Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Blessing

As soon as the words were out of M's mouth, Z jumped into high gear. He needed the number to the mosque that we had contacted (the only one that agreed to perform the nikkah (wedding)) and he took it upon himself to start trying to round up witnesses. I tried to slow things down because I was convinced that M didn't mean it and that if we went too quickly I'd end up with a runner at the proverbial altar. . . Well, there was no altar, but you get what I mean.

Z made the calls and on two hours notice, we had a three o'clock appointment at the mosque. The Imam himself answered the phone and set up the appointment. We went back to M's apartment, he said he had things to do before we went, and I needed to change clothes. I decided to wear a pretty salwar kameez that M had brought me back from Pakistan and I decided the shirt M would wear. But as I turned around I saw that M had gotten Z to give him a phone card and he disappeared into the bedroom. It was after midnight Karachi time and M looked very serious. He took the phone and the phone card and I heard very stern Hindko coming from the bedroom. I walked in, worried. M had started to cry.

He had called his mother to tell her what was happening and to his surprise, and mine too, she started to cry. She was not crying as if he was betraying her by marrying 'gori,' which she still called me, but because, she told him, she wished she could be there with him to see it happen. After everything they had done to fight the marriage, he got his mother's blessing.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

His Everything

As I've said before, one of M's biggest complaints living in Canada was his lack of familial support. This is not to pretend that if his family was with him in Canada that they would have been much support, but in his head, that was the meaning and importance of family--to support you in big life changes. To want the best for you. The week I came for spring break, the week my parents came to Montreal, Z became all of those things for M. Z took the place of M's father, uncle, cousin and best friend.

My parents arrived while M was still at work. When he got home we led them to their hotel room and ordered a pizza for dinner. We saved all heavy talk for the next day. My dad and M spoke in Urdu and my dad told stories. M really just listened a lot and then we left them to rest. The next morning Z went with M and I to talk to my parents. Z and my dad got along very well. They all started with talking to my dad in Urdu and telling stories before jumping right into marriage talk. M seemed petrified. He was scared and it was something that I really had never seen before. I mean, I had talked to him while he was sick in Pakistan and he was upset, but never just petrified like this. He explained his whole story again to my dad and they compared stories of their own fathers.

It seemed that Z was trying to talk M into going ahead with the wedding and my father was just telling him that he had to do what made him happy. I listened over and over as M explained to both of them that he knew he was going to marry me. He explained that he had been ready to marry me even before his trip to Pakistan, but that now was not the right time. He explained that things were not right yet. I could see him getting frustrated and more and more nervous. I had to leave the room.

I walked into the bathroom and before I knew it I was sobbing. I was as silent as possible because I did not want anyone outside to hear me, but my mom had seen the look on my face as I walked into the bathroom. She walked in a few minutes after me and hugged me. For my mom, it was M's fault that I was crying. She knew the whole story and thought that he should be stronger, that he should be more firm and more ready. I defended him because it was all I could do. I had felt the fear oozing from his words and tones in the front room. I had held his hand the entire time he spoke to my dad and it was obvious to me that he just could not do it. After all this time, he still was not ready and in the bathroom staring at my tear-streaked red face in the mirror I knew it was over.

I took a deep breath and sent my mom back out into the front room. I washed my face with cold water and stared at myself in the mirror. I gave myself a pep talk to go back out and do what I knew I had to. I again was sure that this would be my last trip to see M and I was not even sure how I could do it. I pictured myself without him, ignoring his calls or not even getting any calls at all. I imagined myself having to explain why I was coming home alone and why I was no longer engaged. I imagined myself alone.

I walked back into the front room and took my seat again beside M. He was looking at me and the talk died down a bit before Z and my dad started discussing something I could not understand. M looked at me his eyes pleading for understanding, "You understand, right? We can do it next time. We can plan something bigger, we will do it later." I took a deep breath in.

"Everything is going to be all right," I said. He looked at me puzzled.

"We can do it next time?"

"Everything is going to be fine, you will be fine. Whether I am here or not, you are going to be fine. It is obvious that we are just not going to do this. We've talked about it too many times." I trailed off.

"I don't understand, we are going to do it, we just have to wait until the right time." he was continuing, but I wasn't really listening anymore. I had in my head what I had to say and I knew that unless I kept reminding myself, I wouldn't go through with it. I had, in fact, tried to get myself to do this before but was totally unable. M and I had even broken up once. We made it thirty minutes before we called each other back and apologized.

M saw something in my face and while I was turned around talking to my mother, he announced to my father, "We are getting married today."

Z and my dad were taken aback, my mom stopped talking. She looked at me and told me what he had said, and I did not at all believe it. I didn't want it. I had decided I was going home alone, and had as much as told M so, and I didn't want to get married as a last resort! I took M aside and told him that I didn't want him doing this because of pressure. I repeated over and over again, "You will be fine and so will I, we do not have to do this."

M was now oppositely certain of what we had to do. The day had begun with his inability to get married and ended with his inability not to.

I was still not convinced it was going to happen.