Pakistan and the Love Conundrum - by Umamah Asif Burney

Love is a taboo topic for some and a beautiful blessing for others but let me tell you something love is an extension of human beings. We crave love, and it is love that gives us purpose. So cutting through the poetic philosophy or chase to Pakistan and the many rules of love in Pakistan.


Elif Shafak wrote a book called the 40 rules of love, but in my opinion, forty is not a big enough number for Pakistan. It is the love for the divine and the divine’s creation. Love is a confusing and scary thing. It makes you vulnerable, and you carry your secrets on your skin with your heart in your mouth with the fear of spilling it but to navigate this in Pakistan with its boundaries and rules of intimacy and culture is not for the faint-hearted. Love in itself is the driving force of the community, which is called social capital.


From dramas showcasing beautiful love stories resulting in happy endings to novels that depict new paths of love to the many ghazals and poems that deliver beautiful, fearless, and painful love in the most beautiful lines and musical notes. The fictitious tropes of enemies to lovers, the star crossed lovers, the selfless dying sweetheart, the whispered promises of future in times of war and many more have made even the steeliest of the cold-hearted hope for a miracle of their own.


On the other hand, the very same display of love is also criticized. Love marriages are sneered at, and even though a happy marriage symbolises the very happily ever after, it is subjected to scorn with displays of affection ridicule. Of course, our movies and dramas are in the business of selling dreams, but the reality is different. Perhaps because of this bleakness, the hope for a grand force that knows no borders understands no norms keeps us hoping that we might have our own bit of magic.


This little beacon-like our very own Hogwarts letter is what sells red roses and heart-shaped balloons on valentine’s day despite the censure from the right-wing traditionalists. The wrongness or rightness of the issue stands on its own, but this idea of love sold and nurtured is now a whole industry. If it is a yearning that all carry within themselves, then why is it shunned, perhaps because of the gut-wrenching ghazals that fall on our hearts before they touch our ears,


It may be owed to the poets and the writers that mould stories that restore our belief in love in just under an hour and then snatch it away as the hero lays dying in the hospital, having lied to his sweetheart that he was already married because he could not bear to tell her that his days were numbered. The power love holds on us comes from the desire to be remembered, be seen and heard as we are, and then be adored and cherished for it.