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Is domestic abuse, both emotional and physical, a default setting in marriages? Viral Pakistani song Dua-e-Reem calls this out in the setting of a Mehndi ceremony, with the bride speaking up for all women.
Most parents wish to see their daughters happily married. If there is any mention of issues like financial dependence, violence, abuse, oppression, domination are shrugged aside with the lines like ‘things will improve with time’ or better still ‘he is the husband, he has the right’ or ‘that’s how husbands behave’ or even ‘that’s what your father does as a husband’.
Viral Pakistani song Dua-e-Reem is making waves since it speaks about domestic violence – both emotional violence and physical violence that is almost the default for a married woman. This isn’t about a particular nation. It doesn’t berate a community or religion. This isn’t even a song. It is a system of patriarchy in every word.
The lyrics teach us not of superiority of one over other, but of mutual cohabitation. Hats off to the lyricist, Shoaib Mansoor, for penning such meaningful words that explain the plight of the majority of women in marriage.
The viral Pakistani song in the first half, expounds the situation that a married woman might face at her husband’s home.
That as a woman and now a wife I have no religion, that as a woman and wife my only religion is to submit to my husband and his words.
That adultery, physical or mental abuse, domestic violence and marital rape are the usual scenarios for me, and that a woman is supposed to stay quiet and appear happy despite the atrocities back home.
That in every situation, I should keep content by thinking ‘it could have been worse.’
As the song progresses, so does the rage builds, not only for the words spoken but also for the silent attitude of the women present. Really, can no one sense that what has happened, had been happening is wrong morally and ethically?
But thankfully, the second part of the song comes to rescue. The protagonist, the bride to be, for whom the prayers were offered, and blessings given, gets up and asks them to stop.
And I could actually feel I was standing there and shouting ‘STOP’ !
The theme inherent in the song, the lyrics, the music, all echo a single thought. ENOUGH!
That it has been enough.
That yes if it all happened till date, doesn’t mean it should continue the same way.
If my mother tolerated, that is not a norm for me to follow it blindly.
That today, come what may, I WILL NOT TOLERATE THIS.
About subordination and tolerating, yes, we as girls are taught to abide by the rules of the society, the ones laid by the man of the house, as also the men everywhere.
That I need to be a perfect wife even to an imperfect husband.
That the man is complete in himself. And that as a woman I always need the support of a man.
That I need to stay a ‘good’ woman and as a wife, even when my husband forgets humanly values.
That I am here to serve.
That submission is the only trait I need to master no matter what.
A simple songs with routine lyrics but the impact is profound.
The picturisation of this viral Pakistani song also adds volume to the theme inherent in the song.
The elderly ladies nodding at every word, smiling surreptitiously at the inherent meaning, or shall I say at the meaning between the lines demeaning every prayer.
When the song begins, the singer asks the mother to sit beside her daughter, the bride to be. With every line being recited, her expressions depicting misery highlight the situations a married woman faces most of the time, that she as a wife might have faced.
The eye contact between the mother and daughter depict that the daughter is also aware of the situation back home.
The first part, word by word, incites the fumes of anger. So when the daughter shouts ‘Enough!’ it’s not just her voice, it’s the silent voice of everyone present (and the viewer), who are not happy with the situation, but are not courageous enough to openly speak up.
Now begins the second part when the daughter herself starts reciting the prayers for her married life.
She shatters the earlier held belief of men being the superior line by line. Her words explain that even if she is the wife, financially dependent on her husband, she has every right in making the decisions for the household. That she will not silently tolerate and keep num. She knows how to handle situations of abuse and violence. That theirs will be a relationship based on equality and love. She will not be a submissive, subordinate slave to her husband.
Today as a mother or even as a woman, my wish for every other woman is to recognise their rights as a wife and more so as a human being. That it’s never okay to stay quiet, that simple complaining about the situation will never help. That a woman needs to understand when to take a stand for herself, for her self respect.
The lines that stole my heart – that by God’s grace, he is blessed to be born as a man, it’s high time I teach him to become a human.
As a feminist, I was never against the institution of marriage, as a woman I am not against the men. But I desire respect for myself and fellow women.
A relationship is not built on domination but on mutual love and respect, and that is what the relationship of a husband and wife should be. Like a wife knows the likes and dislikes of her husband, the husband too must know his wife’s likes and dislikes. The idea is not to leave her identity but to give her the space to live and grow, That adjustments are mutual. That being together doesn’t mean that they need to clip the wings of the wife, but to let her flourish in her own right.
This is not just a song.
It triggers the emotional chords of heart, touches the sensitive issues faced inside marriage from a women’s perspective. It explains what our silent subjugation has meant for our daughters.
Embrace the change and be supportive of the ones who step out and demand the change. Because this change will not be for her and her alone. This change is for every woman of the planet.
What is termed as a wish by the elderly, is what today I would want to un-wish.
I un-wish a world of male superiority; I wish for equality.
I un-wish subjugation; I wish for cooperation.
I un-wish abuse, non-consensual sex or coerced sex. I wish for my desires to be recognized and respected.
I un-wish a house where I’m not respected, but wish for a home I can happily call my own.
Some songs create music, some weave magic with their lyrics and rhythm. And then there are some that create ripples in otherwise dormant centuries-old norms of society, passed on and followed blindly by generations.
‘It happens like this only’ and ‘this is the way’ are the phrases we use to shrug off new ideas. But that needs to change – it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens gradually, like water seeping through the layers of soil, drop by drop.
The only way to curb oppression is first to recognise that the customs being followed is oppression.
And that is what I felt when I heard this beautiful number, not limited to a class, caste, creed, religion, or even a country. The song beautifully captures the essence of feminism, that it is not against men, or doesn’t demean any institution. It just expresses that love and respect travels both ways and adjustments have to be mutual.
A song that the generations will remember.
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