What did we learn from the wall-to-wall coverage?
So, after claiming (a tad disingenuously) that the rumours of his marriage were ‘greatly exaggerated’, Imran Khan finally bit the bullet and got married a second time round. His new begum, Reham Khan, is a lovely, lissome, long-haired beauty, cast in the same mould as his ex-wife, Jemima Khan (who has since announced that she intends to revert to her maiden name, Goldsmith, now that there is a new Mrs Khan on the scene).
But amid the wall-to-wall coverage in Pakistan, India and Britain (where Jemima – and hence Imran – is still a staple of the gossip pages), and the many, many jokes doing the rounds of social media, there are still some things that stood out in the Imran-weds-Reham coverage.
So here, in no particular order of importance, is what we learnt:
• It doesn’t matter how old, or how important, a man is. When it comes to marriage, his immediate family will always have strong views – and won’t be afraid of airing them in front of the international media. So, even though Imran is now a venerable 62, his sisters still managed to throw a hissy fit about his marrying a woman they did not approve of. They had no idea about the wedding, they snorted, and in any case, they had no intention of attending. So, that’s one in your face, Reham. On the brighter side, things can only look up from here.
• As that old cliché goes, a second marriage represents a triumph of hope over experience. But sometimes experience plays a role in the choice of the new spouse as well. So, after years of trying to make his ‘multicultural’ marriage to Jemima work (though frankly, she had to do most of the work: adjusting to life in Pakistan, learning Urdu, adopting the salwar-kameez, bringing up two boys, and coping with the anti-Semitic attacks of the Urdu press) Imran has chosen a woman who he has much more in common with. Reham was born of Pakistani parents but educated mostly in Britain. She now lives in Pakistan and works in the media, but like Imran, feels at home in both cultures. Fingers crossed, everyone.
• No matter how hard we try and convince ourselves that a measure of gender neutrality exists in the media, the sad truth is that sexism is still alive and well in the newsroom. So, every story of the Khan nuptials takes great trouble to tell us that Reham is a divorced mother of three. Nobody really bothers to make the point that Imran is a divorced father of two. And then, there are some who helpfully point out that at 43, poor old Reham can’t hope to make any bonny babies with Imran (tsk, tsk).
• Age-gap relationships never bother us much when it comes to older man-younger woman combines. No surprises then that the 20-year age gap between Imran and Reham doesn’t merit much discussion (though you can be sure that if their ages were reversed, the commentary would be quite different). So, full marks to the Pakistani channel that showed visuals of their wedding overlaid with an audio track of that old Hindi film song, “Mai kya karoon Ram, mujhe budha mil gaya”. Way to land a blow for gender equality!
• No matter how good-looking the man, he always looks spectacularly silly in his wedding finery. And Imran – who has broken a million hearts in his time, but is now beginning to look like that wrinkly uncle who scowls bad-temperedly in every family photograph – is no exception to the rule. Looking ill-at-ease in a shimmering gold sherwani, paired rather ludicrously with what looked like a platform-heeled sandals, Imran was less Lion (or Loin, as they fondly call him) of Punjab and more Rabbit Caught in the Headlights.
• Ah, now Reham, on the other hand: she looked simply spectacular. But then, we all know that weddings are essentially about the dulhan. And boy, did she make the perfect bride! All demurely wrapped-up in white and gold, with just a splash of red brocade, she looked radiant and oh-so-in-love, flashing a smile of sheer happiness (never mind the scowling dulha, glowering by her side).
• But no matter how old and wrinkly the man, and how radiant and beautiful the bride, he is always the Big Catch and she is the Lucky One who managed to land him. We saw this during the George Clooney-Amal Alamuddin nuptials. And now much the same sort of stuff is being recycled for the Imran-Reham pairing. How did she get so lucky? Surely, he deserves better? How did she manage to trap him? Why did give up his long-time bachelor (well, okay, divorcee) status for her? But if you ask me, the only people who got it right were those who captioned the Khans’ wedding picture: “Former BBC newscaster marries Taliban sympathizer.” Score!
But never mind the jokesters and the naysayers. What’s not to love about two people in love? And two people brave enough to take another chance on marital bliss? So, Imran and Reham Khan, many congratulations. And may you live happily ever after…