Written by: Ishtiaq Ahmad
Translated by: Hafsa Bint Yar Muhammad Nizamani
"Listen son! I have seen a girl for you. The girl is nice, she is educated and belongs to a well-to-do family. She is good looking, has a normal height, possesses a good character and good habits, but ..." his mother paused. The son looked at her quizzically, without saying anything. “But the girl was engaged to someone before this. The boy's family terminated the engagement. I don’t know the reason neither did I ask them. Nothing bad has been heard about her. There is no other shortcoming in her except that her first engagement was broken. I wanted to tell you in advance so that you might not get upset later on. What is your opinion? Should I go ahead and ask her hand in marriage for you?"
"Mother, will they not let me see even once?" he asked quietly.
"I asked them but they didn’t like it. You will just have to trust my choice."
"But mother, she has a right too," he said with difficulty.
"What do you mean?" his mother asked.
"Will it not be better that she should see me at least once?" he asked.
"The girl's parents have seen you. They are satisfied and have told her all about you. She has no objections."
"Then it is O. K. I don't have any objections either."
"That’s good. I will talk to them today. The girl's parent will formally come to meet you and your father and I will go to their house. In this way the marriage will be arranged."
"O.K, mother, that’s fine."
On the third day, he received a letter by post. The envelope did not have the sender's address. He tore it open and began to read. "Respected Arshad sahib. My name is Rehana. My parents are getting me married to you. You have been told that I was engaged to someone but then the engagement broke. That is not the whole story. The reality has been hidden from your mother too. Therefore she is innocent. My parents are also not guilty because all parents want to get their daughters married somehow or the other. They wish a good partner for their daughter. They want to see their daughter living happily in her own home. This is their biggest wish. My parents are not any different, therefore they concealed the truth. My parents’ honour requires me to remain silent and not to mention it but if I get married to you and you come to know the facts later on then what will happen? I don’t know. The very thought scares me badly. I have therefore decided to tell you everything. But I request you in advance that if you want to refuse to marry me after knowing the reality, you have every right to do so but please don't tell anyone the reason for your refusal. Otherwise my parents will suffer because of me. I hope you will sympathize with me. Now coming to the real point, the fact is that I was not only engaged, I was married too. I lived with my husband in his home for about two years. But my husband did not like me. His parents had made him marry me against his wishes. He somehow or the other spent and then rebelled against his parents. ‘I cannot live with her anymore,’ he told them, ‘therefore I am divorcing her.’ My parents thought that it would be difficult for them to get me married in that city so they left it and came to live here. This is my story. Now it is up to you whether you marry me or not. You are free to decide. You are free to have your own choice. But if you want to refuse, please don't tell anyone about this letter. You can say that you want to marry someone else. In this way my parents will not be grieved too much. They will not be offended. Thanks. I have taken a lot of your time, I hope you will forgive me. Rehana." After reading the letter, he went into deep thought. Then he stood up, came to his mother and kept the letter in front of her. "What is this?" she asked.
"This is a letter from girl with whom you want me to get married," he said.
"What? What do you mean? Rehana has written a letter to you?" his mother was astonished.
"Yes, mother. Just read the letter before saying anything."
"I just can’t believe it! The nerve of the girl! I shall..."
"Don't say anything more mother. Just read the letter," he said again.
As she began reading, her face became red with anger. As she read further, her fury grew. Trembling with rage she threw the letter on the floor and said, "This is too much. Such a big deception, such a huge fraud, such a big lie. But don't worry my son, it is good that we have come to know all this before the marriage. I shall refuse the proposal today. I shall not disclose the real reason why I am refusing as she has requested it. I shall not let anybody know about the letter as she has done us a big favour by telling us the truth in advance. "
"But mother...?" he spoke in a low voice.
"Yes? Go on, why have you stopped? There is no dearth of good girls for you. I shall soon find one better than her."
"No mother," said he.
"What do you mean ‘no mother’?" she looked at him interrogatively.
"I don’t want to lose such an honest, outspoken girl."
"What? What did you say? You will bring a divorced woman in this house?"
"What’s wrong with that, mother? Does our Deen forbid us from doing so?"
"No, our Deen does not stop us, in fact it looks down favourably upon those who do so."
"If our deen does not stop us then why do you object? I think she is the best girl for me."
"Are you sure?" his mother asked slowly.
"I am sure mother," he said with a smile and lowered his head in front of his mother. She put both her hands on his head and gave him her blessings. They felt a strange pleasure. They had smiles on their faces. They were to share these smiles with the girl and her parents too.