Inability to Say No

By Narges Qorbani

I woke up to the sound of our neighbor’s parrots. It was about seven o’clock in the morning. I remember that it was my turn to do the housework. I told myself I had to go early and start doing housework. I always slept in the room in the second floor. Which is why I went down the stairs.

Sweeping the rooms and hall had just finished when guests came. I didn’t know them at all. It was the first time I saw them. I had a shirt and pants on. I went up the stairs again, wondering who they were and what they came for. I came down again.

Everyone looked at me carefully. They looked at me like people who came to buy something. I got a little worried and thought for a moment. My mother said, ‘Why are you looking? Go bring tea for the guests. I went to get tea, without saying anything and asking the questions I had in mind. Then they were silent for a few minutes and then pointed towards me with a smile. And they said to my mother, “We welcome this daughter of yours and we will propose your daughter for our son.” I was shocked and didn’t say anything.

I am the third sister and I am not more than 15 years old. That’s why those women chose me.

One of my friends who was one year younger than me, got married. She said that our relatives do not choose a girl who has grown up for marriage. And they are looking for a young girl. That’s why my parents said that if you reject your suitor, you will stay at home and no one will be found to marry you. I was silent.

My mother said, “My daughter was too young for marriage. We do not give our daughter to the husband at a young age.” They laughed, saying the girl should be given to the husband at a young age. “Little by little she learns the way of common living,” they saidEven hearing their words was hard for me. It was like a terrible dream that I wanted to wake up early.

The guests finally stood up and said goodbye. They said, “We will go and come back tomorrow.”Since my father was in Iran, they wanted to ask my father’s permission. The next day they came again. I told my mother the first time that I didn’t want to get married. They then sat down and started talking, insisting that we accept their request. My mother said my daughter is not happy with this marriage. My mother was married at a very young age of 13 years old and suffered a lot of hardships both mentally and physically. She did not like us to get married at a young age. My father also agreed with her. And our consent for marriage was always important to them. One woman said that her little girl was not satisfied either. “We forcibly gave her husband,” she said

By their words, I wanted to get them out of the house. But I knew that in Afghanistan it was rude for girls to interfere with marriage. I controlled myself. It didn’t matter for them to talk about their son. Because they didn’t listen to the girls’ opinions. And it made me angry. I told myself that I would never forgive such a mother and father who ignore their daughter’s opinions. I was quiet until they left our house. As soon as they left, I cried, thinking of the little girl of the unknown woman and the pain she had endured.

24 October, 2023