Pride and Prejudice in Pakistan

Pride & Prejudice PakistanMehndi Wedding Tattoos
Photo by AmnaS via Pixabay

Along with sorting out my tbr, I’m also reading Sonia Kamal’s Unmarriageable: Pride & Prejudice in Pakistan. It is an exquisite marriage (yes, pun!) of all the things I love reading about in literature. It combines a love story that is my favorite of all times, as evidenced by the number of variations I mention here as the best love stories I’ve read, with all the juicy details and inner workings of a different culture. In this case, Pakistan.

Not only am I rooting for Alys Binat and Valentine Darsee to get there lives together and get together, but I am all caught up and loving the details on what they’re reading (swoon), eating and wearing. A true blue book lover appears to have written this novel, and I’m here for it.

In making notes in my head about things I wanted to examine further, I read this section on book pairings that Alys is working on for students in her class. She wants to compare popular English classics with their Pakistani/Indian counterparts stories addressing similar themes. I had to stop immediately and make some notes for the record. I seriously want to take her class.

LOOK AT THE BOOKS

Let’s take a look, shall we?

I’m pairing Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain’s Sultana’s Dream with Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland for utopias. Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan with John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath for family stories alternating with socio-pastoral chapters. Gloria Naylor’s The Women of Brewster Place with Krishan Chander’s short story “Mahalaxmi Ka Pul,” comparing women’s lives. And E.M. Forster’s A Passage To India with Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird for similar racial issues and court cases.

Alys Binat in Soniah Kamal’s Unmarriageable

Alys, along with her sister Jena/Jane, has taken a job as a teacher to help support the shaky Binat finances. The novel begins with her assigning her students the first sentence of Pride & Prejudice and telling them that they must rewrite their own version of the famous line. Kamal’s book takes a decidedly “meta” approach as a P&P retelling. Alys comments about Jena and Bungles as he carries her off to get help for a sprained ankle, “Marianne and Willoughby did not enjoy a happy ending, no matter how promising their start.” Alys refers to the text of Austen’s novels and other works of literature to crystallize her own thoughts on the her family’s circumstances, society at large and in reference to her own love life. Lots of books and literature are examined in the course of this novel, as well as recurring questions and ideas on the effects of colonization and partition.

WHEN I WAS INSPIRED BY THE CLOTHES & FURNISHINGS

In terms of adding accents from this book into my own life, I have visions of this dupatta paired with this dress. They look so elegant and easy and you can literally just do a long drape across your shoulder and it automatically upgrades your outfit.

Alys adjust to her new home on a yellow chenille bedspread. I might need a spring refresh of my own bedding.

Mrs.Binat dresses Jena in a dove gray silk sari for one of the wedding events of an acquaintance. I love this casual gray sweater in the same color. Also intriguing is this coat in a similar color that looks like a dress.

This is not a Chantilly lace sari, but I love this stylish black lace dress.

There is a bunch of colorful clothing mentioned throughout the novel. In spite of being a native New Yorker I find that I’m often the pop of color amongst all the rest of the New Yorkers wearing derigeur black. Fuchsia is big in this novel, and I love this dress and this top in this bold color.This blouse, also in the fuchsia family, is lovely. I love the whole outfit.

BORDER CLOSING CEREMONY

The Pakistani-Indian Border Closing Ceremony.
Wickaam invites Alys to accompany him to the Wagah Border to see the closing ceremony, which is a half hour ritual full of pageantry engaged in by Pakistani and Indian armed forces as a show of both rivalry and brotherhood.

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