By Gulrukh Tausif
“Married for three years? Why don’t you have children yet?”
“You are still single? Why didn’t you marry?”
“What’s your husband’s salary? “Are you happy with your husband? What time does he get home?”
“What grades did your children get?”
Sometimes I feel that we have no concept of what it means to mind our own business. During any family function, various aunties ask the most personal questions without batting an eyelid and to add salt to injury, offer advice, comments and solutions that would put psychologists, paediatricians, gynecologists and marriage counselors to shame. Many times, these opinions result from genuine concern and sympathy but there are occasions when women poke their noses into other people’ s affairs out of sheer malice, spite and thirst for gossip.
One of my dearest friends is a mother to a lovely daughter. For the past 17 years, one question that gets asked of her every time she is in a family gathering is “Do you have only one daughter? Why didn’t you have more children?” I wonder what makes people think that they have any right to ask such personal questions? And this is usually followed by “My daughter had four children within 5 years of her marriage. Allah has given her a complete family.’ So having daughters is not equal to having a “family” in their opinion?
A mother of two daughters gets to hear, “Oh two daughters. Now you should really try for a son.” As if trying for a son involves some secret recipe that is known only to a blessed few. One unmarried friend gets to hear, “You are still single? Why aren’t you married yet?” Married friends get asked, “How do you get along with your mother-in-law? Is she possessive about her son?’
One of my friends decided to delay having children after she got married to complete her education. “Everyone would ask me, “Why aren’t you having children? Is there a problem? Have you consulted a doctor?” she recalls with a laugh. “It was so hard to attend social functions as it seemed that I had become the focus of everyone’s attention, in fact almost an obsession just because I was childless for three years.”
Mothers-in-law get asked, “What time does you bahu get up? How many times a week does she go to her parents’ house? Does she help in household work?”
As a society, we seem to have a penchant for poking our noses into affairs of everyone around us. We ask the most private and personal questions and are offended if a person tries to maintain his dignity or privacy. We seem to thrive on gossip, with women being its most expert practitioners and ironically its most vulnerable target.
“You look tired.” “You seem dark.” “Have you gained weight?” “Didn’t you wear this dress in last week’s party too?” The comments that are made and opinions that are aired are usually aimed to make the other person feel inferior and embarrassed.
Isn’t it time we stopped interfering in matters that have absolutely nothing to do with us. We never realize how much we can hurt people with our seemingly innocent remarks and questions. We never know how much a childless couple is hurting and maybe they don’t need to know that other people are discussing them. Maybe they are not ready for children or there’s a medical issue or other problems that they don’t want to disclose.
Perhaps an unmarried girl has taken responsibility of her aged parents or younger siblings and has not found a life partner who is willing to share her problems. Unless we are in a position to genuinely help her, maybe we could refrain from making her realize that she is growing older and there are no “rishtas” for old spinsters in our society. She definitely does not need to hear” Umer nikal gaye to rishta nahin milay ga.”
A whiff of a broken marriage or engagement can send these aunties in a state of tizzy. They can’t rest unless they get to know all the details of how, when why, what and kia huwa and kiya ho ga. And all the details are whispered from one ear to another with lots of “mirch masala” till the story resembles an 800 episode long Indian soap.
A wise person once said, “To be busy minding other people’s business, is to leave one’s personal business unattended to. While you are too busy minding other people’s business, who is busy minding yours?”
Making personal remarks or asking intrusive questions are not healthy for relationships. If someone asks you for help, advice or opinion feel free to air your ideas, otherwise it would be better for us to stop interfering into things that are no concerns of ours.
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