“We won’t take no for an answer.”
That’s what she jokingly said.
And that’s what my widowed mother seriously took to her heart.
“Riyah, what do you want from me?” my mother inquired one day, after I had already sulked for about a week. “I have three other daughters to take care of after you. Please let me fulfill my duties.”
“Oh, so we’re a burden on you, now?” I asked.
“Think what you want to think of it. I’ve made up my mind, and this is what’s going to happen whether you agree with it or not.” My mother stood her ground, which made the last traces of hope inside me evaporate, and after that, I had nothing left to say.
The person I had trusted with my life with had betrayed me. There is no bigger heartbreak than that, and I couldn’t see how anyone else was going to help me.
The day of Nikkah arrived as if it couldn’t wait for my demise. I was dressed in a red jora, and an invisible lock on my lips which wouldn’t have opened even if I had tried.
“Do you accept Mehr Din, son of Chiraagh Din, as your husband?” The mullah asked for the third time.
I DO NOT! “I do.” I whispered for the third time, and with that, my heart exploded right out of my chest, and landed me in another house which I was to call my ‘home’.
Since marriage was the last thing I was ready for, I realized that the only thing I could do to avoid my husband was to go to sleep before he came home every day. And that is exactly what I did for the first few weeks. But obviously, that wasn’t my husband wanted, and so, one day, he came home, and shook me awake.
“We’re going to do it today.”
A slap across my cheek followed this refusal.
“I said, I am going to do it today.”
And he did.
Nine months later, I gave birth to a little baby girl, Inaya. One half of me was compelled to hate and despise her since she was half made up of a man who abused and hit me regularly now, but the other half saw itself in her, and believed that she could achieve everything that it had failed to achieve, and so it won.
Consequently, Inaya became the light of my life; the moon in the darkness of my life. The fact that I had given birth to a baby girl enraged Mehr even more, and he tried, and won, in forcing himself on me many times after that, but to no avail. This further drove him to hate me, as if his hate could magically put a baby boy in our laps.
This hate, combined with stress from work finally took its toll on my husband, and he died fourteen years later. His mother was already gone, and so I had to sell everything off and move into a smaller apartment with my daughter.
One day, out of the blue, one of my maternal relatives came to visit me, and after the preliminary greetings and conversation, she turned to the real purpose of her visit. “Riyah, I was wondering if you’d like to give Inaya’s hand in marriage to Ali, my son.”
“But she’s only fourteen years old…”
“Yes, but you’re a single working mother. How long can you go before you finally crash?”
This enraged me. I could literally go on forever.
Guess who had to take no for an answer at the end?
Written by: Faiqa Nadeem