A couple of days ago, during my usual Facebook procrastination, I came across this image which a friend had shared, and my nerve endings went numb. Not because the image was painful or NSFW, or even gory, but because it resonated with me on a deeper level.
I shared the image with another friend who called it “unsettling”, but I believe that the image had to be the most powerful one I had ever seen.
A lot of you might have already seen it, and after a little research I found out that this image dawned from “Khamoshi”, a bridal couture collection by designer Ali Xeeshan, which apparently addressed the taboo of child marriage, and also is a part of a small film by Abdullah Haris.
You can watch the film here!
Now, I’m not here to talk about child marriage or the horrors of the situation itself. I’m here to talk about something else- another crucial yet sad thing this image reflects.
Notice the bride’s expressionless, tired, sorrowful face. Notice the happy, bustling people surrounding her, and manhandling her. And most importantly, notice the lock placed on her lips.
The lock signifies the silence that is forced on a bride, regardless of the situation, or the standard. It tells you about how the bride-to-be isn’t allowed a say in her own wedding festivities- ranging from not getting to choose her spouse to not being allowed to arbitrate the wedding party. What’s worse is that her smile (God forbid one exists) is shamed on during the proceeds of her OWN wedding.
And this injustice hails from continuation of bland, rusted cultural marital pressures- both on the family, and on the victim.
And desi families are so accustomed to these pressures and expectations, that they’ve blurred the line between necessary and pathetic. In desi cultures, it is never about the bride (or the groom). It is first and foremost and ALWAYS about society. Each action, each function, each decision is only finalised after weighing it on a societal importance scale, which we are more familiar with as, “log kya kahenge?”
According to some people (and unfortunately people I know), they believe that you can only function as a part of society if you’re willing to accept everything they believe in, no questions asked. And I find all of this supremely foolish.
WHY is your hunger for acceptance and admirance so distressing that you’ve allowed yourself to be encompassed in idiocy? WHY is your respect in society so important to you that you’re willing to spend on superficialities rather than essentials? WHY do you think random people who you say hello to in passing hold more substance than the people inside your own home? WHY are other’s amusements more influential than your kid’s?
People like me are accustomed to rebuke, especially when we put the words “simple” and “wedding” in the same sentence. Its sad, really. I had read this quote once, on instagram I believe, which went something like this-
“In today’s world if someone were to have a simple wedding, people would think it’s because they’re poor.” (or stingy)
I don’t know about anyone else, but for me, having a grand wedding will be robbing me of my credibility. Sure, most people don’t really care about stuff like that. But I do. As a staunch believer and supporter of “No Band. No Baaja. No Baraat.”, it is horrifying to be silenced and blackmailed into accepting and giving into cultural pressure.
If only the elders opened their eyes to reality, then maybe, just maybe they’ll reform.
You can visit Ali Xeeshan’s Instagram at @alixeeshantheaterstudio