They said I was a paedophile, a prostitute, sick in the head, all because I loved a younger man

Published: October 28, 2018
Email

From a whore to a paedophile, I have been called everything. Not only have my intentions been questioned but also my sanity. PHOTO: ALAMY

I was in the 10th grade when a friend of mine told us that she was in love with this guy who was a trainee pilot and was six years older than her. Quite frankly, it did not strike me as anything unusual since my own parents have an age gap of around eight years between them. And if anything, such age differences are deemed desirable by our society at large.

I was also fully aware that my friend was mature and knew what she was doing. At no point in that conversation were the intentions of the guy doubted. In fact, he was constantly praised for the kind of affection and care he showed towards her.

Fast forward seven years and I am faced with a similar situation. Except that unfortunately for me, I am the older one this time.

I am sure that quite a few among you have already reserved judgments about me, some of which I will share myself in due time. I have a very strong desire to start defending myself from this point onward, just like I have been doing for the past one year. It has become almost reflexive now. If I gave in to that temptation, you would be reading “let me explain myself” or “please don’t get me wrong” after every single line that will follow. But I have decided to exercise immense self-control this time around.

I wasn’t the one to pursue him. In fact, I have never in my life pursued a guy. Not because they don’t interest me. But because the interest is very superficial. The more I get to know a guy, the less attracted I feel towards him. But this guy, six years younger than me, took it upon himself to become my friend. Soon after, we became the closest of friends, which surprises me to this day.

He struck me as a rarity, and the notion that men can just not grow up or become as mature as women disappeared from my life. He turned out to be not just more mature than men my age, but way more mature than any guy I knew. His approach was one of kindness, care and selflessness. His ideas those of renowned reformists and philosophers and his writing that of seasoned poets. I will not dwell more on why I grew too fond of him because I am certain that I will unknowingly start justifying myself.

Let’s not forget the heavy criticism our talented actress Yasra Rizvi had to face when she decided to marry a man 10 years younger than her. In no time, people forgot about her exemplary acting skills and her contribution to the industry. All they did was engage in ridicule and mock the couple for being such a ‘mismatch’.

More recently, our desi community decided to hone its match-making skills by ridiculing Priyanka Chopra for dating Nick Jonas. Calling him her ‘son’ and cracking the most terrible jokes about the duo became a norm. Person after person presented his or her unwanted opinions about how they make an incompatible team, without even once thinking that ‘hey, maybe they are happy’!

Marriage and relationships do not come with a manual or a checklist. How difficult is it for people to understand that when two people click, they just click? Especially in such socially ‘unacceptable’ matches, there has to be something much greater than what is perceived by the eye to make the two people go ahead with it. There has to be something way beyond the usual attraction to convince two mature individuals to reach such a decision, being fully aware of the myriad of hurdles that will come their way.

Long story short, our duo was met with extreme disapproval. From a prostitute to a paedophile, I have been called everything. Not only have my intentions been questioned but also my sanity. Time and again, I have been accused of trying to take advantage of a ‘child’. Almost everyone believes that it’s his money that I’m drawn to, which is ironic since I have a very promising career ahead outside of this country.

There were moments when I went online and tried to diagnose myself with mental illnesses or perversions in order to justify why I felt attracted to a guy six years younger than me. I have doubted my own ethics, upbringing and mental state. People keep telling me that the only way I should see him as is a younger brother, a child. Essentially pointing out that I am nothing but a sick person.

I pride myself on being a progressive, open-minded and courageous woman, and yet I fear for my family in this situation. Each time I get a message request on Facebook, a chill runs down my spine in case it’s another hate message. Each time my phone rings and shows an unknown number, I get palpitations that it might be some threat. Every single time that I see my parents whispering to each other or looking perplexed, my mind tells me it’s another message or call from his family begging my parents to stop their ‘awaara’ daughter from ruining his life. Funny how even though I am the less persistent of the two, I am the one who has to deal with all the hate. I am the one whose intentions are seen as evil and materialistic. And it’s my parents who feel targeted.

In this exhausting journey and my frantic attempts to reason with myself and with others, I somehow forgot the main reason why I have to suffer so much despite having well intentions. It is simple. Because I am a woman. Cherry on top, I’m a woman who doesn’t believe in the ridiculous principles our society stands on and is ever ready to speak up against them. So basically, old or young, the sons in our society will always be seen as innocent kittens who are under constant threat from ‘vicious’ women who want to exploit the poor little things.

What else could I have expected from a society in which a woman who does nothing and merely exists is hated for countless reasons. I, on the other hand, challenged some of its most deep-seated and unquestioned standards, and gave it a solid reason to crush me.

In a country that ranks poorly on almost all health and education indices, it’s really alarming to know how a lot of educated and well-to-do people would still be more interested in preserving their outdated traditions than getting up and improving the living conditions of those around them.

I do not know where fate will take the two of us. I also do not know how long it will be before I succumb to the needs of my family and society. I just hope that one day we as a society become accepting of our differences and spend our energies on things that really matter.

Fatima Ahmed

Fatima Ahmed

The author is an undergrad student from Karachi and other than wondering or wandering, her hobbies include worrying. She suffers from anxiety disorder. She has been an avid reader all her life and has a secret passion for singing too.

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

  • irfan Khan

    good luck, wish u all the happiness and blessings. ppl just cant see someone happy.Recommend

  • sani

    there is nothing wrong with age gap on either way, only thing that is wrong is our society at large. We are confused with things around us and help confuse other people as well. I think Maam, there is nothing wrong absolutely about anything that you are doing. Feelings are sign of Allah, you dont have control over them. I think, you should see you path yourself and chose the best for you. Wish that you guys end up as per your wishes. AmeenRecommend

  • Ahsan Tanveer

    Sorry to hear about your ordeal. If my calculations are correct you are not more than 23/24 and your beau around 17/18…that’s quite a young age to be getting into a very serious relationship, exceptions are there but i would suggest give it some time before announcing it to the world. Keep your personal life beyond people’s nosiness. Once you are ready to take it to the next level fight the stigma as it comes towards you: one battle at a time.Recommend

  • suraiyakasimhasham

    No need to give explanations to anyone. Live your life!Recommend

  • Doc

    The irony is that people taunt and blame women when they are older then men and conveniently forget the best of examples set by prophet Muhammad while marrying Hazrat Khadija. More than anything else which bothers them is what will other people say as if their say is more important than the two persons who have decided to spend their lives together.Recommend

  • RJSS

    Such remarks in our society are just traditions and nothing to do with religion even. And no one questions the traditions unfortunately, keep on rolling on the same old wheel. They forget that Prophet’s PBUH first marriage was with an older lady, who herself proposed – I will stop there and will not go into religious, pious, etc. details. Do the research. So there is nothing wrong for an older woman marrying a younger man. People need to get over it and move on. And even if she does it – who are they to comment or give opinion? Sorry, I forgot, the Pak society is best at giving “free” opinions without any sensitivity and just talking out of their heads, without hearing themselves even. Insane. Go marry whoever you want Fatima – its legal and “Jaiz”Recommend

  • ARSaeed

    Hi Fatima, I’ve read the story and there is nothing wrong in it. I being a guy have always liked elder women and tend to make fast friends with them than my own age.
    This is absolutely normal and let go the soceity and norms, they will always discourage you.Recommend

  • Ghulam Mustafa

    I do not know where fate will take the two of us. I also do not know how long it will be before I succumb to the needs of my family and society. I just hope that one day we as a society become accepting of our differences and spend our energies on things that really matter.. great write-up. Heart touching.
    No one talks about French president who married with his teacher, now in 60-70s and Macron just in his 40s. We have not been taught to accept the differences, but try to impose our own image of virtue on others. Why we want others to do and act what they are not? When we will let others have their own personal space where people can breath freely and sing their own songs of life?Recommend

  • I am troubled that the young man’s age is not mentioned anywhere. If he’s of a legal age, then their relationship is not anyone else’s business.Recommend

  • disqus_T2Hn0uza0n

    So, you are still undergraduate and your lover is six years younger than you. By definition, and by law, he is not a man but a child and this is criminal behavior.Recommend

  • Faizan

    Best of luck..Recommend

  • vijay2day

    Very well written article by the author.Recommend

  • Waqas

    There is nothing wrong with marrying someone substantially younger or older. Good luck!Recommend

  • Sophia Khawar

    I find absolutely nothing wrong in dating a younger a guy or even marrying him! and honestly those who have issues with it should consider the fact that our Prophet (PBUH) and Hazrat Khadija both had a huge gap? so why the hypocrisy? its a sick sick society, which is totally okay with marrying their girls off to a guy 20 years older, but has issues with girls marrying a younger guy!!!Recommend

  • Parvez

    no one has the right to judge you, though I know my society can be brutally judgmental.Recommend

  • Mohini Sonavaria

    would you still say that if he was an undergrad and she was 6 years younger??? I guess not because that apparently is acceptable, isn’t it.Recommend

  • zynex

    Relax!!!!…My own brother has been very happily married for the last 23 years to someone who is 5 years older then him. And I have this (call it hereditary trait) of invariably falling for women much much older. Just find them so much more interesting…..Recommend

  • Parvez

    Remember the current French president!!!!Recommend

  • Alfred Wagner

    The French are not a good example to follow. There is no sanctity of marriage in France.Recommend

  • disqus_T2Hn0uza0n

    Of course, I would still say this and I would also call for putting the guy in jail for several years.Recommend

  • Wasi Messi

    She was in 10th when her friend told her about affair and fast forward 7 years she falls in love with a boy 6 years younger than her at the age of 23. Generally you are 15 or 16 Years old when you are in 10th grade. 23 – 6 = 17, So, she actually falls in love with a minor.
    Still none of my business, it’s their life, they can do whatever they wish. It’s free world : )Recommend

  • Wasi Messi

    As per my calculations as well the Boy is minor ;-)Recommend

  • Ghulam Mustafa

    How about Quaid e Azam Rahmatullah! Has anyone talked against his relationship with Ratabai:
    Muhammad Ali Jinnah, then 40, was only three years younger than Ruttie’s father, and the two men were good friends. Jinnah was a frequent guest at Petit Hall, the sprawling seaside residence of the Petit family at the foot of Malabar Hill in Mumbai. It was in this setting that Ruttie and Jinnah became acquainted. Their romance, however, started in Darjeeling, while the two were thrown together on a vacation by her unsuspecting family.[1][2] Despite an age difference of twenty-four years, and the fact that Ruttie was hardly sixteen years old at this time, the two decided to get married.Recommend

  • Ghulam Mustafa

    Ours is not different when it comes to patriarchal society. One can have more than one wife and young girls before reaching to puberty are forcefully married with rich, fat, old men without their consents :(. I dont see sanctity of marriage here either!Recommend

  • Ghulam Mustafa

    I quote here again following case and looking forward for your judgment:
    Muhammad Ali Jinnah, then 40, was only three years younger than Ruttie’s father, and the two men were good friends. Jinnah was a frequent guest at Petit Hall, the sprawling seaside residence of the Petit family at the foot of Malabar Hill in Mumbai. It was in this setting that Ruttie and Jinnah became acquainted. Their romance, however, started in Darjeeling, while the two were thrown together on a vacation by her unsuspecting family.[1][2] Despite an age difference of twenty-four years, and the fact that Ruttie was hardly sixteen years old at this time, the two decided to get married.Recommend

  • Eisa Bin Bashir

    I believe that the boy did not play his role and succumbed to undue pressure from society. To me it seems like a blessing in disguise. I wish and pray that you get best partner who supports you in every aspect and especially when you feel week. Cheer up. The life must go on.Recommend

  • Andrew Davis

    It appears that he is still under age as the lady has been called a pedophile.Recommend