I was 22-years-old when my parents sent me to study in Australia, in a prestigious university. My parents are not very rich but they somehow managed to come up with the money to send me here. My father just asked me not to do anything to disappoint him. Well, I kept to myself in the first year and didn’t make friends, but then I started feeling lonely. I made some friends from different countries, and somehow ended up falling in love with an Egyptian student, R. He is a friendly, considerate and very decent person. We wanted to get married, but the problem is that when I brought this matter up to my parents, they told me to return immediately. I still had two years to complete my degree. Plus, I could not leave him and he felt the same way about me. My parents also told me that they had said yes to a proposal from my paternal uncle’s son. Nadine, this cousin of mine is a spoilt brat who was expelled from at least three schools because of his behaviour. He managed to do matriculation as a private candidate, and refused to study further. All family members knew about his affairs with so many different girls! He is rich, and in my parents’ opinion, he doesn’t need a degree. My parents told me that they had given their word to my uncle and if I let them down, they won’t have anything to do with me. I pointed out that his character is really bad, but their argument was that all boys are that way before marriage and they change once they settle down. I just couldn’t bring myself to obey them and told my parents I would marry R. They sent me a nasty message and cut me off. Then, with the help of my friends, I had my nikah in a local mosque, and then we also registered our marriage according to the legal requirement. I had a feeling that my parents would come around, but have now realised that they would never forgive me. It’s been three years and I try to call them daily, send them letters but to no avail. They married off my younger sister to that cousin in my place, and my other cousins, with whom I am in touch with, say that my poor sister is living a miserable life. My cousin did not change at all, and is even considering another marriage, although my sister is expecting their second child. My parents blame me for that, too. I am very happy with R, but feel guilty about it. Had I not married him, my sister wouldn’t be so unhappy. I realise that my parents did everything for me; it is because they sent me here, to Australia, that I am living such a happy life. I love them and miss them a lot, but they have forsaken me. I thought that they would forgive me in a couple of months, but I was wrong. Do you think they were right and I should have married my cousin? Nadine, please tell me what I should do. I am depressed.
Dear Desperate Soul,
Your parents knew what type of a person your cousin is, but they still wanted you to marry him, probably because it’s a baradri (community) thing. What they did not realise was that they enabled you to think for yourself. No one can blame you for not wanting to jump into a ditch with your eyes wide open.
It was not fair on your parents’ part to expect you to marry your cousin. The fact that your sister is not happy should have made them realise that you were right in not wanting to marry him. You knew he was not a good person, and did what you thought was right, which is your right. I hope your parents forgive you for making the correct choice, but even if they do so, it will not be any time soon. They feel humiliated in front of their family and it’s their way of showing to their relatives that they had no hand in your decision and are angry with you for defying traditions. What your family members feel about this matter is their business, so don’t let it depress you. Don’t let this family problem interfere your life and happiness. Keep trying to win over your parents, and pray to God to help you. Best of luck!