Editor’s Note: The views expressed here are those of the author’s and don’t necessarily represent or reflect the views of MangoBaaz.
By: Saba Gul
God gives us many pathways but we choose the one that we feel is the one right for us. Sometimes we know by instinct that it’s right while the other times, we don’t. The sad part is even the best of our insights cannot tell us what’s exactly going to happen in the future. It just happens. And we have to face it. Possibly fight it.
In the same way, my parents selected a path for me when I was just 15.
That time I was in school. Later, I joined Lahore’s renowned college, Kinnaird. I still remember the first day I entered the college and I felt proud that I was a part of the institution but just after 11 months at the end of my 1st year I got married. to this boy, I was engaged to by my parents, at the age of 15.
He was my first cousin. I still remember, a few girls came looking for me, saying, “oh! We heard you are getting married?” With tears in my eyes I said, “Yes! But I don’t want to leave my studies in between.”
But as a young girl and a loving, obedient child, I felt that I should go down the path my parents had chosen for me.
I got married and moved to Faisalabad, to live with my in-laws. Would you believe that, within a few weeks I got to know that my mother-in-law who was my own aunt didn’t like me at all? I don’t know why. She didn’t allow my husband to properly spend time with me in ways that a husband should. It was a terribly difficult time and then I had a baby girl when I was about 18. My mother-in-law took my daughter with her from the hospital and said to my mother, “aap apni Beti lai jayein hum apni lai jatey hain.” (You take your daughter, we’ll take ours). But my grandmother was alive at that time so she played the part in making things easier for me and handling the situation wisely.
Time flew by and eight years into my marriage I was blessed with a beautiful baby boy.
In spite of all the hurdles I stood by my husband who never raised a voice against the injustice on me or our family, at the hands of my in-laws. There were moments when I was shattered but I rebuilt myself , thinking that my parents have chosen this for me and I had to give my everything to save this marriage and look after the children.
But little did I know, my husband had another woman in his life, whom he was living with for one and a half year as a live-in extramarital affair.
When his parents got to know they advised him not to do zina (adultery) and instead marry her thus making hi relationship with her halal. So with their consent he married her, took her on Umrah to Mecca and later, on a honeymoon. His parents, meanwhile had told me, during his absence that he has gone away to set up new business in Dubai.
But I found out about his new wife and their whole story that my in-laws had tried to hide from me.
I demanded a divorce for either one of us, the two women in his life, as I did not want to share my husband. As expected, they asked me to accept the situation and instead of listening to me they said I should compromise on my demands. He tried his best to hide this all. But his secret was exposed, after which I, along with my two kids, started living separately with my parents.
He refused to give me divorce even on my insistence. It took exactly 7 years for my father to understand that I didn’t want to live with my husband anymore. I took my khula (divorce) from court and was finally free to live my life on my own terms.
It took 8 years for people to accept that I could live my life by walking on the path which I chose for myself.
I resumed my education at BNU and now I’m an architect. My parents, especially my mom, helped me a lot through this journey and for that I am indebted to her. After my graduation, I visited my husband’s city again, but this time it didn’t hurt anymore. Time is a healer.
I have moved on from my husband. He did what he believed to be the right choice for himself and I did what was my legal right to do if I felt my rights were otherwise being compromised because of the choices that my husband made. I didn’t lose anything,in fact I always said these words during my hard times:
“Thanks for the pain, it made me raise my game”
I am sharing my story because I want to show that in this male dominated society girls can still survive like a champion without a man who is not capable of protecting his woman and kids. I chose a path for myself, a path where I can walk with my head held high. Many will tell you that getting married is an essential component of a good life. No, it isn’t. Not always. There is so much more.
About the Author: Saba is an architect and a mother who believes in being optimistic no matter what happens there’s always a way out. If you wish to connect with her, you can find her tweeting here.
Cover image via: A Majeed / AFP