I had no choice. My family liked the boy because his father was a friend of my father and they were rich. They thought when somebody is rich they are lucky. He had graduated from school and worked in an office. He was living in one of the villages of Bamiyan center and I was living in the valley.
After a while I realized that this was not the right time for me to marry and this boy was not someone I wanted to live with. He asked my classmates whether I was good girl. Our views about life were different. His father did not want me to study and the son accepted his father’s words.
I cried. I told my mother and sister that I did not want to get married. Nobody listened to me. I was afraid my father and sister and mom would threaten me if I did not get married. My brothers were fighting with me about it. I was always crying.
I had a teacher who wanted to help me. He was always telling me you can do what you want, you must fight against the pressures. He wanted me to be happy and achieve my goals. But how could I escape this marriage?
We had been engaged for about two years. Finally the boy’s parents came to our house and said that it was time for the marriage to take place. My parents, without telling me, made preparations for the marriage. They bought the things needed for a bride, and then asked me to go with them and do the Nikah. I went with them.
But when we arrived I told the mullah that before I would do the Nikah, I had some conditions for them, and if they did not agree I would not allow anybody to do the Nikah.
I wrote my conditions on a piece paper and gave it to the Mullah. My conditions were these:
- I will continue my education and I will study abroad for a master’s degree.
- I want to be a university teacher and they should support me.
- For my dowry (Mehr) I wanted two hundred AFs and 14 gold coins.
They did not accept my conditions. They told me a girl cannot go and study abroad; she must stay at home and take care of her husband and children. They said a woman must work at home, not outside, and a dowry is something that you should not demand from your husband. They wanted me to be a housewife and stay in a village doing housework.
Hearing this, for the first time I found the courage to tell my father I did not want to marry this boy. He did not agree.
Then I told him the conditions the boy’s family expected me to agree to. My parents still did not agree and they said I must marry this boy. They asked me how could they look at people and endure people’s talking about their daughter refusing to marry.
I didn’t love the boy and it was very difficult for me to accept this marriage. I prayed and prayed. Suddenly a miracle happened and changed my father’s mind. I am sure it was a miracle from God who wanted to help me. My engagement ended.
Now I thank God for giving me the courage to stand up for myself. I thank him for his miracle and sending the angel, my teacher, who encouraged me by telling me I can do what I want.
It is about a year since the engagement ended, but remembering it still makes me cry. In Afghan society a failed engagement is a shame for her family and herself. But it is not important to me if people say bad things about me because I am free and on the way to achieving my goals.
This year I will graduate from university and I hope to pass the exam for my master’s degree, get a scholarship, and go abroad to study. I want to show my parents they should not be ashamed of me, but I am a girl they can be proud of. I faced problems, but now is a time to be happy. I feel proud that I can deal with the pressures my society puts on women.
By Zahra H.
Photo by Sandra Calligaro