At age 19, three days into my marriage, I learnt the term “dikhaawa” when my suitcases were unpacked and the contents displayed on chairs and sofas covered in white sheets. My heart went into shock. I felt like I was watching a funeral. For one initial, awful moment my body disconnected from my soul and sleepwalked to the bathroom, where it remained locked in for the next hour.
But back to dikhaawa. I soon discovered it was a way of life, this thing called dikhaawa. It crept into your food, your living room (not your bedroom though, no one went there but you), your car, your clothes and wait! Even your husband.
Those were unique times and for a Karachi girl thrown in to the deep end of Lahore, it was no less than a culture shock .
“What?! You don’t wear jewellery? Do you have any?”
“Hai! You work?” haughty eyes looked you up and down .
“What does your husband do?”
Me, feebly: “He is a banker.”
Haughty lady: “Achaaa.” Silence
I would not exchange that experience for anything.
Back to Karachi and whoom! I bang into dikhaawa. I’m screaming, “Let me go!
I don’t belong here!”
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” said Alice
“Oh you can’t help that,” said the cat, “We are all mad here. I’m mad, you’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” asked Alice
“You must be,” said the cat “or you wouldn’t have come.”
I came. I am here despite the seven layers of makeup, the gleaming four wheeler, the Rolex watches, first class travel, the Birkin bag, the Louboutins, the designer labels and the dikhaawa.
I am here because I love a good fight. I came because I hope.
Fast forward to the Harry-Meghan wedding and the outrage from the chi chi crowd. Meghan Markle, the star actress and soon to be Duchess, walked down the aisle in such splendid style and sophistication that left most in awe.
But hang in there .
Back at the ranch there was rumblings of outrage. How could she be so simple, tacky almost. Why was her dress loose and ill-fitted, why was her hair a mess, why oh why was her face not plastered with makeup, no false eyelashes? What a disaster.
Truth be told Meghan had triumphed like only a few women could have in similar circumstances. She could have been a Grace Kelly or a Diana or a Kate, but she chose to be herself. I call that intelligent dressing.
- Watch this space for more by Maheen Khan.