If only they knew that from the start, if only they understood the consequences earlier, and if only someone taught them that it makes a waste not just of oneself, but of others as well.
Maybe it was simple ignorance that prevented them seeing past the veil my father wore, but everything was supposed to be fine when my mother married him. Better to marry someone close to home than marry a stranger.
Only my father never took responsibility, and he never wanted to. Not long after the marriage, his addiction began. Drugs, powder… whatever was necessary to escape reality and his duties as a husband and father.
The type of drug didn't matter. The drugs were just there, wrecking our lives from the very start.
He neither worked nor earned money. With that, all the burden was placed on my dear mother who could only do so much. Starting early in the morning and working late into the night, she worked and worked and only worked, making barely enough for my father, my younger sister, and my two little brothers. What little she did make was taken from her by my father and, like himself, wasted on his abhorrent hobbies.
With all this, how then could I pursue an education? A better life? The people around us are always quick to blame a woman, any woman, for anything. I did not want to put my mother in such a difficult position and so, like a good daughter, I did not.
Indeed, it was soon decided that there was no need for an education for me, and I was married off at the tender age of fifteen. But going away did not necessarily mean an end to my troubles. I feared it would only mark the beginning of new ones. But this time, although I know many cannot say this, I was blessed.
Five years passed and I was yet to become a mother. My in-laws doubted me, blamed me for such a “misfortune.” They pressured my husband to initiate a divorce on me, to try his hand with another woman.
And he refused.
My husband refused.
My husband remained my husband because he understood that it is only Allah that bestows such a blessing of a child and that we as humans have no hand in this whatsoever.
But the in-laws would not have it, they would not tolerate it. Three years later, we were kicked out of our own home. We were forced to move into a rented single-room. However, in all this time, the pot only brewed more poison as I worried more and more about my sister and my brothers. I knew from my own experience that the company they were in would only lead to ruin. Drug addiction leaves no man standing, and I feared it would come for my brothers too. My sister had her fair share of pain as well, since our father rejected all the marriage proposals that made their way into the household.
But now, I was in a position to help them as a sister who actually cares. At least, my siblings would live their life, not waste it away. Our bleak lives took a positive turn for once when, by Allah’s grace, the elder of two brothers had found work. Now, we could afford to send our youngest brother (not more than nine-years-old) to a government school.
Circumstances and people forced me to not live the life I wanted to.
I did not have the choice to stand up on my own feet, and to not become a better sister, daughter, and wife to those I love. However, ever since I became an expecting mother, I now know that this was all just a way to show me that there is something beyond just addiction and survival.
There is life.
And that is all I wish for my child.
Written by Hamza Suleman
Edited by Ahmed Rahim Hyder