I now know better : Short-story

(roughly based on a true story)

I am a sixteen year old Pakistani girl, from a poor, uneducated family. My life is a cliche’ you read about in books or watch in mindless dramas. What you will read here may not come as a surprise to many who are from Pakistan or India. But if you are from a rich country, your jaws may still drop with disbelief.

I am a religous girl. I pray and take Quran classes. I cover myself to ward off malicious stares. Because around here, men think it is their right to torment girls and women with their penetrating gazes. That of course is as common as flies swarming over roadside food stalls. I used to work as a kitchen helper at someone’s home. I was only thirteen. They were good people and I was happy. Then for some personal reasons I stopped work.

This was when my parents declared my existence a huge burden. My parents were overwhelmed. Marriage prospects appeared from distant relatives in our village. I played along because parents always know better.

I was married off soon enough. I remember feeling scared but my heart was also excited and hopeful.

They told me he was thirty years old, from our village and well- settled. He had good money to support me. My parents said that’s all I would ever need.

Everyone gave me forced, false reassuring smiles. Everyone was blind. I was too.

Three and a half months of torture was in store for me. Complete and utter hopelessness. Not only was he almost fifty years old, he was already married with an entire family. My marital bliss included abuse of all sorts including his previous wife’s beatings. I wanted to kill myself. But I have strong faith in my Creator and that stood between me and a bottle of poison.

A year later, I am back at work. I still bleed profusely every month because of things he did to me. I can’t stand for long stretches of time and easily fall short of breath. My parents can’t look me in the eye without feeling shame and regret.

I smile now because I am alive. I smile because I did not have to endure hell for long. I smile because maybe my creator has something good in store for me. And if not so, then at least I have become stronger. I will never let anything like this happen to my younger sister. I will not sell my soul under the guise of a good daughter who is supposed to obey her parents even if it means a leap in a bottomless pit.

I am a 16 year old Pakistani girl from a poor, uneducated family, and I now know better.


  1. bik1012 · January 29, 2014

    Curse of our society. Beautifully articulated


  2. zara saeed · January 29, 2014

    Violence against women is at its height in all patriarchal societies and unfortunately Pakistan is on top of the list..Even in this modern age we get to hear such stories *sigh*


    • NS · January 30, 2014

      Ignorant decades have passed, and many such decades will pass in the future if women themselves don’t take a stand. If a mother is getting her teenage daughter married to a forty year old man and her excuse is external pressure and what not, then there is something terribly wrong with the picture


  3. Khurram Butt · January 31, 2014

    The story is a terrifying reality that resonates with thousands of women in Pakistan who continue to face violence & abuse. And it is not just uneducated women who suffer, a silent but a large number of educated Pakistani women also go through this trauma.
    The problem is that since childhood it has been ingrained into men by mothers, elders & also by certain religious segments(misinterpreting our religion) — that women are secondary or inferior to them. So until mothers raise their Sons & daughters as equal, no amount of education is going to change this mindset. It is a learned behavior in Pakistani society absorbed into our life style through generations.
    I believe domestic violence can only be stopped when men start thinking differently. And that is only possible when women empower themselves to come in a position to make their own decisions. Some organizations have already started working on women empowerment in Pakistan, a good sign.


    • NS · February 1, 2014

      Very true. And yes this practice of undermining girls and giving outright preference to boys exists in certain educated homes but still theres great awareness in this faction of our society. Girls are studying, working and marrying at good ages where at least if something goes wrong they can stand up for themselves. But what do we do about the mass majority!!? A vicious cycle that begins the day a girl is born in such households. Its horrible


  4. T. Dawn · February 8, 2014

    Wow girl. I’m a bit speechless which doesn’t happen very often. It’s not that I am unaware that these “practices” go on, it just sinks a bit deeper when I hear you tell this story so fervently and vividly.

    You, my girl, are what I call a survivor. Not because you simply still exist but because you choose to LIVE and laugh and love despite what you have been through. Keep writing and using this tool to empower yourself and other women. Much love to you.


    • NS · February 9, 2014

      wow thanks a lot:). I am glad you enjoyed the story. The girl who I have written about is definitely a survivor. Much like most of the people of my country:).


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