The Contract-a contractual marriage story

Contractual marriage is a relatively new concept that is worth exploring in the backdrop of the orthodox society of Indian sub continent ,which was accomplished with ease by Zeenat Mahal in her romantic novella-‘The contract’.
The theme of the story is set in the elite society of modern day Pakistan.
The curtain of the story is lifted in the house of Shahira- a separated charming lady in her early thirties living alone with her mother and only son and happens to be a teacher by profession! One day she returned home only to discover that-“her mother fighting for breath, her face pale and her eyes rolling in her head.” She took her to hospital only to declared brought dead! Now she had been often started to be visited by Natasha-her student and her grandmother. And one day the grandmother put up a proposal before her-to marry Hussain, father of Natasha, also without a wife. Grandmother’s logic seemed acceptable to her-in the male dominated society of Pakistan ,wolves and vultures around her can make her life miserable and even threatening her dignity!
A week later her phone rang early in the morning. It was Hussain-the prospective bride who had called her –not to talk of romance! It was rather a twist in the tale. It was accusation-he thought she must’ve found his daughter a easy prey and his mother a soft target to emotionally blackmail them in thirst of riches of Hussain.(he is a business tycoon in his forties!).He got a fitting reply and she thought it was the end of the episode!
But it was not. His mother rang her again to further twist the tale-she told her that he has started to develop a liking for her. Then Hussain rang her and then came a jaw dropping proposal from him. In the words of the writer- My offer is that we get married in a purely business transaction. You’ll appear to be, to all practical purposes, my wife. However, between the two of us, we’ll know that you are in fact my wife in name only. Think of it as…employment. I’ll pay you a regular salary. I’ll continue to live as I do now, without any ties or matrimonial pressures, as will you. If you agree, the marriage vows can be taken on the phone on Saturday, since I have an hour free in the morning.”
The denial was prompt but when she thought over it-her mind unconsciously got inc
lined towards the proposal. She lived a life of sufferings, torment and pain in the house of her ex husband and this man was offering him money with his own identity. Then she rang him again and literally bargained hard over the terms and conditions of the marriage. (Seriously, I’m not joking!). And on one Saturday, she got herself converted to Mrs. Hussain.
After marriage, she discovered that Hussain is reluctant to family life. She was well mixed with the family of Hussain and discovered that he loved to live inside a cocoon. Even he was apathetical in attending social functions embracing his own family.
Is there any past that still haunts Hussain? Is there any wound deep inside his mind that is still unhealed?
Slowly she started to get an answer. Let us present a bit of conversation between them and to see whether the reader has any clue “I guess our contract, if left that way, would allow you to be that but I really do want to help with the kids. I’ve wanted a real family for so long. I always did but that woman took it all away from me. You could be the woman to give it all back to me, Shahira…if you wanted. I really wish you would.”
It seemed to Shahira that the air stilled; everything stopped, waited on bated breath for her response, but her voice was stuck in her throat and her heart sank in dismay and dread. She wasn’t ready for that level of sharing. She couldn’t trust him. Not another man who would hurt her and use and abuse her, turn her into a cipher because of his own limitations. A part of her brain said that Hussain was not that kind of man, that he was emotionally secure and good-hearted. But she man, that he was emotionally secure and good-hearted. But she couldn’t find her voice.”

What will happen in the climax? Could he regain his confidence in the woman? Could she regain his trust and love to the man? And more importantly will the marriage of convenience can take a transition to the marriage of love and trust?
You have to read this sweet romantic novella to discover it –
The characterisation of the two protagonists are near perfect-Hussain as a man who was hurt in his family life and taking shelter inside the safe haven of his work, and Shabira as a woman who had such a bad experience of man that she has to think twice before trusting a man!
She wrote with a commendable way of storytelling. However it will be our pleasure if the unique cultural identity and multi layered society of Pakistan can be revealed in a more detailed way through this novel.
Ultimately in our judgment it’s a good read –presenting a gradual transition of relation with seesawing of relations.
And what happened ultimately?
One clue-marriages are made in heaven……

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