I am writing after a long time because I prefer to write on real life incident because in this way, I can communicate with heart. I do feel every word I write. On 2nd March 2018, I attended a zoom meeting with World Pulse members. The incident I am going to write about has been happened before the meeting but I had no idea that I will write about it. But when Stella Paul said, “Write everything you feel whatever it is, its happiness, anger, joy, and love whatever it is, do share” then I decided to write my feelings. I am going to share about the things I am suffering now a day and they have made me feel so deeply hurt and angry. On the other side, they made me courageous than before.
I, Aysh Khan belong to a lower middle class family of Pakistan. My father was a very poor fruit seller and we had money just to meet our daily expenses. Due to shortage of money, my education was never a priority for my father. But I was fond of studies so with my mother’s unending support, I somehow continued. My father died when I was in 8th standard. After his death my relatives wanted me to leave study and get married. They forced my mother for this but she rejected their idea and preferred my passion for education. I did matric and intermediate from government institutes of my town where education is almost free. After my intermediate, one of my cousin brothers helped me financially to complete my graduation from university. He wanted me to be independent for myself and for my family. Since then I have done multiple jobs and still doing. With that I also get Masters degrees on my own.
I am proudly writing that I worked really hard and chose my dreams over society restrictions. I travelled on local rickshaws and busses during university days for 4 years. Even after getting job, I have same source of travel since 5 years. I am mentioning it because in Pakistan, local travel is one of most dangerous things for a girl. You have to face hundreds of men’s eyes on you who will look you in most inappropriate way from head to toe, you have to ignore their whistles and keep walking because other option is to sit home. Some of them can be so desperate that they will harass you or try to touch you. You can yell at them but they will smile as they have completed their mission to scare you. I have faced all of this and have been brave with the passage of time. Now I don’t get scared with their eyes rather I start looking into their eyes with anger, it embarrasses them and I can sense that. I had option to sit idle at home and get married with any boy my family chooses as other girls of my family do. But I thought beyond that and wanted well for all my family members. There were some marriage proposals came in my way during all these years but I had different priorities so I kept my focus over there.
Now I am 26 years old and all of my relatives are forcing my mother to find a spouse for me. Whenever I or my mother meets any of them, they ask, when Aysh is getting married. Have not you seeing any boy for her? She is getting old. They made me feel like I am not good enough to fit in the society while being single at this age. Nobody asks me “how are you or your mother?” They say, get married as your mother’s health is not so good now and God forbid if something bad happens to her, you will be alone and that’s not good for you.
Nobody encourages me for the work I have done or doing. With my 9 to 5 job, I support my family expenses and my sister's education. I also work with Zephaniah Free Education where we are changing women's life for better through education and empowerment. While I am getting recognition and encouragement on international level, my relatives try to put me down. They say that after a specific age, you won’t get good proposals and you have to compromise. I can’t tell in words, how much it hurts. They say that your husband and in laws will have no interest in your degrees, your job and the society work you do. They have only one concern that how well you can do home chores and can take care of them.
Some days before, they suggested a proposal and tried to convince me for it. That boy has not done even matric. They asked to me, what you will do with his education? They do not understand that he will not support my work as he will not understand its importance for me and my soul. When I rejected the proposal, they all became very angry and said that you have no respect for elders and your education ruined you as a girl. They have almost boycotted me. One of my uncles said that he will not attend my marriage if I marry a guy who is not of our caste. Though I am not in relationship with any boy but it made me feel so deeply hurt. I cried days and nights after listening this. I love these people all my life. I never broke their trust. I just worked for me and my family’s betterment. But still I find myself not fitting between them. They all have made a distance to me and said that you do not love us so you rejected our suggestion for your life.
I feel my soul has been shattered and I never found myself so alone ever before. While I am making new friends through digital technology and getting recognition and love from people who live in other sides of world, my own family disowns me. I cannot tell my pain to mother as she is a hepatitis patient and any kind of tension is not good for her health. She became widow when she was 39 years old and she spent her life for her children. Now I want her to make as happy as I can. But this society tries to set limits for me and wants me to follow their opinions.
My question is from all those people who set patterns for a woman. Who are you to tell us that education is necessary for us or not? Who are you to define a certain age for marriage? Who are you to decide whether women should do job or not? Why women can’t go out after evening? Who are you to make me feel that whatever I have achieved is not important until I have a man besides me? You cannot tell me what dreams I should have. You want to know my limits? Its beyond skies.
God has given this life to me and He will find a spouse for me and send him in my life at perfect time with perfect reasons. If He has written that I will stay single, I am completely happy with that too. I am not wasting my days rather I am using every moment for betterment of as much people as I can including myself. God has showed this way to me and I am proud of my life. I have lived like a warrior. After the death of my father and my younger brother, I did not sit back rather I fought back and came out brighter on other side. So if you think that by making me alone you can break me, you are wrong. You cannot ruin my life by putting such pressure on me. I will not get married in fear of staying alone. I will not let you to destruct me just to be perfect in your eyes. I see myself complete and that’s enough. You cannot shame me because I choose my dreams. The thing which should be changed is perspective of people who set such patterns for women.
To all my readers including men and women, I request all of you to stop being judgmental if you are. Do not force any one to take decisions of their lives according to your will. You have no idea what kind of battles they are fighting in their lives. If you can’t be helpful, at least be kind.
And my specific massage for all those women who are facing problems and hurdles like me or in any other way, stay strong and trust your God. On this international Women’s day, make promise to yourself that you will do whatever you feel good for you and you would not be embarrassed for choosing yourself. Go, get education, be independent and help world to be a better place to live. Be proud of yourself and never compromise just because it’s easy. Why fit in? When you are born to stand out.