April 12, 2015 sistatalks

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

It has been a long time since those days. I have survived 10 years, and I have flourished with a lot of help, but there have been points of acute depression, self-harm, and destructive behavior. I still find it painfully difficult to maintain intimate relationships.

Even though I have unpicked your motives, with many therapists, your behavior still astounds me. The most significant pain I have is feeling that you never loved or cared for me. If you had, you would never have put me in harm’s way.

I know that you were only 17 yourself when you got married to my father, a man who was emotionally absent most of the time. You held steadfastly to the culture and tradition you had come from in India. But why was there such a lack of love? Why was it so much easier to sacrifice your daughter to keep community honor? I still don’t understand.

In the past few years, I have begun to campaign on these issues. I have written widely on honor-based violence and forced marriage. I wish I had known then that what was happening to me was such a grave injustice; I was far too scared to walk out and quite naive. When I speak to women now, I tell them that the pain of estrangement is preferable to sacrifice yourself for your family. Marrying a man against your expressed wishes will harm you in ways you can’t yet envisage.