THE MODERN CINDERELLA (an old article in The Review.. Dawn)

The news of Rubina’s divorce was sad, but I knew my college friend too well to be surprised. She was a day dreamer and never tired of talking about her ideal, whom she was going to find somewhere and some day (and perhaps somehow), tie the nuptial knot and live happily with, ever after. After university was over, she turned down many good proposals because the man demanding her hand did not match her ideal. But after her parents had had enough of her idealistic views, they decided to put their foot down.

Rubina reluctantly had to succumb to their pressure and consent to the proposal of Sajid. He was an average looking man, who lived in an average house and had an average income. But Rubina’s parents felt he had a bright future as he was well qualified and very hard working. Rubina just couldn’t compromise with her marriage and the loss of her ideal, holding a grudge in her inner heart against Sajid, for proposing and marrying her. All his efforts to please her and lead a normal married life went in vain. The sad end was inevitable!

As children all of us have heard the tale of Cinderella. We have read it out to our children when we became mothers and some of us may have told it to their grandchildren. The tale holds a universal charm and no one can resist falling in love with Cinderella, the beautiful but oppressed girl, who was abused and maltreated by her stepmother and scorned by her step sisters.

Unhappy because she had been left behind, while her stepsisters happily proceeded to the ball (where the Prince was about to chose his bride), Cinderella was helped by her fairy god-mother. Her rags were transformed into a beautiful gown, a pumpkin into a carriage and rats into horses. She went to the ball looking and feeling like a princess and immediately won the heart of the Prince. Whenever we read the fairy tale we sympathize with her and feel happy and relieved when in the end of the story she has the final laugh.

The modern Cinderella is just the opposite of the legendary Cinderella. The temperament of the simple girl, who lost her glass slipper in her hurry to reach home before the fairy god-mother’s charm expired, is nowhere to be found now. Instead of the Prince Charming, who combed the city in search of the beautiful young owner of the lost slipper, and who he had decided to marry, our modern Cinderella has taken just the opposite role!

The ideal sherwani has taken the place of the delicate slipper and the modern lass is in quest of her Prince Charming who will fit into it. Her requirements are unrealistic and sometimes bizarre! She is in search of a tall, broad, dashing young man who has charming manners, an income exceeding the six digit number, lives in a sprawling mansion and drives the latest model of aToyotaor Honda Accord (or better still a BMW). When she finds the Prince Charming who fits into her imaginary sherwani, she ties the knot with him hoping to live happily ever after.

There are times when the modern Cinderella tires or is disheartened because her search is not successful. Sometimes she has to give in to family pressure and is forced to soften her stance, let go of some of the qualities of her ideal Prince and settle for a bit less. Although the ideal sherwani does not fit the Prince properly, she chooses to look away. But in her inner heart she holds a deep grudge against life (and her spouse), and this sense of disappointment prevents her from enjoying the pleasures life gives her. Often her marriage (which she considers a compromise) is not as successful as Cinderella once dreamt about and in her frustration she ends it on the pettiest of pretext (one of the reasons why we see a rising ratio of broken or unsuccessful marriage in our society).

What our modern Cinderella fails to realize is that no one is perfect in this World and the Prince Charming she is searching for,  only exists in fairy tales. But since life is not a fairy tale there is nothing like an “ideal” or “they lived happily ever after”! Though we are free to dream, we should realize that all our dreams can not come true. Many compromises have to be made in a married life and many flaws of a spouse have to be overlooked. A successful life is not one in which we get whatever we desire or dream of, but one in which we make the most of all that which life gives us!

The key to a content and happy marriage is to make the most of our Prince-not-so-Charming’s best traits and adjusting to his short comings and realizing the fact that in his turn he is also doing the same!  

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