I was sixteen years old. In my mind I could hear: “Tonight commotion is in my mind, tonight light is in my heart”—the song by Iranian singer Shakila who I loved listening to.
Every evening, the nightingales in the trees by our house serenaded me with songs of joy, happiness, and excitement. I was a girl with dreams and hopes of studying, having a job and working for her land.
But all of those dreams were destroyed by my family when they decided I would be recognized only as “virtuous goods”—a girl to sell.
I shattered like window glass, but without sound. Nobody heard my screaming in the silence.
I was unaware of so many things—I did not understand the concept and meaning of marriage. People came to the house to see if I was suitable. I didn’t know this was going on. They were not his parents; they were friends of his family. They accepted me and then their men talked with our men, according to Afghan tradition. I didn’t know that men also came to our home.
I thought that when my parents are satisfied it means everything is good—because they are my parents. They always said to me: “Parents never do anything against their children.”
But is it true?
It is very hard to describe all my feelings at the time. I could not question my father about it. He was sad and angry. I knew I should respect everything that my father approved.
But I heard my father tell my younger brother: “He has a wife and one daughter.”
When I heard this, I was very afraid and very sad. I went to my mother while she cooked bread in the hand oven. I said to my mom: “I heard he has a wife and daughter.”
My mother was silent. But there was a flame of regret in my mother’s heart. She said nothing.
He was about twenty years older then me. He had married about three years before and he had no son. This meant the only reason he wanted me was for getting pregnant and putting out children. That was all I was important for.
What if I couldn’t have a son? What would happen to me? I was afraid. If I did not have a son he would abandon me. It is so hard when women are thought of only as something to sell when they are young, and later they become worthless goods. This is the definition of marriage that my family made evident to me.
Finally, I stayed with my destiny, alone. This is how my marriage began. It was very difficult and unbelievable. Now I can write my feelings of that time and what happened to me.
This post was written by Nasima and originally appeared on the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. Republished with permission.
This is the fourth in an autobiographical series originally published on the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. You can read the first three at Destiny Awaits: a Lyric Essay, Born in an Iran Refugee Camp, and What Is My Crime?.
The Afghan Women’s Writing Project was founded in 2009 in defence of the human right to voice one’s story. Poems & essays by Afghan women are published online at awwproject.org.