hour trying to gather information about my hair stylist, my wardrobe designer and my favorite brands for bags, clothes, shoes, perfumes; basically, everything inconsequential. When she found out that my hair stylist was a two year old wooden hairbrush, my wardrobe designer the seasonal Al-Karam magazine and my favorite brands were anything I could get at Sunday Bazaar, she squirmed in her seat as though she was trying to summon every ounce of will power to not run out of our house.

It was the food trolley that finally pushed her over the edge. After eating platefuls of chicken sandwiches, patties and brownies, she asked the fateful question

“This food is delicious. Pie in the sky ka hai (Is this all from Pie in the Sky?)”

I looked at my mother and she looked back, her eyes pleading with me to stay quiet.

“No! It’s from Ideal Bakery. That is all we can afford.”

She had had enough. Without further ado, off she went.

And although it breaks my heart to do this to my mother, there is no amount of guilt a big tub of chocolate ice-cream  can’t get rid of.

Comments
5 Responses to “The Trolley Conundrum”
  1. AM says:

    Going through that screening is painful, tolerating those aunties is a horrible job (especially the one, “with an ego the size of her behind 😀 ) and their Pharaoh like attitude “I can make/spoil your life”. I wish their attitude were punishable by law.

    But one thing you need to understand, your mother’s concerns are real and essence of a lifetime experience. Don’t take her worries lightly and see the big picture, the enthusiasm of 20s will be gone within next decade and you’ll still have (may be 3 other decades) to live without the thrilling passions of youth. It’s a natural course of life, pick and mate and stick to him/her through a social agreement (aka marriage)

  2. MrSingle says:

    LOL! I completely agree with you. What you have mentioned is something very true and it’s very unfortunate… however, I would like to Thank you for writing this as reading this has made my day. I am not mocking you or something, I really was in a bad mood and your post sort of cheered me up.. although the situation you’re going through is unfortunate and something to be sad about but even then it did bring a smile on my face.. perhaps the smile isn’t because of the ‘situation’ you are going through but because someone had the courage to write about it.. perhaps other women who read this and are going through the same situation might realize that they are not the only one’s going through this and might get some relief

  3. Adam says:

    Judging by a teeny evaluation of your ideals through your articles before sifting through the comments,some can understand why you’re still single.
    But hey! Rather stay single and munch on Ideal Bakery goodies than jump on the trolley(read:bandwagon)

  4. Ms. Single says:

    Ideals are like clothes, my friend. People change them like they do clothes, as per need and occasion. I don’t know what your evaluation is based on, but if it is on ideals alone, then it stands insignificant in a society that functions entirely on hypocrisy.

  5. Adam says:

    I believe I can learn a great deal from you..more of life and other travesties than of women. Don’t mean to come on to you but I’d actually appreciate it if we got in touch.

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