A whirlwind romance leads to marriage, but dies on the wedding night
It was a terrible night. For all his claims a few moments before, he would not even wait till the morning. He did not even try to solve this issue in their small marital world. In the same situation, in the middle of the night, while undressed and on the bed, he called his sisters and shouted, “What have you chosen for me? She has been used. Find a doctor right at this moment, or I’ll go crazy.” Then Roya was severely beaten. In less than an hour, her husband’s family gathered. Perhaps only a woman will understand how heavy a mental burden such a situation brings. A crowd came from outside the room saying, “There was no love, nothing, the girl is impure and she has deceived us.”
She was at the top of her class – we studied journalism together. She had a strange skill in writing. The more she read books, the more her thirst to read and understand grew. She did not interact with just anyone. Maybe one of the reasons was that she grew up in a family where there was no closeness between the members. Roya had grown up fighting in the heart of a traditional and discriminatory environment for a girl. She struggled for all those goals that she wrote down in the corner of page twenty-four of her Sociological Theory textbook. However, according to her, she was suspended between traditions and the world of dreams and those beautiful things that only existed in books.
Roya (not her real name) was the last child of elderly parents. The age difference between her and her 12 siblings resulted in no one having the time to give her love, be patient, and accept her and her being a girl and all the turmoil of her youth. When we talk of acceptance that she is a girl, we mean having an equal view of the child regardless of gender.
The story goes back to a few years ago when we were just returning from a trip to Herat. I was worried. She was very silent. She was always in a strange mood. She did not normally spend her time stuck to her mobile phone. She had turned her gaze away to face the window of the car. Only the night before she had written in her notebook: “There is something in a person’s heart that only God knows.” Our house was along the way. My mother came to greet us. She loved Roya a lot, even more than me, to an extent that even made me jealous sometimes. She broke down in my mother’s arms. Roya had fallen in love. Love for Hamid (not his real name), who was one of our university classmates, had changed her. The hard-working girl was crying with lovesickness. She was in love and did not know what to do.
One day she reached a decision, and said that she would propose. We were all surprised. “Are you seriously going to propose to that boy?” asked one of the girls in the class. “I love him, and I have the courage,” she said. She shared the issue with her family. Her father kicked her out of the house and Roya stayed at her sister’s house for a while. Roya’s love story circulated among her relatives. No one supported her decision, because that was not the social custom. She was a girl and she had to sit at home until her hair turned white like her teeth waiting for someone to knocked on the door, like her and choose her as his wife. That’s it… despite all the opposition, she proposed, but he refused. She proposed again but was rejected. The third time, Hamid texted her that his sister would see her. Strange days passed for Roya, full of turmoil, full of excitement. After that meeting, it was agreed that Hamid and his family would propose to Roya. There were various opinions in Roya’s family. An extremely traditional environment with old ideas of parents and siblings. According to her, perhaps a surfeit of financial problems in their lives had led no one understanding the heart of another. Preparations were made and Roya and Hamid were engaged.
Roya was going through dreamy days. It was so sweet for her that sometimes she did not understand the taste of sarcasm and irony. Hamid often joked, “You are after me because you had no other suitors.” Roya would remain silent for a moment, but would decide not to spoil the happiness of engagement by cultivating negative words. At home, she was told to get married sooner so that there would one less mouth to feed. Roya was honestly talking about these things with Hamid, but she did not know that in the not-too-distant future, these words would be a blow to herself and her romance.
Everything went according to the traditions and customs of the families. Although Roya did not like this practice, she respected the wishes of the families. On the wedding night, she danced charmingly in her beautiful white dress as if those were the last moments of her life. I remember it was night and the last days of August and the cold autumn wind came to greet me earlier. It was the wedding night, and after the wedding party was over, some relatives gathered on the ground floor of the house, which was her mother-in-law’s room, leaving the bride and groom alone. She spent some time flirting and talking. “I also fell in love,” Hamid said and danced in the bedroom with the same white shirt and whispered a song under his breath until normal issues and an unusual reaction disrupted almost everything. There was no blood spotted on the night of Roya and Hamid’s intercourse. Although the concept of virginity has for long been discarded in medicine, the idea prevails in custom and often, it is violent intercourse that causes bleeding, but even in the traditional strata of society, there are men with higher education and scientific and humanities degrees who relate a woman’s chastity to a drop of blood from a torn hymen.
It was a terrible night. For all his claims a few moments ago, he did not even wait for morning. He did not even try to solve this issue in their fledgling marital world. In the same situation, in the middle of the night, while undressed and on the bed, he called his sisters and shouted, “What have you chosen for me? She has been used. Find a doctor right at this moment, or I’ll go crazy.” Then Roya was severely beaten. In less than an hour, her husband’s family gathered. Perhaps only a woman will understand what a heavy mental burden such a situation brings. A crowd came from outside the room saying, “There was no love, nothing, the girl is impure and she has deceived us.”
Judgments continued, and every word was an arrow piercing Roya’s heart. What was he thinking? What happened? Everyone who came threatened her. It was as if a curtain had fallen in front of Hamid’s eyes and ears that he could neither hear nor see, and only shouted, “You are not a chaste girl, you are disgraceful. Your family is also onto this because your parents did not say anything. I will show you! I will not let this go.” It was not yet dawn but he insisted on finding a doctor to have her examined.
Roya’s sisters also came. Groups of people came together to challenge her chastity with an examination that has no modern scientific basis. The doctor did not examine, and said that a court order would be first required. They went to the police and the police stated, without any decency, that “she should be examined in the presence of a representative of the police.”
“Her hymen is elastic, which is why there was naturally no blood,” the doctor said after the examination. Hamid kicked the doctor’s office open and said, “I am an educated person, there must be bleeding. Why are you taking her side?” The doctor pulled Hamid out of his room. Roya was crying. Her sisters took her to their father’s house. Instead of understanding the situation and supporting her in the face of all the insults that had been inflicted in the previous hours, her parents said, “The girl who left the house is gone. We do not want an extra mouth to feed.” They immediately called Hamid and said: “Whatever the situation is, Roya is now yours to handle. Come and take what is yours from our house.”
The marriage broke down, the financial records were settled, the gold gifts returned to the groom’s family, and Roya was severely isolated in a world of shattered dreams. She stayed at her father’s house and the madness by which she was referred to as “second hand” at home drove her crazy. This topper in journalism dropped out of school. She set fire to all the books she had read. “In this journey, neither love, nor philosophy, nor history, nor sociology came in handy,” she said. To her, so different from everyone else, this was a strange shock. Her body seemed to be alive, while her soul was in a coma.
It took her more than a year to rise from those ashes, travel, and work in one of the provinces. At the same time, she resumed her studies. In the provinces, she volunteered to teach children and worked on women’s health awareness campaigns. It was as if she wanted to bring peace to herself so that the unhealed wound in her heart would heal. She came back to life, wrote and read extensively, worked ceaselessly, and recently left Afghanistan to continue her higher education.
The last message she sent was: “A phoenix must be born from its ashes, even if the whole world has turned its back on you when you believe you are on the right path.”