He took me from my hair and dragged me into the street. The neighbors came out , well not help me , but to stand and watch the drama unfold; He snatched the car keys from me, I pulled back with all my strength and then he said “ well you love your belongings more than me..Huh..keep them and yourself too…Mein nay tumehin Talaq de, Talaq de , Talaq de…
This was the text message I received from my friend Sameera, in middle of a casual chat with my family on a Saturday night. Sameera married Faizan out of love, the fatal love, that all warned her against. She was earning more than him, but she was at a disadvantage, she was a once divorcee with a child. Any woman, who has been through divorce for whatever apparent reason, understands how the conventional Pakistan society treats a middle class divorcee woman. As Sameera was coming to terms with the single woman lifestyle, there came the daunting neighbour Faizan, ten years younger in age but helping her out with the menial chores, taking care of her kid while she struggled to find a suitable job. The attachment followed naturally, the proposal of marriage came abruptly and the marriage itself instantly. When one is in love, one gets blind; this has always amazed me that because justice is blind, that it leads to the disastrous consequences.
The initial charm vanished and the charmer turned into the victim. Knowing the importance of making this marriage work, Family and friends closed their eyes from her initial complaints of physical and psychological abuse not to mention the repeated extortion of her hard earned money. Painfully a professional lady from a decent background was psychologically and physically abused as the motive for marriage became clear: money. When resistance finally came, the “boy” divorced the “lady”.
Reigned in the session of regrets, self blame and desire for rekindled love. Sameera blamed herself for another failed marriage. All her arguments to remain in the limits prescribed by Allah vanished. All sorts of religious opinions were sought and the difficult decision of Halala was contemplated. Some elders sat down and offered solutions like sending Sameera back to her first husband for the sake of the child. The Toying with the aspects of religious authority got ironically amusing as well as sad.
The center point of this quixotic real life story is a decision taken by human beings in context of societal obligations and moulds, the same societal ethics that are confused with the religious morals. A life long decision of marriage is looked upon as a sacred bond to legalize the intercourse or a sustenance mechanism to support the brood produced as a result of an unfortunate union. The society that we have created is full of contradictions and ironies. We blow hot and we blow cold. The women are taught to read , fetch a good match but they are not taught to be wise enough to know that marriage is a two way contract not a bondage or a liability that must be bore to survive in the society. Pressures to confirm to the prevalent norms result into stories like that of Sameera. A Culture that traditionally teaches men to be assertive on the cost of their understanding and women to be submissive on the cost of their self respect is deeply rooted and intertwined with sub continental religious undertones. The societal setup is robbing us of the rational wisdom. Marriage and divorce are readily becoming tools of manipulation. Westernization however has nothing to do with this rapid trend of wrong matches, hasty decisions and quick divorces. If the same was the case, then Turkey, obviously one of the most modernized states of the Muslim world with a 90 percent literacy rate has one of the lowest divorce rate. Islam consider Divorce as to be the most unpleasant things out of all the permitted things. However, Islam does not consider Talaq as a taboo but a way of breaking a contract of marriage when it becomes unbearable for both or one of the party. The concept of three pronouncement of Talaq is not to make the repetition fancy but give the man pronouncing it some time to think over the biggest decision. There is a dire need to teach self respect and understanding to both genders. Marriage is a hard work and it should be based on both parties working to preserve the sanctity of its institutions sadly it has become a sanctuary for abuse, manipulation and unforgiveness. Attitudes like dumping a woman at some corner where no one can point a finger at the family or degrading her through the tongue wagging needs to be rectified. Unfortunately neither the education system, nor the evolving societal structure is making any difference in the lives of women making them to jump from one mess into other on the cost of their sanity.