Editor’s note: This is the third piece in an ongoing struggle for one of our writers; her previous pieces are linked below. Although AWWP regularly uses our writers’ real first names, avoiding specific geographic locators or family names, occasionally we feel a writer whose situation we know well is at such risk that security demands we run a piece anonymously.
I live in fear. Because I married the man of my choice instead of my cousin, when a knock comes at the door my husband and I don’t dare answer. When we leave the house, we only hope we can return in the evening. Covering my face with a black veil, avoiding contact with my friends, hiding myself in public makes me feel alone and mad. I am fifty years older inside than I am on the calendar, and so very tired of the war in my life.
Current life is a cancer for me: when I take care of one problem, another grows. When that problem is a bit solved, the other is waiting. The biggest problem is my uncle, father of my cousin, who is a storm of torment in my life. He continues to follow and remind me that he is there for revenge. I guard myself when away from home. I must work to take care of my life. My husband earns only $30 a month.
My mom is another concern. She left the country out of fear of my uncle. She needs an urgent operation, but due to my own problems, I couldn’t afford to pay for that. Her harsh pain has been beyond her tolerance and she has wanted to end her life.
My in-laws are worried for our safety. If anything should happen to my husband, I would be to blame. My brother-in-law is reacting as a new uncle. He thinks I am a cheap woman who deceived his brother. He says I must make peace with my uncle or else stay at home and never go out. He told us to leave our current house and live with them instead. I agreed; otherwise, I fear he would contact my uncle and give me up to him.
I respect my in-laws because my husband is a kind man. He never cares what others say about me. He consoles me, is patient with my problems, and gives me hope that we will find a solution. But my in-laws think I am a highflying woman, a selfish, ignorant lady who values only her own desires and disrespects her family by marrying without permission. I have to have a baby; it is a question of must. To obey my in-laws, I would love to have a child; I would love to bring a change in my life, but I don’t want my children to have to share my destiny. I can’t bear to think my uncle might kill us and continue enmity against my children because I didn’t marry his son.
I can’t share my personal situation with legal officials because my uncle has connections and the winner is always the one with more money to bribe. If we were to leave for a neighboring country, we wouldn’t be able to afford life. I can’t share what is going on with my closest friends because they blame me for forgetting I am a woman and choosing my own husband, ignoring the customs. I am proud of my strengths, and that I stood up against everything. But I am destroyed inside; my soul is hardened. And I think my critics are right. I must deal with the cost of losing my poor mom. I bought my freedom, yet I can’t breathe. I bought my freedom, but not my happiness.
My husband reads the stories of famous men to me at night and he recalls my own energy. I am waiting for the day when I can get my master’s degree, and then open a school of ideology and teach our people to respect human rights so that the next, next, next, next, and next generations won’t have our destiny.
It is childish and silly, but every morning I open my notebook and list new desires, hopes, and plans for my unknown tomorrow.