An Insubstantial Torment

“But his eyes are too small, his nose doesn’t look sharp and look at his beard!”, she bleated as she looked at a photograph her mother had shown her that morning. Laiba was a twenty-one year old, pink, sharp-featured girl. She was brought up by her mother with two little brothers, with their father abroad. After finishing her studies in a convent not very far from her place, she had wanted to continue her higher studies abroad but had not been permitted. Laiba’s future was written by God and implemented by her parents. They wanted her to get married.

“How do I make my mother understand? I want a husband like Zaid Ali”, she told her friends whenever she met them. Laiba’s close-friends were all married when they were very young. Some of them were married to their cousins and the others, to men who were well-educated but not strikingly handsome. Some of them had often told Laiba, “Stop searching for good-looks, it’s all about how much he’s going to love you.” But that did not convince her. She thought she’d wait for  Prince charming or a Flynn Rider until her twenty-third birthday.

“Laiba! The groom’s family is already here… Mom wants you to hurry up”, her little brother shouted as she finished winging her eyeliner. She stood up, meticulous enough not to spoil her neatly pressed Salwar and looked into the mirror for one last time before she went down to meet her future in-laws.

“It’s a dream come true.’’, she sighed and smiled.

On the couch she saw two ladies, engaged in deep talk with her mother and aunt. As she walked down, her mother looked at her and made her sit beside. The two ladies looked at her, they had no smile or any sort of reaction on their faces that made Laiba a little nervous but her aunt broke out,

“When is the groom coming to the country?”

“Probably in a week’s time” one of the two ladies told and continued looking at Laiba.

Feeling edgy, she looked at her mother and then looked down. She had seen the groom in few pictures they had e-mailed her father and the rest in his Instagram profile when she did a little bit of stalking. He was a tall, broad man, stunningly good-looking and alluring. Ever since Laiba saw him, she had decided that he is the perfect match she’d been looking for. Her aunt had told her that he was an IT Manager at a well-known company in Australia and that he would hopefully take Laiba along with him after marriage. Losing herself in her very own thoughts about the groom, she could sense a smile brightening up on her face.

“What have you studied?, one of the two women asked her to which she lost her smile and looked at them.

“I finished school and stayed back home.”

After few minutes of silence the two women informed them they’re leaving. Laiba was uncertain to what their final saying to her mother was but she walked with them to the door. As she saw them get into a car and leave, she turned back to her mother who looked very clear.

“Is this working out mom?” , she asked, hoping for a ‘yes’.

Her mother smiled at her and nodded, assuring Laiba everything is fine.

A handsome guy and a pretty girl will make a beautiful wedding, but a faithful man a pious woman will make a Beautiful marriage.

The wedding preparations were being made, and day and night Laiba got carried away by phone calls and conversations with the groom. He seemed to be the perfection she’s been looking for; he made her laugh, told her the most beautiful things she wanted to hear, gave her hopes and presents when she least expected. Everything seemed perfect then.

Few months afterwards, their wedding was over and Laiba was sent to Australia with her husband. She went with him happily, unaware about the high amount of dowry her father had paid to keep her happy with him. ‘You need not worry about your daughter’, the groom had reassured before leaving. ‘She’s my wife now, she’s going to be happy forever’. Her parents lived back in the country, satisfactorily believing in their groom’s words.

Her life in an apartment with her husband went on very smoothly, and she loved every little gestures of him. She shared pictures of her husband and herself with her friends and told them she’s happy with her ‘dream boy’. She always complimented on his looks and he did the same.

“Don’t you think we should go back to the country some time?” he asked her one day, to which she replied ‘no’. Laiba did not want to go back to the country, she liked her life back in Australia.

“I am not being paid properly at work, and my income is just not enough for us to lead a normal life here. I’ve made all the preparations for you to leave next week. You leave first, and I’ll come the following week”. Laiba had tried convincing him that she can’t leave without him but finally she had to.

She returned back to the country and stayed back with her parents for few days. Her in-laws did not return her calls until one day she was informed by a friend that her husband was in a living-together relationship with another woman in Australia. Laiba was heartbroken, but she did not know how to react. She did not want to tell her parents about it, because she knew her marriage would break then. Keeping it to herself, for nearly a month, she cried herself to sleep every night and still hoped that whatever her friend had told should be a lie.

One day, as she opened the door to receive a letter, she realised that life always surprised her when she was least prepared. Her hopes died, and eyes watered. She had no words to speak, instead she broke down on the couch and wept. Her parents were informed and procedures were done to call the marriage off. It seemed to be a simple process, not to her, but to everybody around her, because ‘divorce’ unlike in the old days, was not taken very seriously. Laiba was told about her husband later on by a lot of people she met. Her father explained to her about the dowry he had demanded and her mother told her about how rude her in-laws had been to her that day.

“Why did nobody tell me all this before my marriage?”, she cried.

“You told us he’s the perfect match you’d been looking for. We did not want to disappoint you”, her mother returned.

“But I was only talking about his appearance and all the sweet words he used to make me feel good.”

“That’s all you looked for, Laiba. Good looks, and beguiling words.”

Don’t expect your spouse to be perfect. He/she is only the Dunya version of themselves. Their Perfect version is saved for Jannah.

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