Life is not a fairytale, and this reality flashed before me four years ago. This reality also made me understand that none else is responsible for my pains. Through the grapevine, I may have learned to blame my parents, my teachers, my mentors, etc., but never to blame myself. But today, I know it’s never their fault. It’s always my fault, because if I want to change; if I want to let go and move on with my life, I’m the only person who can make it happen.
Born into a Muslim family, Islam is the religion I follow as my birth religion. Like thousands of other Muslims, my parents taught me to pray five times a day, fast in the month of Ramadan, read Quran and I learnt few more things as the essential rituals of the religion. But what they did not teach me was how this world would manipulate the religion for their own benefits.
In the year 1999, I was married to a young Muslim man, and I was floating in a different fantasy of time. I was blessed with a sweet son in the first year of our marriage and I was enjoying the beautiful changing colors of motherhood. But, on the other side, the woman and most importantly the human inside me was fighting a battle for respect, love and trust.
I was a working mother, but I was allowed to work only if I don’t make any compromises with family. I was a high performer at work, but back home I was not celebrated and had to manage large doses of insults. My husband had a lot of insecurities, and that reflected adversely on our relationship. My commitment and dedication towards my job was burdened with doubts of my husband, and I was going through a difficult marriage. I wanted to save my marriage and to prove how important my husband was to me; I chose to have another baby.
Over the years, my in-laws and my husband had shown concerns about me not having more kids, and I thought that adding another member to our family will bring freshness to my life. And I was blessed with another son in 2008. The universe around me was changing. I was doing exceptionally well as a mother of two wonderful sons, as a corporate employee, as a life coach and I also believed that I was fulfilling all the duties of a wife.
But I was failing as a woman… daily doses of insult, verbal & physical abuse & character assassination were shattering me from within. I was surrounded by relations that would make fun of my diabetes and everything about me. I started realizing that I had put myself to an incredulous challenge where my acceptance is the least to start with. I was subjected to criticism assuming I would have no knowledge about Islam. I was looked down at various points because of my diabetes and my openness towards equality of men & women was always seen as a sin. Like any other woman, I accepted everything and looked upon my husband to help me to move through. I probably went wrong on this assumption. Months and years passed by and things started falling behind.
Deep inside I knew I was fighting a battle with the unknown and the known. Society demanded me to fulfill its greed to feed the brutalities of men against women. You don’t necessarily have to subject a woman to physical abuse, but those thousand little irritations, disagreements, idiotic details and not accepting the existence of another soul, rejecting her individuality is a massacre of God’s one of the strongest creations known, as woman.
I had adopted myself to the norms of my husband’s family and had grown fondness for them but maybe, in the final analysis, they looked up to me for what I wasn’t, and I had attempted to transform them into something they could never be. It seems that I loved them all, but maybe I never understood any of them.
Alas! They even did not understand me.
It never even struck me that I wouldn’t make it. Perhaps, it never struck to my husband that we would. At times, it would appear that he was just hoping for our fairytale to become a tragedy. I thought I would get through anything and save the family. I tried, really tried, to make my dream come true of growing old with this man and possibly die in his arms. But the divine script rules above everything.
Finally, after 13 years of marriage, I got divorced, and I was allowed to take my two sons with me. I could see my husband leaving a bit too easily and with obvious relief.
I knew it would not be easy to live a life of a single mother with two sons in this part of the world. But I soon started experiencing God’s support coming in from all unexpected sources… my kids stood as my strength, as my pride and as my triumph over betrayal; my job rewarded me with trust, confidence and empowerment; financial stability; friends across the globe extending their immense warmth and support; family stood by my failure and I found myself walking light on the muddy path of shattered dreams and the love that I had lost.
For me the struggle is not yet over. Now came the toughest and most painful trials … “Children’s legal custody”. I was informed that according to the Islamic Family Law, a mother can be a “custodian” of her sons but not the “guardian”. This makes her dependent on the kids’ father to take all key decisions about the kids till they are 21.
This is just too painful and unfair. If a mother is giving all her life and raising her kids with full responsibility, then why she needs the involvement of a man who had already abandoned her and kids? Islam says that the father should take financial responsibility for the kids even if they are living with their mother but in my case, the father has never taken this responsibility. He had never tried to keep relations with his sons. He married another woman and had started his new family. Why on earth would any religion or law support a careless father over a committed mother? Why would a mother need a certificate from a father for his consent to appoint her as the “guardian” of her own kids?
Needless to mention, that this male supporting, male dominating order of law are only reflective of the supremacy of men in Islam. They have conveniently forgotten that Islam has a very fair approach towards women’s education, rights of inheritance, respect as wife and support as a mother. The men in this part of the world have twisted everything to elevate the status of men and look at women as dirty worms who should be always squashed.
Today, I mourn for the world about being ignorant of the pains of a single mother who strives to give the best to her kids independently. With the last bit of strength that I could muster, I promise to raise my two sons with dignity. I cannot let a woman, a mother fail to the toxic vibes of any faith or any culture. We, women, are stronger than that!