My lover, her father and the ‘honour’ that tore us apart
Our ordeal had begun.
She said to me,
“What if something goes wrong? We will be doomed, my whole life will be ruined and they might even kill me.”
Although I was scared, I responded in a brave voice,
“Don’t be scared, just have faith and everything will be alright.”
We were stuck in the midst of a battle to reclaim our lives and live it according to our aspirations and desires. The only other option we had was to abandon our hopes in the name of chauvinistic traditions, where women were the sole victims of culture and tradition.
Her destiny had been sealed by her father who had promised her to an ill reputed relative, known for drugs and poor conduct in exchange for a new motorbike and some cash.
I had tried all my options. I even sent my parents in a graceful and decent way to propose for hand, but her father had resisted because some malicious voices in the village or her family had informed him about our telephonic conversations, whereupon he had rejected my parents on more than one occasion.
We were becoming desperate now. We were running out of time and with each passing day our desperation was growing in magnitude.
We could wait and see if there was some natural way out of this difficulty or take a path clogged with many known and unknown perils. We knew that there were all sorts of risks on the cards – family reputations, feuds between the families and most importantly, our own lives were in danger.
One day, she started crying while talking to me on the phone and vented all her frustration onto me, accusing me for not having a viable solution.
This pushed me to take an initiative – an initiative that would change our lives.
We decided to run away from the village.
The plan was to take her to a village far away from our own and live with my extended family after we got married. We knew that it was a dangerous proposition and we were both literally trembling as the day came closer. Just a single mistake, mishap, miscalculation of time or someone seeing us fleeing would mean that we were doomed.
Only her mother and brother had a soft corner for me and they considered me capable enough to take care of her. But they could not go against her father – a man who had no flexibility at all. His mere arrival and presence at home brought an ominous silence in their house.
He would always have a kalashnikov slung over his shoulder and was also notoriously known for killing two innocent people in a family feud.
We had planned to run away on a day that he would not be home. She told me that she was ready and finally had the support of her mother as well.
It was almost dusk as I rode my motorbike towards her house. I was wearing a traditional shawl around my head which covered my face as well. I heaved a great sigh of relief as I stopped the bike in front of her door. The first step of the plan was over. Her mother was with her at the gate and both of them were sobbing. Through tears and sobs, her mother asked me to take good care of her daughter.
I promised her that I would and we bid our farewells. I started the bike but the moment I pressed down on the accelerator and turned the bike around, we saw her father pointing his Ak-47 at us.
He ordered us to stop or else he would shoot.
I felt frozen to the spot but then in a rush of adrenaline, I turned my bike around, hoping that he would not shoot.
After all, how could a father shoot his daughter?
I accelerated the bike with her holding on tightly to me. But we had only gone about 10 metres when I heard shots from the kalashnikov. Then I felt something fall off my bike.
I felt my heart stop. She had been hit and had fallen of the bike.
My brain was numb – with fear, regret, pain.
Without thinking, I kept driving and did not look back.
As I drove, I could feel her blood on my skin seeping through my clothes – her blood, spilled by the cold-blooded murderer who had killed his own daughter in the name of honour.
I could not believe it. I had lost my biggest dream. The person I had loved more than life itself had died right in front of my eyes and I had not been able to do anything.
It has now been six years since the incident. I am now in the Frontier Constabulary, serving in Balochistan, with my wife and two children.
I still remember her – her sparkling eyes filled with hopes and dreams, and her lively voice as she made plans for the future. She would often tell me how she wanted to decorate our house, what kind of furniture she would put in our room and which electrical appliances she would buy from the savings of my salary.
These were the little dreams that she wanted to turn into reality with me. But she was not given the chance of living her own life by her chauvinistic and bigoted father who could not understand that the happiness of his children is far more important and greater than centuries-old norms.
No one knows what happened that day except her mother, brother and father and they have all kept the story a secret. All the people of the village know is that her father shot her due to some personal family issues.
No case has been lodged against him by anyone. Her mother still lives with the pain, her brother has moved on and her father has hypocritically married a woman fleeing with him from another village.
When I think of her, I feel shameful for being a coward and running away.
I feel guilty for her death. But then, this was the risk that we had taken. She had wanted to live her life according to her own wishes and dreams. Unfortunately, in the pursuit of that distant goal of freedom from male chauvinism and bigotry, she had sacrificed her life and I had lost my love.
Religion allows you to pay heed to the choice and preferences of your children in such situations. In fact, it recommends that children should be consulted and their views should be given importance when it comes to such important decisions of life.
I wonder how many women have been silenced in the name of honour by the elders and parents in the various regions of Pakistan. How many jirgas, panchayats or parents end up taking law into their own hands and give death sentences to their own blood, when the sin committed is simply of having fallen in love and getting married to someone of their own choice?
When will this insanity end?
(Honour killings are one of the biggest ailments in Pakistan where women become victims of the draconian tribal laws and customs. This story is based on a personal anecdote that I heard from the locals of my native region Lakki Marwat, which I later converted into this work of fiction.)
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