Only a man can turn the happiest day in a girl's life into the most miserable one… and, sometimes, even into the last day of her life.
Some people may envy me escaping death that night. Yet, if they knew how I'd spent the past ten years, they'd wish me death a thousand times over, just like I have wished it for myself every day and every night.
I never had any aspirations or dreams about the man I would marry. After all, girls who grow up in extreme poverty like me are not considered good candidates for marriage, even if they are rare beauties like me. I agreed to get married to the first man who proposed to lighten the load for my disabled father. We got married after we miraculously managed to come up with the expenses.
Unlike most girls, I never had any expectations or dreams about my wedding night. Nor did I exert any effort to think of what would happen once I was alone with my husband—whom I hardly knew—for the first time.
Yet, what happened was nothing like any of the stories I'd heard from others. Less than half an hour had passed after we went into the room before my husband started kicking, beating, and calling me the worst names ever. Then he rushed out calling for my father and brother.
He received them with wild rage shouting, "Turns out your respectable daughter isn't a virgin!" and then shoved me towards them, leaving everyone in shock. All their attempts to calm him down were in vain. He insisted that I leave the house on my wedding night in the clothes I was wearing, and sent me my divorce papers the following morning.
For the first time, our miserable house witnessed the meeting of all the patriarchs of the family, half of whom didn't know my name, and the other half were not aware that I even existed. They gathered to discuss the matter and to deal with the scandal. They decided they had to either find a way to prove me innocent or rid themselves of the shame I brought them. Some of them raised their voices demanding that I deserve to be killed, while the educated ones suggested taking me to a doctor. My dad defended me furiously, which led to a crisis, after which a huge fight started, shaking the worn-down walls of our house. At the end, they were all forced to agree to take me to see a doctor.
They dragged my shattered body to the doctor, who assured them that I had never been touched, and issued a report saying so. The family men took this report to my ex-husband, demanding that he takes me back as his wife, or else give me all my legal rights and return my belongings.
He was still in a rage, as if he had found a treasure with his accusation against me. He did nothing but tear the report and throw it in the faces of the men of my family, whom he'd never have dreamed of even shaking hands with. He said sarcastically: "These things don't need documents as a way of proof, gentlemen. Your daughter played around. Get rid of your disgrace instead of going around issuing certificates." He kicked them out shouting, "She has no rights here."
What they later sentenced me to was not any better than killing me. I stayed confined to the worn walls of my house for years, rarely seeing the streets except a couple of times accompanied by my mom or some relatives. I was not allowed to go out until I got married again, but that never happened. For who would ever accept to marry a woman divorced with a scandal? And what a scandal! If I had known that this would happen to me from the start, I wouldn't have hesitated to enjoy the pleasures I had denied myself for years for the sake of my “honour” which was stripped away from me in the course of a night!
The years passed with a burden, and I was doomed to remain a virgin forever. So I stopped keeping track of days and years until I eventually forgot which day or year it was.
Finally, the day came when my mother had to make a tough decision to end my imprisonment by finally allowing me to go out and work. Being humbly educated and having no experience, the only job I managed to get was as a sales assistant at a shop that sells odds and ends.
I tried hard to fight the hungry gazes of men. I always suppressed my desires and tried to focus on my work. After many months, my will was not as strong as before and I agreed to date the handsome guy who used to come to the shop just to see me. He was straight with me from the start: he said that loved me very much but that he couldn't marry me. I was very clear, and decided to accept his friendship on the condition that he would never touch me. I don't know why I put that very strict condition; what do I have to lose if all the men in the world have me? What do I have to preserve except my disgrace?!
We dated secretly for many months. But my constant bad luck didn't allow this relationship to go on without a scandal. One of my cousins saw me walking with this young man in a public park. We were doing nothing but chatting about casual matters, but who would ever believe that a dirty divorcee would only talk about casual life matters!
So, for the second time, the men of the family gathered because of me, their voices rising as they demanded my death. This time, no one was there to defend me and I didn't have the right to defend myself. What could I say after I was seen walking with my lover in public? They decided to kill me and waited for the approval of the head of the family. I sat in my room, curled up on my bed as my mother sat in the corner of the damp room, shedding what remained of her tears. Their distant voices penetrated me deeply; I heard their decision as soon as it was uttered.
How would they do it, I wondered? Some families bury the girl alive in a remote area. Other families end it quickly by stabbing the girl in the heart. Finally, the head of the family, who – either for my good or bad luck – was a well-educated man, arrived. He fought for me and issued his final decree. "No killing in our family", he said.
I felt a strong desire to kneel at his feet and kiss his hands, not to show my gratitude, but to beg him to let them kill me this time.