My fairy tale wedding

Published: April 11, 2013
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I sat like a marble statue, with a back so straight that even the queen would have envied my posture.

I stand over the remnants of tea and pastries, the window creaks open and the wind howls. How did this happen? I close my eyes and my mind takes me back a couple of hours, to the beginning of the evening.

“Oh darling!” exclaimed my overjoyed mother, “You look so beautiful!”

She circled my chair for the millionth time, brushing imaginary specs of dirt and creases off the jamawaar kameez I was wearing, and adjusting a curl or two. I looked at my reflection in the floor-length mirror; as miserable as I was I had to admit, I did look beautiful. Almost like a princess from the pages of a fairy tale.

But looking beautiful did not add an iota of happiness to my mood. My face might have exuded loveliness, but my expression reflected my actual feelings – my expression was ugly and so was the feeling in my gut.

My fingers trailed the open pages of the Grimm brother’s book on my lap.

As a child I had imagined running away into those parchment fairy tales, I eventually abandoned the idea, but today I wanted to run away again.

It all started three days ago, when I had come back from a friend’s house. I walked home, my hair a damp mess, mascara running down my face; it had rained and I was drenched. I dragged my soaking self up the stairs, past the dining room and into the hall. And that’s when the unimaginable happened.

My mother embodied the picture of a scheming sweet little old lady in a ginger bread house. We were alone in the house, she had already talked my father into leaving; she was good. But I knew that there was a reason for that malicious smile on her face.

“Come here, my dear,” she said as thunder rolled outside.

A storm was coming.

I hesitated.

“Come come,” she smiled like the big bad wolf, signalling poor little Red Riding Hood to come closer.

I went into the dining room, my wet shoes squeaking beneath me.

This was no fairy tale – it felt like a page out of Grimms’.

——————————————————————————–

A car horn at our gate brought me back to the present.

Suddenly, “They’re here!” seemed to be the only phrase existing in the English language.

I lifted the navy lehnga like the bane of my life, and stomped out of my room, followed by my extremely overjoyed mother.

I sat like a marble statue, with a back so straight that even the queen would have envied my posture. My eyes were fixed on the ground, safely tucked away from those belonging to my future husband – not from being shy, rather from clear and unmistakable spite.

——————————————————————————–

My mind then went back to that fateful night in the dining room.

Pictures of ‘handsome young men’ were lying sprawled on the dining table and among this never-ending blanket of photos, one was missing.

My mother was holding it.

I understood and the knowledge annoyed me.

“Amma!” I exclaimed, “I already told you, I don’t want to get married!”

With that said, I spun on my soaking heels, and was walking away when she started again.

“But sweetheart,” she said in a voice that was as sinister as it was charming, “You are getting married. But don’t worry, I’ve already taken the liberty of picking him out for you.”

——————————————————————————–

And just like that, I was wrapped in a shimmering blue dress and bestowed to a stranger. No, worse than a stranger, a cousin whom I had known my whole life as a “big-brother”, one who had lifted me the day I was born.

Now, I’d have to live with him, to bear him, and even like him?

I  looked at the man I was being forced to spend the rest of my life with.

The white of his starched shalwar kameez contrasted with his black moustache. He was one of my “village cousins” who I’d met as a child. As we grew older he took over the lands of his forefathers and grew into the feudal part of my family.

I was brought to Karachi with my parents, where I lived, laughed and convinced myself that I was in charge of my own destiny. Unfortunately, the norm I didn’t realise was that some families teach you to fly and then once you get the hang of it and realise the beauty of freedom, they clip your wings.

My mother clipped mine the day she decided that I had had enough freedom for a girl.

I was told to show my ‘future husband’ around the house. Irritated I got up and huffed my way out of the room, he followed closely behind.

He looked to the wall showcasing my father’s guns.

“Do you shoot?” he asked, trying to find some sort of similarity between us.

I smiled knowingly and admitted,

 “I love to hunt.”

He continued to ask me about how my interest in hunting arose and what I would hunt for. So in not too many words, trying to keep the conversation as bland as possible, I stated that I would hunt because as unfortunate as it is, it is also necessary at times.

Confused he looked to me for clarification.

I replied sweetly, imitating my mother’s tender pretentious lulling voice,

“You either hunt, or are hunted.”

A gleam of pride sparkled in his feudal eyes and I could feel the joy emanating from my mother who was standing beside me.

On examining the guns, he found an empty slot,

“One of the pistols is missing,” he noted.

My mother looked to the wall and waved her hand dismissing his worry saying,

“I’m sure my husband misplaced it,” she said absently.

“I’m so happy,” said my typical mother-in-law, “she’s such a doll!”

I looked up at this, right into his eyes.

“Of course!” cried my eyes, “to you I am just a doll.”

As much as I tried to get the message across through my eyes, he did not comprehend my emotions; after all, one cannot expect the other to understand everything you want them to know. We are given a mouth to speak and form the words, mine however was taped shut the second my mother handed me his photo.

My future ‘mother-in-law’ and mother, conveniently, plopped themselves back on the sofas, satisfied with their little joint venture.

I stood in the hallway, finally alone with the man who was to be my husband. He stared intently at the wall of guns, expediently ignoring the chattering voices of our mothers from behind us. I stood behind him, my eyes boring into his back, longing for him to understand my plight.

I don’t want to marry you. To you I am nothing but a gun you can showcase on your wall.

I don’t want to be bound by your restrictions.

Can you hear my eyes speaking to you?

Can you feel the emotions they have pouring out of them?

Can you sense the loathing?

I hate you!

Do you hear me? I hate you!

But my eyes got no response. He did not turn around and tell me that everything was going to be alright. He did not turn around and tell me that if I did not want to marry him, he would not force me to.

I could not tell him that he should save himself from me; I was not the right girl for him.

I could not tell him that he needed a girl who never tasted the sweet drops of freedom.

I could not tell him that my mother was cheating me out of my own destiny.

I could not tell him that I believed in fairy tales and that my prince charming awaited me somewhere in a far off forest.

I could not tell him that in my fairy tale he did not have a place.

I could not tell him that he could not marry me.

I could not tell him that our wedding day was never to come.

I could not tell him that I was the one to have stolen the gun from the wall and that I was pointing it towards his back- straight at his heart.

I could not tell him that I was going to kill him.

I could not tell him…

Read more by Ushah here.

Ushah.Kazi

Ushah Kazi

An avid reader, literature buff and co-founder at thekollective.pk/. She tweets as @TheKollectivePK (twitter.com/TheKollectivePK)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • zeeshan sheikh

    Zero _ given.Recommend

  • Sana

    Honestly, I have read alotttt of stories on ET but this was the worst one. A helpless girl plight. Blegh. Too old concept.Recommend

  • reader

    What is the mistake of tje future husband ? Either the girl and mother should sort the issue between themselves or the girl should tell the guy straightaway that she doesnt want to marry him. Why does she hate him ? Why does she want to kill him ? What wrong did he do ? He was here cuz her mother would have asked her to.

    And after all this is not what freedom means.
    Recommend

  • Akhwaja

    What was that :$!Recommend

  • Raveem Zafar Choudhry

    popcorn anyoneRecommend

  • Stranger

    Foolish cliched article.I cant understand why its considered to be modern and IN to belittle arranged marriages.I have had an arranged marriage and am married happily for 20 years now . Arranged marriages are not bonded labour marriages. This girl author seems to be having some chip on her shoulder. Immature girl with mind sets .Despite staying in Europe for 15 years and having a career for over 20 years, I still consider arranged marriages as far safer than love marriages. Why should the words career / Western countries/ modern / mini skirts / Love marriages mean FREE .Why should arranged marriage / housewives / sarees / Asian subcontinent mean BONDED?Recommend

  • Ali S

    3 days is very quick, most arranged marriages take at least several months. It seems to me like the author is passionately against arranged marriages (well, to each their own, however, the idea of a ‘prince charming waiting for me somewhere’ is a delusion most girls grow out of by the time they’re 14) and that’s a whole different issue, but why the hate for the husband? He’s as much the victim as you are. Spew your venom at your mother if you need someone to blame, she’s the one responsible. Typical feminist man-bashing.Recommend

  • Canya

    Well, that escalated quickly! :|Recommend

  • sundus

    i give slightly less _ than zeeshan sheikh does.Recommend

  • Florence

    A.w.k.w.a.r.d

    So not what the title suggested…Recommend

  • donny darko

    i am still thinking what was THAT? not that bad, but you could have put it in better words.Recommend

  • waleed

    Hell no! men loose their freedom…..Recommend

  • http://mezaajedeen.blogspot.com Tribune Reader

    Why are we wasting space on a blog like this, after this blog many girls will believe their future victims and will supress future life partners who otherwise would be great guys.Recommend

  • Umer

    What is she talking about?Recommend

  • http://www.syedaabidabokhari.wordpresd.com The Only Normal Person Here

    Keep trying ushah dont let anyone discourage youRecommend

  • Testy

    Take control of your life Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    Fact or Fiction? I’d assume it to be fiction, but not a great piece of fiction.

    I was shocked at the reference of guns in this article…If I went to a house for a rishta and saw guns as decoration pieces there, I’d take to my heels and never even phone that family again…I am shocked at the amount of weapons in Karachi…no wonder all this violence. If I became the Police IG of Karachi, I would cancel all weapons licences and ban possession of all guns. If any house is found with guns, the owner gets 5 years jail. Thats the only way peace can return to Karachi.Recommend

  • So damn bored

    Longest article with little substance…Recommend

  • tj

    I think this is exactly what most of us feel when we have to marry out ciudins they definitely dont meet our dream boy standards.. We dont feel attracted to them or charmed by them , they believe that we are or can be their soulmates n we spend a lifetime thinking why we married them, inspite of being born to liberal parents ,” if you dont like him, dont marry him” is simply not a choice.Recommend

  • reader

    I agree that the author has exxagerated and has gone over board with the ‘killing part’. But i agree with the concept she is trying to deliver. I am definetly not against arrange marriages but i am against the system by which it is arranged. Why isnt the girl given a choice when she is deciding for the man? Why cant they get to know each other before they can decide on the final thing? Recommend

  • 3rdRockFromTheSun

    “Now, I’d have to live with him, to bare him, and even like him?”

    @ author, dear lady, if you don’t ‘bare him’ and he doesn’t ‘bare you’; the family won’t grow!!
    However, whether you choose to ‘bear each other’ or even ‘like each other’ is entirely up to you.

    @ the Mods / Edit team at ET – missed that one, did we?Recommend

  • x

    Ohh the consequences of talking to the mother and refusing to marry the guy were too difficult to be faced, but facing the consequences of killing the guy were easy.LOL.
    Also, typical feminist rant. The guy was also a victim, in fact more than the girl, since he was happy in the prospective marriage not realizing the ‘hate’ of the girl which should have been directed at mom or herself for not being able to talk to mom. Recommend

  • x

    If you were ‘just a doll’ to his mom and that irked you, to you he was ‘just a feudal’. stereotypes galore. There was no basis for dislike except the fact that it was arranged and why the hatred against arranged marriages (and this certainly wasnt forced). Also, his pride in your hunting skils shows him to be quite liberated as most so-called fuedals would not like their wives to be engaged in manly sports and your huffing and puffing being overlooked by your in laws shows them to be quite sweet, even many liberated families would take affront at a bad tempered future bahu.
    Lastly, “Amma I already told you, I don’t want to get married!” seriouslyyy. Maybe this is why most parents fear giving their daughters too much liberty. They become disinclined to have the desire to make a relationship thinking of themselves as some superior species. education, careers, marriage, family, kids, all are equally important for women. Recommend

  • No sympathy for the weak

    So, the author chooses to write a story about herself and publicize it, but does not have the courage to communicate the thoughts with her mother and the future husband? What hypocrisy and ignorance is this? If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will. Do you expect your mother and future husband to read your thoughts, glare what is inside your heart? Please communicate in time and get yourself out of the mess. Recommend

  • MAK

    Wowww.. Now this is a waste of time!Recommend

  • hema

    well , the article has been written emphatically. when the aunties of our family do that out of concern for our future, we do tend to direct our anger towards the wrong person. i am not against arranged marriages, because in my family the girl and the boy both take some time to decide if they want to marry, and a no from either side means no without any persuasion from the parents or other parties. many people in my family didnt get married at all. the point is, arranged marriages are alright as long as the kids have a say in it. you are exposing them to the world outside through tv and books, you can certianly not expect them to not want their bit of freedom. Recommend

  • Parvez

    What can I say………its Poetic License, so ……..whiskey, tango, foxtrot should suffice.
    Recommend

  • Azmat

    Cried my heart out after reading this.Recommend

  • amir jafri

    I was expecting a Paree kee kahaani ( fairy: from Paree in farsi).like GUL BAKAULI .but this turned out to be the low-class english-medium stuff. Recommend

  • Latif

    I would just say ” Just grow up, life is not fairy tale”Recommend

  • waqar khan

    The author makes a finer point,too many mariages in our society are a compromise,at times the mariage is a fait accompli for both boy and girl due to numerous reasons. Islam had given us choice in such matters but subcontinent took that away. So many of nonsensical traditions of marriage in Indo Pak need an overhaul. For women of subcontinent must remember that Sati,a tradition where wife would throw herself on burning pyre of her husband was only banned by the Brits,last recorded Sati took place in 1980s in India. That was total worth of women in this part of the world,no choice in marriage and no choice in death. Full marks to the lady for highlighting an important social issue.Recommend

  • GhostRider

    Oh comeon just because he was a feudal, lived in a village and had moustache doesnt make him a backward man. Stop this stereotyping…even though m a “shehri baboo” to the core, I object Recommend

  • bla

    @Azmat
    u gotta be joking me, seriously?Recommend

  • observer

    If you wanted this to be a ‘Horror Story’, you should have narrated this standing over the dead body of the Groom.

    If you wanted it to be an ‘Inspirational Story’, you should have bumped off the Monster of a Mother or at least made her recant at gun point.

    If you wanted this to be a ‘Poor Bechari Ladki story’, the Girl should have killed herself to avoid the prospect of an unwanted marriage.

    But plotting murder in cold blood of a person who is not even forcing himself on you? Bleah.Recommend

  • Rakshinda

    I admire the choice of words… only if the story had a strong concept behind it. This one didnt!
    If you think marrying a cousin against your will makes a woman so bechari? look around you!Recommend

  • Ayesha Ahmad

    Loved how the entire situation is narrated but the ending was too abrupt and cliched. An interesting read though. Recommend

  • Sigh.

    By reading comments I came to the conclusion.
    Not worth my time. Thanks guys for saving my precious time. :DRecommend

  • To the author.

    You need to come out of this sensitivity. It will bring no good in your future trust me.Recommend

  • binger

    if you run out of your sleeping piles then this is a superb alternativeRecommend

  • Sane

    What was that?Recommend

  • Maxwood

    @ TO ALL OF “POOR US”

    One thing is proved, She can use Lap Top as type writerRecommend

  • Maxwood

    @ TO ALL OF “POOR US”

    One thing is proved, She can use her Lap Top as type writerRecommend

  • V

    Waaaat did u tri to right medem? I lost my sanses!Recommend

  • sarnaz

    the story is nice
    doesn’t deserve this much wrath
    those criticizing will also have difficulty levels of their own
    i don’t find much constructive critique in the comments
    please bear in mind the writer needs to be appreciated so well done n keep writing!
    Recommend

  • Waiting

    This should have ended with a zombie apocalypse. You cant go wrong with zombies.Recommend

  • Chacha jee

    @Ushah
    Remove his big-black mustache, ask him to show up in a suit and on put-on shades, there you go problem solved. Your charming-dream-future-husband right in front of you.
    Marriage is all and everything about compromises..lady. You’re right, you just aint ready for a marriage.Recommend

  • Little Red Riding Hood

    Mommy, I don’t wanna get married to that zombie. Readers help me.
    Cmon Ushah,
    Make a unanonymous I’d and mail him as a 3rd person, mentioning exactly what you think of him. Case closed.
    The truth is, you want to come clean and at the same time are not satisfied with the marriage agreement. Speak up now before (God-Forbid) we’d be reading yet another marriage problems later aftet the forced-marriage.Recommend

  • gp65

    ET: It is unclear why you having been filtering out completely relevant posts of mine for the last 2-4 days. There is nothing I have said which is against your guidelines.

    @Author: I hope this was just ‘poetic license and you do not actually advocate the views that the protagonist seems to have? Your last blog was also pretty out there.

    @Stranger: I respect your views on arranged marriage being superior to what is very cutely called love marriage (as though the others were hate marriages), but do not agree I personally think that whether the marriage is arranged by parents or the individuals – it has its own pros and cons. But the issue in this story that I have a problem with is not the protagonist’s resistance to being marry a man she disliked. I could actually agree with her there. What I cannot agree is using this resistance to an unwanted forced marriage as a justification for premeditated murder. In a country where there already is a big tendency towards vigilantism, such stories simply add fuel to fire.

    @Parvez: I do enjoy your understated dry wit.Recommend

  • Arsal

    @Sarnaz and the Author
    Being a lady yourself, I was expecting you’d actually help-her-out with her(authors) problem. Okay, appreciation, you want it, Well-done Ushah for standing tall and for letting us readers know what exactly are you going through. Bravo.
    BUT Ushah, would this temporary appreciation solve your case of enforced-marriage. Ushah, being an educated woman from a renowed college, I’m sure you’re were aware what mis-communication can actually lead to and unless or until you speak-your-heart-out to the exact medium .i.e. your mom or the future husband, things won’t move abit & mind you life aint any fairy tale where fairy God Mother will fly down and help your through your problems. This happens to be a sour truth. Better swallow a hard-pill rather than bearing prolong illness for the rest of the remaining life.
    Be-strong and speak-your-heart-out & be honest to yourself and everyone around.Recommend

  • Azmat

    @bla:
    for times like these, I wish we had a sarcasm font.Recommend

  • Zubeida Aapa

    Ushah beti, its a normal-pre-marriage-thing that girls usually face, feeling butterflies in their stomach, feelings such as ‘What/how would things flow?’ ‘Will his family accept me?’ ‘Will he love me always’? And things like that. Its very usual but I tell you it would go-away eventually with time.Recommend

  • Bahauddin Naul

    The word pathetic is so little for this blog. Nothing more than a stereotype.Recommend

  • Parvez

    @gp65: :-)Recommend

  • rk

    This is a really good piece! Some people can totally relate to it. Its beautifully written :)Recommend

  • F. Kalia

    @3rdRockFromTheSun:

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA man, your comment is damn funny hahaha ..Recommend

  • me

    why shoot the guy? what was his fault in the whole situation? Recommend

  • uzma

    you should be wearing a Bright Red Jora why a navy blue one?Recommend

  • noname

    awesome that she pointed the gun at the man..kudos!
    i was thinking she’d kill herself..Recommend

  • Insaan

    Author:I could not tell him that he should save himself from me; I was not the right girl for him.

    You could not tell him anything, but you are telling the WHOLE WORLD everything you wanted to tell him.Recommend

  • Sadia

    WHAT nonsense is this?
    A fairytale wedding narrating instead the plight of a liberal girl who’s pushed into an arranged marriage and the pain it brings forth. ET must filter BS in its purest form before it gets published. Waste of time!Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/tehniatabdulwaheed Wingless Angel

    @Sigh.: why do reply on what others say lol?? it was nice. I like it. :) Half of the readers here just read to criticize others..Recommend

  • I stopped reading at “You either hunt, or are hunted.” ….. rolls eyesRecommend

  • @3rdRockFromTheSun: LMFAO!Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    Usha bittiya how’s it going ? one day the dream of the knight in shining armour in it has to end and every girl has to smell the coffee … I am sure you are “set” by now … happy hunting !!!Recommend

  • Fahad Zia

    All i can say is that the real villain is her mom, and not that mustachee cousin of hers.. Recommend

  • Sarah

    why did she kill him? ajeeb sadist larki hai…cant even talk straight to her mom or dad or even the guy….
    giving hints like hunters and hunted are a bit flirty and provicative rather then scarying a fedual…..sense was missing..and whats the point of time-switching…Recommend