FAMILY – 12th October 2011

Family is an interesting concept in Pakistan. A guy lives at home until he gets married, his wife moves into his parents’ house = mum, dad, siblings and new couple and the cycle continues. Only if the house is too small will the couple move to their own house.

Family matters in Pakistan. I work in a company that has 6000 plus people, HR circulates death announcements of family members every week. So you get emails, ‘ so and so’s mother passed away, so and so’s grandmother passed away’.

There are no secrets with this kind of tightly-knit family society. E.g. Junaid is seen holding girl’s hand in public, Junaid is spotted by neighbor, neighbor reports to Junaid’s cousin, Junaid’s cousin tells parents, Junaid gets in trouble…so Junaid comes to Jere’s house to have time alone with his girlfriend. I guess that’s what happens when people don’t give each other space, they are always in each other’s business.

Here, you depend on family for everything, even a wife/ husband. A girl older than me, smart, educated and well-travelled told me she feels ‘foolish’ when it comes to relationships with boys, and so she’ll let her parents deal with it and arrange her marriage. Because her family is liberal she will get to meet the boy before the wedding day…That is yet another addition to my growing list of relative terms-  ‘liberal’.

Sidenote: in my opinion, family is the only thing that makes these people conservative. If they can operate in secret, my friend … to put it simply, a friend got involved with one Pakistani girl. Now he is harassed on the daily…as in girl comes into house, closes door, removes clothes and instructs ‘do it quickly’.  She feels safe ‘cause he’s a foreigner, it will never get back to her family…btw, its not uncommon to hear of both of them being killed for engaging in pre-marital sex…killed by who? Possibly her brothers or her father…killed by family.

Moving on. I have no family here. I was going through my emails and I saw an email from my nephew from last year on my birthday (off course his mum wrote it, but hey, it was cute) 2 lines stood out to me ‘…thanks for making time to see me…I know you are a busy man…’ hmm, too busy for family at 23…now that I have a greater appreciation of family (yeah yeah, I know absence makes the heart grow fonder blabla) I think that’s a pretty sad habit– being too busy for family, a habit is actually what it is.

Cheers to the blessing that is family!

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