Saturday, March 7, 2009

Difficult Decisions

I spent the entire months of September and October listening to various excuses about M's father's health and his brother's wedding. I was still working as a Paramedic at that time for two different jobs. I carried my cell phone 24/7, had phone cards stuffed into my bags and made time every day between 12 and 1 to call M on the off chance that he would get the phone instead of his family.

It got to the point that I would be sleeping at 3 am and get a strange international call from M who had gotten time with his brother's cell phone. These calls were always panicked and nearly always irrational. He sounded like a completely different person in these calls. When he was with me he had been happy, and funny, without a care in the world. He could have fun mopping a floor or posing for goofy pictures. But now he was just sick, depressed and paranoid.

I spent those two months carrying around ticket estimates and a visa application. I was always trying to get his address and permission to come bring him back home.

It was in November that M gave me the bottom line, "They are not going to let me leave until I've gotten married."

He explained that his entire day was loaded with family visits from people his parents considered prospects, calls on the telephone and his family shoving pictures of eligible cousins in front of his face. He spent his days arguing his case in futility and being fought by his parents and siblings, as well as the cousins who accompanied him everywhere he went. The cousins were more subtle, but their message was clear.

I was livid and angry and screaming at this point. All I could think of was broken promises and how 'disappointing' he was to me. It was my opinion that there was no way that he could be so sick that he could not run away, that he could not pull himself out of the illness or the reaching distance of his family. Even hearing his voice, listening to his stories, even with the decreasing contact I could not possibly believe that there was nothing else he could do.

I used every argument that I could think of, the paperwork we had processing, the difficulty of obtaining an international divorce once he'd left, the effect on the girl in question having been married and immediately divorced. I reminded him of his promises to me, and I cried, a lot. I spent the conversation trying not to imagine my own reaction if they made him bring this girl home, something that I did not know was optional in Pakistani culture.

His family had chosen the girl, a cousin living in NWFP whom he'd never met. My phone card died.


  1. each segment just leaves me feeling heavy and heartbroken. ive been through some of this already and its the most painful thing imaginable when it comes to being in love.


  2. How did you stay? It gets worse.. I can't believe it.

  3. I just came across your blog. You are an amazing writer. You leave me wanting to know more and more. I've read through your whole blog, and can't wait to see what happens and how it is now. So many questions!

  4. dangitt! stupid phone card!

    well, this would be all the more frustrating if I didn't know y'all were gonna end up together!

    my gawd that sure is a lot of family drama!

  5. wow...this is crazy. I've read the story so far and am astonished to see that you were still hangin in there waiting and hoping for things to turn out well. Having read similar inter-cultural stories, I keep wondering what motivates someone like yourself to put up with these super complex situations. Didn't you ever say to yourself, 'Man! what have I gotten myself into...I could just date the average American and things would go so much smoother'. What motivated you to get into something so risky? You had no gurantees your marriage would work out even if M's parents approved.

    I don't know how this story ends but I kudos to M for putting up with the psychological torture he went through. I prolly realize this now, but even if M was completely capable... he wouldn't have been able to leave Pakistan. Families play this game where they guilt you into obedience. Constantly reminding you of your responsibilities to them, threatening to disown you and scaring you by telling how your marriage will certainly fail. I've been there, its ugly!

  6. I'm definitely glad to hear someone on M's side, haha, those are few and far between.

    Many times I thought about what you described, "What have I gotten myself into?" or "Why don't I just 'cut my losses' and move on?" . . .but there was just something about him. We would literally tell each other to move on and then less than 10 minutes later be back on the phone with each other. We needed each other. . . inexplicably, and in a way that is not natural. . .anyway, keep reading! It gets better (or worse, lol)