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Shela’s Shadi Studio: Chapter 1 ‘The Feminist Rishta Aunty’

Shela’s Shadi Studio: Chapter 1 ‘The Feminist Rishta Aunty’

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A page from Shela’s journal. Dated Oct 17, 2020.

Is there anything more ironic than a twice divorced 50 year old rishta aunty trying to convince young girls to give up their freedom and settle down with men who were told all their lives that their destiny shined brighter than Aladdin’s magic lamp?

Even an ill-proportioned blue genie with Will Smith’s head couldn’t do anything for some of the recent portfolios I’ve received of ‘extremely eligible bachelors’.

I don’t think a lot of my clients know I’m a feminist, and how could they, with the business I’m in. The whole rishta fraternity is lousy with women who haven’t moved on form the Indo-Pak partition. Just yesterday, when Hina came over to drop off a few files of her clients, I asked her if she wanted to get high and she said, “Jee Shela, some chai would be nice.” Such prudes, I swear. They give the whole business a rotten stench.

My first husband and I were a perfect match, we saw everything eye to eye, along with finding men attractive. It was a bit of a shock at first, but I’d never had a male friend before and our platonic relationship was happier than many marriages I have witnessed. But our union meant he was trapped in a relationship which only kept him from being who he was. After two years of convincing his family and mine that the marriage couldn’t work due to ‘irreconcilable differences’ we finally divorced and he immigrated to Canada. That was close to twenty-five years ago. While our relationship is not was it is, Ahmed and I have always tried to keep in touch. He’s happily married to an Irish man and they’ve just adopted their second baby.

To be honest, Ahmed – who goes by AD now – taught be how to be a feminist, he showed me my value was more than my body and my youth. Surprisingly, that is something you’re a bit confused about when you grow up in the 80’s.

I went to the Aurat march last year, and if it hadn’t been for the horrendous coronavirus pandemic, I would have gone this year as well. I made my sign myself, it said, “Mera rishta, meri marzi”. That’ll show that old nasty dog, what’s his name, Khalil something.

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