A story of a young girl, who could not fulfill her desire to marry the boy she loved...
I was reading some ‘blog’ containing poetry on one website. I liked one poem very much. It was very nicely worded, impressive poem. I wrote my appreciation in comments. After a few days I received a mail in my mailbox informing me that somebody had written comments against my comments. I opened the blog again and saw the comment. It was a reply from the person who had uploaded the poem. I was interested in knowing more about the person, so I checked the profile.
There were only few lines of introduction. Name : Nafisa, age : 22, residence : Lahore, Pakistan, job in a government office. Nafisa had written in her reply that she was not the writer of the poem. She had coped the poem, because she had also liked it very much. She did not even know the name of the poet. She had written, ‘if the words of a poem touches our heart, what difference would it make, whoever is the poet..’ It appeared she had seen my profile while reading my comments. She had further written, ‘uncle, it appears you are also a lover of poetry, like me. Can I write you mails sometimes?’
With this, we started communicating. She would quote good poems, stories, quotations etc. she reads, with her views. I would also give my comments on it: quote some I found good and so on. As we communicated, the circle of our introduction also got larger. From what she wrote to me I concluded that she was not optimistic. Her approach to life was sad and negative. At the age of 22 the boy/girl should be enthusiastic, full of hopes and courageous. But there was no optimism, no joy, nothing like that, in her writings. Instead, she was talking of death, disappointment, failure, as if she was pulling on the life like burden.
Once I wrote to her, “your city is known as ‘Jinda Dilane’ (City of People full of life). Still, why are you so sad?’ She had avoided the reply. However, she had told me about her life in pieces. She used to write to me that my mails are very much comforting to her. While reading my mail she experienced peace of mind. I could guess that she wanted to open her heart to me, but was hesitating. So I asked her directly, ‘I doubt something has happened in your life, which left strong depression on your mind and that is the reason you lost hopes. Is it a failure in love affair?’
She ignored my question for some time. I also did not insist and allowed her time to gather courage to tell me the truth. Gradually she opened up and told me her problem.
She was in love with a boy, when she was in college in her last year of post-graduation. The boy was also attracted to her. Initially, she did not pay any attention to him, but gradually they came nearer, knew each other well and opened up. After some time, just before the end of the term, he proposed to her for marriage. Her initial reaction was shock; so she declined the proposal instantly. They got separated after completing their post-graduation; he went away to his town and after some time he was engaged to some other girl.
I asked Nafisa the reason for her strong reaction of denial to the boy she actually loved. Did she not like the boy? She had written that it was an instant reaction; she should have bought some time. Her instant reaction was because of her family background.
Nafisa was engaged to her cousin, Salim, her father’s sister’s son, while she was in high school. She loved the boy in the university, but she was not sure how would her family react, if she denied her engagement with a boy in the family. Her parents were not so old fashioned. But since it was a family affair, and if they consent Nafisa to marry her lover, uproar and break in the family was most likely. Salim was younger to her by two years, He was not much educated and was living in a small village far from Lahore. He had done some career-oriented diploma, but was not working. Salim helped her father in their family agriculture. Marriage with Salim meant Nafisa had to quit the job and go to village, away from her family and friend-circle.
Nafisa was the eldest of three sisters. Her parents were not as wealthy as the family of Salim. Salim’s mother was older than her brother, means Nafisa’s father. So they had a feeling of inferiority compared with Salim’s family. Nafisa’s papa was not in favor of holding on to the engagement, but her grandma was insisting. Her grandma thought that instead of some outside girl, it would be better if Nafisa becomes the heir of her daughter’s property, Nafisa’s mother was caught between feelings of the family and her beloved daughter.
Once Nafisa’s papa made passing comment about breaking engagement with Salim. It had created quarrel-like atmosphere in the family. Her grandma had stopped talking to them and her uncle’s reaction was also not good.
‘What would I do? In such circumstances, it was my natural re-acion when I said ‘no’ to my college friend even though I loved him. Now I feel that I was hasty. I should have bought some time.’ Nafisa was writing.
I was really shocked after knowing Nafisa’s situation. I felt very sorry for her. The circumstances had made her ‘mature’ in her almost childhood. Her dreams were shattered even before they took place. Her lost hopes were more than justified. She was writing, ‘I have quit thinking about my future. I have prepared myself to mould myself into whatever situation God leads me. Because of my background, I cannot enjoy my present. Anything that comes in my way to bring joy to me, leads me to sadness, because I know where my future is.’ Xxx
‘When is the marriage?’ I had asked.
‘It will be two years or more. I can say that I have those two years to breath independently. As the time advances, I am breaking slowly from inside. I fear that by the time I am married, I shall be completely broken.’ She had written.
‘Is it possible for you to think of breaking the engagement and consider marrying some other good boy, who may come into your life?’ I had asked her.
‘Uncle, I am very much broken. I cannot look at any young boy with hopes. Some boys try to come near me, sometimes my papa also mention about some good boy in his circle of friends. But, whenever I think about any such possibility, face of Salim appears before my eyes and I become upset, I stop thinking.’ Nafisa had written.
My role was limited to give opinion and share her grief. Gradually our communication returned to where it was started; talking about poetry, stories, general information, family and social matters etc. I was trying to cheer her up, may it be only limited to mails and so short-lived. Gradually the time gap between our mails increased and contents of mails shortened.
Then her mails stopped. I sent two reminders, which were also not responded. I assumed that it was because of her marriage. She had earlier said that she had no access to internet from her home or from Salim’s place. She used her office computer for internet. So once she left the job, she would not be able to contact me. I was sorry for her. She had prepared herself for all eventualities. She had written once, ‘After marriage I shall be gone to a village. There I shall be very busy in cooking for the family, serve my husband with my body and mind (which is not mine even today), deliver children to the family and bring them up, decorate myself with jewellery and fine clothes on family and social celebrations, bring unnatural smile on my lips and appear before the society as a happy woman. I shall have no time for remembering my past and feel sorry for it. I shall be gone back to 19th century, from 21st, without the help of Time Machine*. (*Time Machine, a famous novel by H.G.Wells)
As the time passed, the memories of Nafisa became dim in my mind. However, when I read something interesting, she came back to my mind. When I had given up all hopes of getting her mail or news about her well-being, all of a sudden I saw her mail in my mail-box. It was a surprise for me and leaving everything aside, I opened it and started reading it.
She had written, ‘Uncle, I am sorry for not writing to you for very long time. I am sure you have presumed that I am married to Salim and gone to his village. You may not be expecting any communication from me. With your blessings and grace of God, the path of my life is totally changed. My life has taken a pleasant turn all of a sudden. When we go in the sky, sitting in an aero-plane and see the world from above, we see how small the world is! From the window of the plane, I saw that how small was the world of villages and my Lahore, which I left below! Ya, riding a plane I came to America. Everything was so fast and I became so busy that I had no opportunity to check my mails or send one. And I wanted to give you a pleasant surprise! Are you happy with this news? After my father, you are the second person who supported me, advised me and helped me keep up my hopes - which I had lost.
‘I am married to Juned, my playmate and classmate in the school from childhood. He is settled in America. He had come to Lahore for marriage. We met by chance of God in a shopping mall. We remembered our days of childhood, we had spent in primary school. Over a cup of coffee in a restaurant, we talked a lot, including my situation his search for some suitable girl. And against my nature, gathering all the courage that I could, I got bold and asked him, “you are in search of a good girl for marriage. Am I not a good girl?’
‘Uncle, with that one bold question, all my sorrows vanished. I am now in America as a happy wife of Juned, my friend from childhood...”