Adapted from an anonymous narration to Soul Sisters Pakistan.
I was 16. Studying hard before my intermediate exam when my parents announced it was time I got married. I was budding into a beautiful girl and with the number of rishtas I was getting on a regular basis, my parents and community were of the opinion I should be married.
He was 30 and balding. I hated the way he looked. But my mother said older men were kinder to their wives.
“Nakhray uthai ga tumharay, beta.”
My begging and pleading did no good to anyone. I only wanted to study. At least get a bachelors degree.
“Larkiyon ko ziada parh ke kiya karna hai. Handi roti hi pakani hoti hai aakhir mein.”
I got caught up in wedding preparations and did poorly in my intermediate exam. That strengthened my parents’ belief in their decision to get me married off.
“Tumhara zehen parhnay likhnay wala nahi hai. Ghar banany mein khush raho gi.”
And I started believing they were right.
My wedding night was all about 1000 guests with feigned happiness, a bunto kazmi jora that could have funded my college degree and 10 pounds of makeup on young skin that hardly needed any. I didn’t cry when it was time for rukhsati. Because it did not feel real. I cried when we got to his house, when I faced the room that was red and gold and had nothing about me to it.
My husband gave me a diamond ring and asked me to change into my lingerie. I remember asking my mom about sex only to be told that it was not a topic mothers discussed with their daughters.
“Baysharmi ki batain mat kiya karo. Shohar se ja ke karna.”
It seemed easy and enjoyable in Cruel Intentions, I thought. But my husband was no Ryan Phillippe. I slipped into my silk nightwear with a robe on top and walked uncomfortably into the room. His eyes felt prying. It creeped me out, when he played with my hair. His nihari breath nauseated me. And when his pudgy hands pulled off my clothes. I was not ready, I said.
“Hum pehlay batain kar saktay hain?”
“Batain toh chalti rahain gi. Pehlay suhaag raat mana lo.”
Before I knew it I was screaming and he was struggling to get inside me. He told me to shove a pillow in my mouth. Before I woke up the entire house. I said it was hurting me. I was now crying inconsolably. But he kept going on. It felt like someone was ripping out my insides. Why hadn’t my mother warned me it would be so horrible. I let out another scream when I could not take it anymore and felt a loud slam on my ear. It was his hand.
“Chup kar jao. Dramay mat karo.”
Groaning he pulled out when he was done. I lay in bed, in shock, as he smiled in pleasure, caressing me.
I limped to the bathroom oblivious of my sharam and haya, as my mother would have put it. Not a thread of clothing. It burned to wash myself. But the physical pain felt like a breeze. Because my self respect was throbbing in agony.
When my mother called me in the morning. I wanted to cry and tell her she ruined me. But I did not. She would have shrugged it off. I was not supposed to talk to her about sex anyway. Maybe this is what it was supposed to be like.
“Moviyon ne dimaag kharab kar diya hai tumhara.”
A line that I had often heard.
It didn’t stop here. I was raped every night by my own husband. Within months I was a lifeless teenage body, impregnated with a child it did not want.
But of course, nakhray bohot uthaye shohar ne. And one-sided romantic dinners and flowers were a routine. To my parents he was the perfect damaad. But to me he was my rapist. Who robbed me of the right to give my consent.
Our son was born a year into our marriage and for a long time I was unable to look after him. I stayed with my parents for the first forty days before I had to return to my husband. With a full-time nanny for the baby, I was back to managing sexual expectations before I even felt I was fully healed or ready to.
Months after I gave birth, I fell into depression. My in laws wrote it off.
“Beta honey ke baad nakhray barh gai hain.”
My parents told me I was being thankless.
“Har cheez se nawaza hai Allah taala ne. Laikin tumhara rona dhona nahi khatam hota.”
And placing these words in the sack that burdened my broken back, I trudged on.
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