Today I suffer from a traditional, superstitious ceremony that happened when my daughter was born. When a new baby boy first enters the grandmother’s room, she calls out for a candidate for his marriage.
When I came home from the hospital with my newborn daughter, we lived in the same house with my mother-in-law, which is a common tradition for newlywed couples. My mother-in-law came to greet me. She kissed the new baby, my one-and-a-half-year-old son, my husband, and me.
At the same time my brother-in-law’s son entered our home. My mother-in-law immediately shouted, “Congratulations to my grandchildren who are now candidates to each other!”
Then she called all of our family members and distributed sweets. She was so happy for having decided this nomination.
It was a crazy act. “My God, what nonsense,” I thought. I was not able to tolerate this nomination, but it was shameful for me to raise my voice to tell her that it was not a good idea and actually very bad for our children’s future. What if they didn’t love or even like each other?
After decades of war in Afghanistan, we have gone through many changes in our lives. My brother-in-law’s family went to Switzerland and we went to Pakistan. After ten years, we came back to our homeland. Following a life of hardship from our migration, returning home to our country, and reconstructing our house, I have accepted all the challenges and rebuilt my life.
My daughter graduated from twelfth grade and recently went to India for a month to learn computer and English skills. I was very happy about this opportunity for her.
My brother, who lives in the Netherlands, has been so happy about our children’s education that he will support them for the rest of their education if they come to the Netherlands. However, I have to find an agency or organization in the Netherlands to write official invitation letters for them.
So recently I have been looking forward to finding internships for my daughter to continue her English and computer skills. She wants to get her Bachelor of Business Administration degree.
Then, suddenly, my brother-in-law’s family contacted us to ask for my daughter’s engagement to their son, the plan nominated in childhood by the grandmother!
My daughter cannot accept it. She doesn’t agree with the marriage idea. She cries and cries, and asks us, “What does it mean? Why has Grandmother made this problem?”
I have no words to explain. I just said it is a cultural custom. But now I must worry about her future.
My mother-in-law is very strict about keeping her promise and she encourages my brother-in-law’s son to enforce this marriage. I cannot watch my daughter’s tears. I asked my husband to discuss it with his family, but unfortunately they will not agree to dismiss the marriage. Although my daughter cries, my mother-in-law said that is nothing; she will be happy when she is married. We can delay the marriage for now so my daughter can finish her education. But culturally it is unacceptable for my mother-in-law to drop her nomination. They have encouraged their son since childhood in this marriage and he loves my daughter. But my daughter does not like him and doesn’t love him.
So what can I do? I must find scholarships for my daughter and also for my son. My daughter cannot go alone to the Netherlands because it will raise more questions from my mother-in law’s family, but my son and daughter can go together. My brother is very sad about the forced marriage and he will take them both and support their residence and education. But we still must get official invitation letters from an agency or organization in the Netherlands.
Photo by Carolyn I.