April 12, 2015 sistatalks

A letter to … my mother, who forced me into marriage

Since leaving my family home ten years ago, I have dreamed about you on numerous occasions. Even after all this time, and despite being in my 30s with a career and my own place, I have not quite been able to shake off the fear and anxiety you have left me with.

I left after you forced me into marriage. It was a marriage that I had never acquiesced to, with a stranger from India. I had repeatedly told you and my father that I did not want this marriage, but you had forced me, often with the threat that you would take your life if I did not go through with it. So I did.

I have no memory of that wedding day. Though I do remember I was unwell beforehand and lost a lot of weight. Do you remember it? I was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder so, thankfully, my mind had somehow blanked out most of the memories that caused me such distress. I know that it was a huge affair in India with hundreds of guests and I wore an elaborate dress and the traditional gold of a bride.

Those 10 days in India, staying in the house, before I came back home to London, were the most horrible days of my life. It felt as if I had lost everything: my emotional, intellectual and bodily autonomy. Leaving the marriage, when I got back to London, saved my life.