In 2015, I announced to my mother that I was preparing for admissions to universities abroad. I was excited and told her about the programs and the scholarships I was considering. She cut me short with:
“Shaadi karo pehle! Akeli larki ko kahin bahar nahi bhej sakte!” (Get married first; we can’t let you go abroad all by yourself).
I thought her reaction was normal and that she would get over it in a few days. I was not really the rebel type, but I was opinionated. I had dreams and I knew what I wanted. I continued preparing for the test and writing my personal statements. Unfortunately, my parents’ views were shaded by the societal recommendations and all they expected from their daughter was to get married and make a family. I didn’t hate the idea of marriage, but I didn’t want to settle down for a non-compatible option.
Anyway, I took the test, secured admissions in a few universities and even got an interview call for a possible scholarship option. Meanwhile, the pressure from my family grew. There were all sorts of tantrums and emotional blackmailing. So much so, that I gave in! I did not appear in the interview and told my mom that I’m ready to settle down – partially because I understood their situation.
My mom grew up as a foster child to a lady who treated her more like a house help than a daughter and my dad was the only child of a divorced couple. Now they wanted a peaceful life for their children.
For the next 5-6 months, I went through a few marriage proposal meetings. They were so ridiculous and hurtful that they deserve another post! Not just my looks, but the locality I lived in and the work my father does, were criticized. My dad is a Suzuki driver and I was labeled as “driver ki beti”. Thankfully, my parents were extremely considerate about my choice of partner. They would want me to meet families, but would not force me to say yes to anyone if I didn’t want to.
With the start of 2016, I thought of giving my dreams another chance. This time, I was firmer than before and decided to be discreet about it. I took GRE, re-did the application process, and reapplied for scholarships. My parents had softened until then and so when I told them assertively that I have decided to study abroad, they didn’t react. I think this change was because they saw me struggle in the previous year. I got the admission and the scholarship and moved to the USA to study health informatics. The cherry on top: I found the love of my life during the time I was preparing to leave.
The day before yesterday, I was on phone with my mother. I told her that it was my graduation ceremony the next day. To my utter satisfaction, she responded: “Boht Mubarak ho beta. Photos bhejna!” (Congratulations! Send us pictures).
These years taught me that our parents may seem tough sometimes, but they get along eventually. In fact, they take pride in our achievements and become our biggest supporters.
From “Daddy nahi maanenge,” in 2015, I got to hear “Daddy boht khush hain” in 2018.
What else can a “driver ki beti” wish for?
This story is submitted by Saba Irfan (Member of Soul Sisters Pakistan)