It was 2016, I signed a Nikah Nama and my inbox was filled with hundreds of congratulatory messages from friends and colleagues. My husband was also happy or at least he was trying to look so. After a year, right before my rukhsati, he sent me a document. A document which I opened with trembling hands. He had divorced me without any reason.
I was dumbfounded.
Living with a label of a “divorcee” in Pakistan is considered as shameless, weird, available, arrogant, slut, asexual, bossy, fussy and what not. The words and phrases associated with the character of a divorced woman are not given an iota of consideration. While these words might be used for “describing us” they would never “define us.”
I lost the sole purpose of my life which is, according to the society, getting married at the right age. I was fighting my own demons day in, day out. What really helped me through this trauma apart from faith is, my work. I started feeling extremely lonely and felt guilty about reaching out to my friends. Many also told me that ‘no one has sympathies for a victim, just suck it up and move on.’ I was stuck in a situation that might take forever for me to get out of it.
In a country like Pakistan, where lives revolve around the axis of marriage, life of divorcee is never a fairytale. After a certain age people tend to assume you married and having two (or more) kids.
Even the beggars pray that “apki jori salamat rahe” when they see you sitting with a male. The whole society is geared for that. Starting from the meal discounts in expensive restaurants to the TV advertisements, everyone shouts “two for the price of one” .
No one promotes the idea of being single.
Nobody bothers to think about it.
Life is not a rose-tinted lense for us. It’s like a curse in our state. Every day I hear numerous questions like
“why don’t you get re-married”? ..
“why don’t you settle down once again”?
Going to family events especially wedding is yet another task. Relatives tease my parents with the constant refrain of why don’t you get your daughter married?
“Haye bechari k sath bohat bura hua”...I still remember the behaviour of my cousins who have stopped talking to me after my divorce. Everywhere I go people somehow find it their duty to fling unsolicited advice at me. But they don’t want their handsome and educated son to tie a knot with me. For me, they have proposals of over-aged divorcee and bald men.
Renting or owning a house is a trial altogether. My character is questionable so I should be banned from getting into their property.
I am a self-made and ambitious woman. I love my work but the key to successful life cannot be found in my office files. That is only visible in my wedding ring. I, on the daily basis, hear unwelcoming phrases at the workplace from not only men but also from married woman of my age.
People say things “isko tou paiso ka lalach ho gaya hai” at my back. Mobility is another factor that creates a problem. People keep an eye when I go out and when I return. Even in our dramas, divorced women are depicted as “intolerable” and headstrong who are responsible for their fates.
The fact is that the society doesn’t pay my bills, doesn’t sit by my side when I’m admitted to a hospital and thus, doesn’t need to be bothered about. I am responsible for my actions so there’s no need to keep a check on me. Considering me a burden is not permitted in our religion. Islam does not allow anyone to be pushed into a forced marriage.
It is better to live alone than to be stuck forever in a mean and failed relationship. I hope that some day my society learns the formula of “live and let live” and accept the “divorcee” statuses of women. Try to be a little more sensitive, less interfering and stop poking noses in other’s businesses.
This piece was narrated to and written by Fizza Zaidi, who is an avid reader and an emerging blogger. She blogs about the rantings of mind-numbing journey called as motherhood.