“The bitter truth of reality is that people destroy the lives of others for the sake of their own inner satisfaction.
In Rawalpindi, I lived away from my parents, beneath the eye of my grandmother alongside my younger brother. It was back then, I would look ahead, forward, towards the future for it was that time in every girl’s life. Some called it naivety, others ambitiousness but it was a dream like any other. Simple yet everything.
It was a time when I had dreams; dreams to grow, dreams to learn, dreams to study, and dreams to become someone who mattered.
The only twist?
I was engaged since tenth grade but that changed little about my goals despite so many burdens placed on me. Responsibilities may often prove to be heavy but they are a part of life, inevitable. Knowing that, I took them on, trying not to disappoint my family. It’s what every child wishes.
To make them proud, it’s what I wished for too.
During this time, my father took me in under the insistence of my phuppo (aunt) so that I could spend some time with my mother. After all, as a bride to be, I was soon to leave their embrace. They allowed me to pursue college, my F.A. degree. Another step closer to my dream.
Until my uncle came into the picture.
He used to live with us as joint family systems were and still are common in Pakistan. We believe that progress is something that people go through together as one and so, to be concerned for each other is a natural part of this progress. If only I had known of the insidious power of such "concerns.” According to my uncle, my character needed to be called into question. He claimed to have seen me being followed around by some boys. His claims became public accusations, and I had to pay the price for them
How easy it is for people to simply assume, I never could have imagined.
And such an assumption surely had severe consequences, that I, alone, had to bear. Beatings from my own father, the gossips of others, the looks of disappointment; everything. So much so that it was decided I would no longer continue my education, no longer pursue my so-called “dream,” and no longer stand up on my own two feet.
And so, the only thing left for me was marriage, the default destination for girls in our society. What else was there left for a girl to do in a society bent on distrusting and misrepresenting its young women?
This was it, the last straw, the end of my path for in front there was a wall that I could neither break through nor climb over. I just did not have the energy to fight, to resist, to speak even and so, like an obedient daughter and wife, I didn’t. After that, there was only regret. I could have been so much more, I could have made my parents proud, I could have supported our family in times of financial need too, but the reality of life defeated me completely. With a broken heart that my own father did not believe me, I became dependent upon my husband. Without him, I would have had nowhere left to go.
However, I may have turned around, given up you could say too but not on my dream because that did not stop my desire to ensure my three beloved daughters do not suffer the same way as I did. It was cruel, it was frustrating, and it has shackled me to the ground but that will not be the case for my daughters. They will be trusted, loved both by their mother and by their father, and by Allah. They will be educated so that they can fulfill my dream, so that they will not have to drop down in tears, so that they will not have to live with burdens on their shoulders.
And so that they can stand against what I could not.”
From Afsana: Saimi's story reveals a glaring reality for many women: society's distrust in them and their truth. The cost of this issue has robbed women like Saimi from their right to their education and dreams. Afsana is committed to act in resistance against society's distrust in women and uphold the truth of stories like Saimi's. Please continue to support us in our commitment, and if you also have a story to share as a Pakistani woman, please contact us.
Written by Rabica Kashif of Afsana
Edited by Adil Rahim Hyder of Afsana