Copyright © 2003-2011, Aishah Schwartz. Permission granted to circulate among private individuals, groups, or in not-for-profit publications in full text and subject title. All other rights reserved.

January 17, 2006

My Love for Allah Awakened

By Amatuallah Abdullah Tears streamed down the face of my friend who sat with her face buried in her hands on the day of her marriage. I looked at her as she sobbed, unsure of what to do, and finally asked her, "Why are you crying?" "I'm just nervous," she replied, but I knew that she was holding something back. Out of respect for her privacy, I reserved any additional questions I might have had about her situation. However, the ladies around her, family and friends, would not leave her be. They insisted on knowing. I sensed that my friend just needed some space of her own. This is the day that changed me. Her tears triggered my own memories of an unhappy wedding day, my own. ----- My whole family rejoiced on a day which was supposed to be special for every woman- my wedding day! The air fairly tingled with excitement and laughter was the tune for the day. "You look gorgeous!" my cousin said. I forced my lips to curve into a smile as I said, "Thanks." My lips felt so much strain as they were forced to do something they didn't want –SMILE! And this was a pain that I was obliged to grow accustomed to from that day forth, until I found the courage to assert my rights. Indian culture did not allow my parents to seek my permission for marriage. Custom dictates that the parents of both the groom and bride arrange the marriage, and the children agree without any say in the matter. My heart was not inclined to the man I was married to from the first day of my marriage and I was not able to express my feelings for the fear of being alienated from my family and society. I wanted to please my parents and the community and show them that I was happy, even if I wasn't. I didn’t want to be alienated from them and to add to that, I heard the people, making unpleasant remarks about women who says they are not happy with their husband nor interested in marrying a man their parents choose. This is the South Indian culture: If a woman is married to a man, and has a child from that marriage, she has to live with him no matter what. "Are you trying to please your parents and the cultural society fearing that they would alienate you and speak ill of you if you told them that your marriage has not brought you any joy? Oh come on! You are no better than a robot!" my heart cried. My heart was right; I was almost a prisoner to society. I became a lifeless woman from the first day of my marriage like a robot only going through the motions of life...continued... This story was chosen as winner of a contest sponsored by the Muslim Writers Society, January, 2006. Copyright © 2005-2006 Amatuallah Abdullah All Rights Reserved. Please do not repost/reprint from here without permission from the author. Used here with permission.

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