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Only a Woman can Understand another Woman's Agony

Because a woman is also a human being, she needs not only food, drink, shelter, and clothes, but also love and respect.
by TNN Editor - 09 Mar, 2023 1660

Humira Aleem

8 March Women's Day. Comments from all walks of life on the Women's March and the mojo-putting placards and slogans written on them by women participants. I am tired of seeing all this. What is all this about? Everyone is promoting their own business.

I am a woman, How could anyone understand me better than I know myself? When I was born my parents were sad because they were seeing the list of dowry, not the daughter, which they had to give on her marriage.

Then, my brother was born, and my mother, who is a woman, started giving more importance to her son. "Leg piece is for brother, take another piece of chicken."

"Your Brother needs a school uniform, you can have one next year."

"Get up, bring your brother water. He has been playing cricket in the heat."

But no one ever said this. "You should eat the leg piece, and your brother will take another one."

"Your uniform is torn, so you can have a new uniform and your brother will have one next year".

If I get back from college n m exhausted, no one would have asked my brother to give cold water to your sister. Warm her food in the oven."

I had a bad blood for this discrimination since my childhood." Boys are better than girls. No matter what they do, they fail in studies, commit bullying, wander, take drugs, everything is permissible for them.

But even if the girl is polite, dignified, educated, and employed, she is still a burden to the family.

When I grew up, I saw in movies and dramas that a woman who remains silent even after enduring all the abuses of her in-laws, and husband is good.

A woman who raises her voice for her rights is the worst. So I decided that I will be a lady who tolerates everything. I was married without asking. I succumbed thinking "girls are not asked for their assent in our society."

The husband I found, was a typical Pakistani man who thinks it is his right to have a girlfriend.

If a woman goes astray due to her husband's carelessness, then she is a sinner. To be a 24/7 maid of my in-laws, and the indifference of my husband, I endured everything, even hitting. Yes! Physical abuse too.

You must be thinking that I must have done something wrong that made my husband furious. Maybe it was my fault.

My husband had given me a gold chain as a wedding gift, but it fell somewhere, I didn't know. When I couldn't find it, I was very worried. The mother-in-law noticed it:" Where is the chain that Asjad gave you?"

I was making loaves in the kitchen, touched my neck, and stopped breathing: "O Lord! Help me. Mom! it must be here somewhere, maybe it fell somewhere." I replied.

Fell or you have given it to your mother." She said in a sarcastic tone.

"Hmmm! why would my parents need this small chain? Thank God, they are wealthier than you." I wanted to reply, but couldn't.

As soon as Asjad returned from the office she empoisoned him. He called me: "Somaya! come here immediately." I rushed to the lounge n found my Mother-in-law, father-in-law, and sister-in-law n brother in law were sitting there.

"Yes! Do you want to have lunch? I will set the table. "I tried to be efficient. He asked angrily: "Where is your chain?"

I glanced at everyone. They were all looking at me. "It must have fallen somewhere. I'll look for it..." Bang! Before I could finish my sentence, he smacked me on the cheek.

Interrogation before so many people and then immediate punishment.

I looked at everyone's faces. Mother-in-law's triumphant look, Sister-in-law's sarcastic, brother-in-law's and father-in-law's scornful looks, God, so much insult just for one chain.

"Did it fall or did you give it to your mother?" Asjad shouted. "I did not go to my mother's home for the last two months. And Chain has fallen somewhere today." I whispered.

"That's enough! instead of admitting your mistake, you are arguing. Go away bring me something to eat, I'm hungry." He shouted. I was so offended n ran to the kitchen.

I couldn't cry because I was sure that it was my fault. "It's not his fault? I have to be careful. But things get lost and broken. Does it mean one should smack his wife in front of his family? Moreover, no one stopped him." The mind made a feeble attempt to protest.

"No! No! What was their mistake? Did Asjad ask for their permission to slap me?" I told myself.

Then it became a daily routine. "Somaya! come here." The mother-in-law called. Everyone would sit on the sofas and I would stand with my head bowed like a criminal: "Did you pick up the CD from the trolley?"

Everyone knew that I do all the chores alone and don't watch movies, still, I was a suspect: "No! Mom I was in the kitchen! I was cleaning and cooking. Neena was watching a movie, maybe she knows."

The mother-in-law turned around looking at Nina. "No, no, mom! I was studying in my room. I wasn't watching the movie."

"See!'' She turned towards me:" you are accusing my daughter. pick up the Quran n swear that you haven't picked up the CD." She demanded

"What!!!! Should I pick up the Quran n swear for a CD?" I was stunned. "See, she s a liar. that's why she isn't picking up the Quran?" Nina added fuel to the fire. I was destined to get beaten again in the evening.

once we were coming back from the house of my older sister-in-law. She was sick. So her six-year-old child came with us. Asjad did not see the signal and went forward breaking the signal. The traffic Sergeant came and stopped in front of the car. "Sir! You will be charged as you have broken the signal. "Give me your license, please!" Sergeant said.

Asjad got out of the car, maybe he tried to bribe him, but when it didn't work and he received the ticket, he came and sat down and slapped me hard on the face.

That slap on the busy road was a slap to my soul. An old lady who was standing along the road came to our side and said: "O Mister! You look like an educated person but you are behaving like an ignorant. You should be ashamed of yourself. And you girl! Why are you living with such a savage? Don't you have any family or friends?" The woman was very angry and reprimanded him.

Asjad drove the car. What could I tell her, God forbid! I have everyone, my family n friends too! Neither i was an orphan nor forsaken but I couldn't tell anyone due to the fear of society.

My mother-in-law was already trying to get me out, "Alas! My son is so unfortunate. It's been three years since their marriage and she still hasn't been able to give a child to my son. What can I do?"

I couldn't dare to tell her that After a few days of our wedding, your son was fed up with me n now he spends time with a new girlfriend every day. I am not Maryam (peace be upon her) to give you children.

At last, Allah acquitted me of this charge too. After five years of marriage, I had a son, so I thought maybe I would get a chance to breathe. But it was a mistake. Neither the husband nor the in-laws changed.

My sister n brother in law also got married. And the new bride demanded a separate house which her husband instantly accepted. But my suffering had no end.

By Allah's will, Asjad was posted in Karachi. He wanted a maid for chores, so he had to take me with him.

While grocery shopping in Karachi, I met a few childhood friends. Their married life was very prosperous, I felt so sorry for myself. Then I thought, it doesn't matter. If Asjad is not loyal and doesn't respect me, so what, at least he is bearing all my expenses.

The mind rebelled again. "For heaven's sake Somiya! Your watchman's wife has better clothes and shoes than you. And the janitor is better than you who earns 15,000 monthly. You never had the opportunity to have 10 rupees from Asjad. And your family is bearing all your n your kids' expenses "

So what! he is providing me with food, drink, and accommodation? O yeah! If there was a 24/7 maid, he would have provided these to her too. You ain't so lucky to have these."

I shook my head and got back to work. My son was 5 years old when Allah blessed me with a daughter. I thought maybe Asjad would change after her birth but it didn't happen.

Once, I was so through n exhausted that I contacted a famous human rights lawyer. After telling her the whole story, I asked for her advice. She started saying: "Leave the children and come to our office as soon as possible."

"What??? I should leave the children?" I said in surprise. "Yes, let's just make him raise children alone and work and fight a case, then he'll realize your value." The answer came.

"Where will you take me? My children, especially my daughter, are very young. I can never leave my children." I said worriedly.

"Look, lady! we don't have any such place, so we will keep you in Dar ul Aman. Then our NGO will help you get a divorce so you can go wherever you want." She proudly told me.

I gasped: "Darul Aman? But! You know what happens with women there. Then where will I go after the divorce? I have neither money nor a shelter." I knew that if I got divorced and went to my parent's house, no one would let me even cross the threshold of the house.

"That's your problem. You can think about it and then call me." She said and hung up.

I got a similar response from all the so-called women's rights lawyers or organizations that I phoned to. The children do not go to anyone except me, neither do they eat nor sleep. If I leave them, then what is the purpose of my life?

After pondering upon it, I understood that all the human rights activists actually see their own benefit in the foreign funding they get for getting women divorced. Then even if the victim of violence gets out of her home and becomes an escort they damn care about it.

I have to do this for the sake of my children. I have to live in this hell, I will have to endure all this. But I will definitely give it one last try.

When Asjad came in the evening, after taking dinner, I made the children sit in their room with toys and said to Asjad. "I want to talk to you about something very important."

"I m listening!" He said. "I know you're going to feel bad about this. But now that the kids are growing up, what happens between us is affecting them too. I think we should see an Islamic scholar or a counselor." I said fearing he'll be annoyed.

But Asjad was in a good mood that day or Allah Ta'ala had mercy on me. He nodded.

At the weekend, he himself took me to a religious scholar. Who counseled n referred us to a psychiatrist so we started counseling with both. The effect of this was that Asjad stopped hitting me. Although still no cordial relationship could be established between us.

And the truth is, now I hate him so much that I can never love him. But fear of society, lack of financial resources, and housing and children are the factors that forced me to stay with this person.

I wish I was a member of an Islamic society where a divorced woman isn't treated as an outcast. Had it not been so even my parents would have rescued me from this beast.

I should not have been subjected to physical and mental violence like this. I could not get out of this trap.

But I will nurture my son in such a way that he will respect every woman; be it mother, sister, wife, daughter, or any woman, and consider it cowardice n a sin to raise a hand on a woman.

Because a woman is also a human being, she needs not only food, drink, shelter, and clothes, but also love and respect. I am a woman so I can understand another woman's agony. My son will not follow in his father's footsteps.

Note: This is a story based on true events