I just finished skimming through HumTV’s Samdhan, a label for the relationship between a man/woman and his or her child’s mother-in-law. The story is about, the drama tells us at the end, the three women that are in-laws through their children and preaches forgiveness above all else. I had such a problem with the ending of this drama, that I felt that I just had to get my thoughts down on paper. And once you write it down, why not post it, right?
Throughout the actual drama, we see the story of Aafia and her mother, Rabia. Aafia is a working girl, and has a good government job. She does not want to get married, because she is worried about what will happen to her mother. Rabia has another daughter, who, due to being married, cannot take care of her mother, and she has one son. The son is shown to be under the complete control of his wife, a woman who has convinced him that his mother is a woman who basically sleeps around and has bad character. Aafia has vowed that she will not marry, unless she can bring her mother into the household as well. Fareed, played by Saleem Shaikh, agrees to accept Rabia into his home, and Aafia agrees to marry him.
Once Rabia and Aafia enter the home, Fareed’s mother, Najma, under the influence of her daughter’s mother-in-law, named Jamila, begins to suspect Rabia of trying to seduce her husband. Najma also sees signs that Rabia may be doing voodoo on her family, and reaches her limit the day she sees her husband die in Rabia’s arms. Jamila is the mastermind behind all of this, because she wants to free Fareed, so that he can marry her own daughter, Nimra. Rabia is an innocent woman in all of this, who seems to be incapable of seeing the bad in anyone. Under the influence of others, because apparently she doesn’t have a brain of her own, Najma blames Rabia for everything and demands that Fareed kick Rabia out of the house. Fareed agrees, and, while his wife is pregnant and unconscious, makes a deal with Rabia’s son to take his mother into his home in exchange for some sort of deal.
When Aafia goes to her brother’s house to get her mother, Rabia has disappeared due to the poisonous words of her daughter-in-law. In an attempt to stop Aafia from searching, Fareed makes a deal with the police to pretend that a body they found was Rabia’s. At this point, Fareed has gotten tired of Aafia’s refusal to forget about her mother, and has stated that he only wants his child. He doesn’t care what happens to Aafia after the birth of their child. Aafia finds out through a news broadcast that her mother is in a charity home, and she goes rushing to get her mom. After a successful retrieval, Aafia tells Fareed that she is leaving him and ultimately gives him permission to marry another if he chooses to do so.
While Aafia is setting up a life of her own, getting an apartment and a job, Fareed immediately marries Nimra. Nimra agrees to marry him, if he will sign over the house to her. Fareed’s mother pushes Fareed to accede to all of Nimra’s wishes, because she wants Nimra to be her daughter-in-law. Aafia starts working for a man named Zain, who immediately falls in love with her, even though she is still pregnant and married. Fareed sees Aafia with Zain, and starts making demands that she stay away from this man. While Zain openly pursues her, Aafia wants nothing to do with any man after what Fareed did to her.
Nimra comes into the household and begins playing the same manipulative games with Najma, wanting to get her out of the house. Eventually, Fareed and Najma realize that Nimra and Jamila were to blame for everything. Because, apparently, their own gullibility and peanut-sized brains had nothing to do with it. Fareed and Najma apologize to Aafia, who wants nothing to do with them. Aafia has the baby, and the two want to meet and take care of the baby. Nimra conveniently dies in a car accident, and Jamila, at death’s door, realizes the error of her ways. When Aafia now tries to get a divorce, her mother slaps her for her temerity to divorce a guy that cheated on her and kicked her mother out of her home. Zain then comes along, as an angel, and coerces Aafia into admitting that she still loves the loser, Fareed. Fareed and Aafia reunite, and Zain is left alone.
That ending just made me so angry. What is the drama trying to teach with this inane forgiveness? Aafia suffered at the hands of this man. I could never understand why this woman, who has fought all of this time for her mother, would forgive a man that turned her mother out of his house without caring about where she would go or what she would do. He knew what her son was like, but he salved his conscience by making that deal and turning her away. What a joke. The drama was innovative in showing that just because a daughter marries, doesn’t mean she forgets about her parents. This girl loved her mother so much, that she fought for her until the end. I liked and respected her for that; I understood her inability to let go of her bitterness and to turn to another. And then, the drama just gives in to cliches and has the wife return to the repentant bastard that made her life hell. Not only that, the drama shows Najma and Rabia forgiving Jamila, and bringing her into their home. Maybe forgiveness is good for the soul, but that doesn’t mean you have to thrust yourself back into that hellhole. I could understand Aafia forgiving Fareed, because holding on to that hate would only hurt her, but why did she have to go back to him? Because our culture demands such a thing?
Not only did this questionable ending happen in this drama, but another such ending happened in ARY Digital’s Bahu Rani. The loser husband believed everything his manipulative mother fed him about his wife, the wife ran away from her husband’s home when she couldn’t stand the abuse anymore, and the husband, instead of going after her, married the woman of mommy dearest’s choice. Only when the mom realizes her mistakes, does hubby come crawling back to his wife to apologize. And this woman not only forgives him, she goes back to him, and is willing to share her husband and house with the woman that plotted with her mother-in-law to oust her from the house! What does this teach women in our society?
It is this lack of self-respect and inability to be anything beyond a housewife that gets women in the end. In an episode of Kitni Girhain Baki Hain, another HumTV drama, the story hammered in the point of what a woman will have to suffer in a husband just because she has no other options. In the story, a woman’s husband rapes her sister, and, instead of him getting the punishment he deserved, the woman begs her sister and mother to forgive the man because she would have no one to support her children. The brother could have stepped in and taken responsibility, but he didn’t. The mother had no recourse, according to the drama, but to forgive her daughter’s rapist. The drama was heavy handed in showing how we cripple our daughters by putting marriage above education, a career, and a means to support themselves. But the drama could have also showed the mom saying, “Look. We’ll put up with it for a while. Get training, a job and support your own damn kids.” But no, she forgives her daughter’s rapist and the daughter has to live with that wound of being raped and the thought of knowing that her rapist is out free.
It amazes me what kind of stories these channels show. The reality of today is not the same as the reality of before. Then why do we have to see women eternally suffer and forgive the person that hurts them? I wish that the stories would move beyond this archaic mindset, and show us a woman that isn’t afraid to move on. Especially, when there is a strong and good man, waiting to marry them and cherish them they way their husbands wouldn’t.