Sunday, April 26, 2009


We were devastated that M was not going to be able to return with me. We had not even considered any other options, but now we were working overtime trying to make a plan. I had brought a considerable amount of money with me for the trip and so a hotel was not a problem. M's cousin, with whom he usually stayed after long trips like this one, was not in Canada. He was at the time visiting the states.

It was very difficult to swallow the new situation, and we didn't yet know all of the implications. At the hotel room we tried to discuss options, but to him it was just hopeless. The next morning we got up and started looking for a longer term hotel to stay in until he could get contact with his cousin and apply for jobs. We used some of the money I had brought to pay for a month in a not so nice motel next to M's mosque. The condition of the motel did not matter as much as it's proximity to both the mosque and his cousin's apartment and the fact that it included his necessary furniture and electricity. Do remember that it was January in Canada. The motel was warm, and that pretty much says it all.

After a few days I had to return home and left M sitting in his room, alone.

For the sake of brevity, I'm going to be a little less detailed about the next few months. The incident at the border had M convinced for months that he had done something wrong and was being punished by God. He was depressed, his cousin was still away, and finding a job in the winter in his city is sometimes difficult. His only comfort was the mosque.

I visited every three to six weeks at that time. Every time I got a few days off, I would drive myself 12 hours to see him. It took months for me to book my first ticket by air, which was a new experience for me. I had never flown anywhere. I scarfed up student airfares and found last minute bargain prices as often as possible.

M was having trouble figuring out the best way to go about the divorce and was beginning to doubt that he could even go through with it. He had called his parents within days of his arrival in Canada and made it known that he intended to divorce the woman. It was made a somewhat more simple (a difference of degrees here) because within days of his return to Canada, the girl's siblings has started calling and writing to M and his family trying to get money (large sums of money) sent for business ventures, among other things.

M tried going to his imam and some of the elders at the mosque for advice on what he should do about the divorce. He ran into a wall when he asked for advice about divorce. The answer was always "try to work it out." The men would not even listen to the story, they just advised not to divorce. It took M until April to find a man he still refers to as "uncle" to listen to his story and advise him based on the actual background and not the pat answer.

In the meantime I was not patient or kind. I was growing more impatient every day. I had waited months for him to return and I had mistakingly thought it would be easy for him to 'leave' the woman he'd met only once. I had no concept of the emotional toll this would take on both M and his family. His parents would change their minds daily going from supporting the decision (on days when her family called for money) to yelling at M for trying to "abandon" this woman and his own family.

In April, "Uncle" managed to convince M that his marriage was not real. M describes it as if Uncle were trying to wake him up. He says Uncle yelled at him that it was not a marriage at all. Uncle criticized his family for ever allowing it to take place. Uncle's own marriage, though it was 45 years ago, was one of love and not necessarily family arrangement. Uncle told M he was "not really married" he told him he had done nothing wrong, and that the woman would be free to marry someone else, as soon a M would "free her" to do so, meaning the divorce. It took this man's opinion to make M feel comfortable enough to go through with everything. It took this man's knowledge to figure out how to best go about the divorce for the sake of both M and the woman.

I had always assumed that M would do a divorce in Canada, but this man asserted that a divorce would be better for the woman if handled in Pakistan. The requirement being a formal letter, witnessed, sent to the union council in her area. This would be quickest for her and would give her proof and the ability to move on quickly. And so, this was how it would be done.

1 comment:

  1. Ahh! This doesn't mean he went BACK to Pakistan, does it? I don't think I could take that kind of turn of events!