Patriarchy strikes again. This time, a Christian girl falls on the receiving end, and mind you, this is not the first case of its kind – and as much as I hate to say this, it certainly is not the last. Asma Yaqoob was set ablaze by Muhammad Rizwan in Sialkot for turning down a marriage proposal – in other words, for having a say in matters that concerned her fate. According to the victim’s family, Rizwan was an acquaintance of Asma’s brother and had “fallen in love” with the victim. Rizwan had asked Asma to convert to Islam and marry him. Upon refusal, Rizwan turned from an ‘unconditional lover’ to an egoistic monster and set the victim alight. Asma succumbed to her burns on Sunday night. This case is one example of how men – well, scores of men – are trained in such a way that they tend to believe a straight up “no” from a woman is a criminal offence. Quite the contrary, a “no” is an expression of one’s personal choice and thus, must be respected. Now, if rejection fumes us, exasperates us, and makes us believe that it might lead us to violent tendencies, God forbid, we must take a quick look at the following text before we call recall our next move. A woman is not an item we can simply purchase from a nearby store. She’s a human being, with the equal right to choose one thing or another and decide what’s good or bad for her. More so, she definitely has the right to reject us, so there’s no particular need to consider it a violation of our self-established ego. Moreover, it should not come as a surprise to us, because we can be rejected too. There might be reasons that a woman may not feel attracted towards us. And it’s not always about us thinking that we’re not good enough – although we should never rule out the possibility of this. But it could just be that she might prefer a different kind of personality, different traits. Or maybe, to her, we are just not what she’s been looking for. This, however, should in no way challenge our masculinity and turn us into a violent, barbaric beast. I realise this isn’t the most ideal of examples, but let’s just put it in a way that will resonate with most men: suppose we are a Volkswagen, but she prefers a Toyota. Disappointed? We shouldn’t be. Because, there definitely will be someone who desires the key to our heart too. Furthermore, we have a huge ego problem in our parts of the world. How dare she reject us, we wonder. Well, she just did. Let’s just accept this heart-wrenching reality and move on. It sure is a bitter pill, but we better swallow it sooner than later. I understand that our society tells us to dictate a woman, and resultantly, we may get our desired lady. But trust me on the fact that it’s a smokescreen – a blatant lie. Like I said before, things do not work this way. Last but not least, we cannot force someone to love us. Love is a pure feeling of affection and care. At least, that’s how I would describe it. If we have fallen for someone, that should mean we have promised ourselves to always pray for their happiness and prosperity – with or without us. And if we describe love as an unconditional urge to force someone to be with us, in which case, if they resist, they ought to bear the consequences for disobeying, then I am sorry, but we really need to sort ourselves out. Published in Daily Times, April 26th 2018.