Listen to the letter here
This is not a love letter; this is my story.
I am writing you this letter because I feel lonely. I live with my father and step-mother in a big village. Everyone in town knows me and knows my name, but I still feel lonely. I haven’t left the house in three years, but I got used to it somehow. Here in my own room, I have all my toys to keep me company. I play with them all day, even though I am already 21 years old. Let me tell you how I got here. It all started six years ago.....
When I was 15 years old, my step-mother came to me and told me that I was going to be married to someone. I come from a traditional family, and no matter how much you achieve as a girl, you will end up being married off at a young age before you even start taking your first steps towards achieving your dreams.
I didn’t know anything about marriage and thought:
“I am just a child; please God, don’t let this happen. Please just let me die.”
I was so scared, and on my wedding day, even my uncle tried to stop it from happening. He told my father - “how do you give away a child? You are ruining her.”
Even though he tried to stop them, they continued to dress me up in my wedding gown. I left the house crying, and cried even more as I entered my husband’s family’s house. I was given a room there which I rarely left. I felt so shy and embarrassed... I kept thinking:
“How will I go to the bathroom? How will I eat with them? I don’t even know them!”
My husband tried to consummate the marriage twice, but it didn’t work. I was too fragile, and when he would approach me, I would just faint. I told my family about it when they came to visit me. My uncle who was with them at that time, told me to pack my things, and that he would take me away from there. But my father stopped him, and pulled him outside of my in-laws' house with the help of my brother. As for my step-mother, she would tell my father, “if it doesn’t happen today, it’s okay; it will happen tomorrow.” Of course, they were discussing the consummation of the marriage, which is the physical act that legalizes the marriage in Islam. We even went to a religious leader who said that if the physical act did not happen within a year, the marriage would become null.
My husband then took me to a doctor to undergo some medical tests, and that is when I found out about my curse and blessing: I had a rare disease called Hypopituitarism, which makes you very frail and unable to carry children. This also meant that my husband now had legitimate grounds to divorce me in court, which is exactly what happened only 20 days into my marriage.
I was so happy to be finally back home, in my room, with my family and my toys... I didn’t care about my disease; it didn’t bother me. Yes, I now had to take medicines for the rest of my life, but I got my freedom back, and that’s what mattered most to me.
After my divorce, I started wearing colourful clothes again, and went out to play with the boys my age... Eventually, everybody would refuse to play with me; and I started noticing how people would look at me. They would start whispering and pointing fingers at me. Soon enough, nobody in my neighborhood would talk to me and I quickly realized that it wasn’t because I had a disease that made me frail, it was because I was a divorcee.
As a divorced young girl, I myself became a disease in the eyes of others. The place I once called home had rejected me and outcasted me. They threw me into a jail cell in an imaginary world that I created in the safety of my own room. This is why I stopped leaving the house and resigned myself to a life sentence among toys instead of people.
After all, things at home were not so bad. As long as I cooked, cleaned, did the laundry, and picked up after my brothers, nobody would bother me. They would let me stay in my room peacefully where I spent long afternoons and evenings in my imaginary world.
I wish I could end my letter on a happier note, or with a similar story to Cinderella. But remember! Cinderella had mice to help her out; and she was only fighting two evil stepsisters and a stepmother, while I have an entire culture standing in my way.
I genuinely hope that whoever is reading my letter and possibly going through a similar experience would have more will and courage to leave their self-imposed prison, but for now, I am at peace with mine.
A former child bride