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.

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