D’s Dilemma III
D went back to London three days after the meeting with his parents. I had calmed him down quite a bit and although he didn’t talk much with his parents for the rest of his stay, he felt that he has a grip on the situation and that things would eventually work out. He would go back and write the letter and things would be sorted out.
He spent the first two weeks in London moving to a new apartment that was closer to work, and more comfortable. He could afford to move up just a little. He was so caught-up in the moving process that it took him about a month to get around to writing to his father. He wrote him a 27-page email where he poured his heart out and laid it all out in the open. It was the most forthcoming he had ever been with his father. He called me up to tell me he sent the email and that he had high hopes of things working out just fine. I agreed with him and was happy that he was so thorough with his email. I was back in Peshawar by this time, it was August, and my final year exam was breathing down my neck. He promised to keep in touch.
D called me about two weeks later. I eagerly answered the call although I was extremely busy with the books by then. I was certain of good news.
D’s father replied to his enormous email after about a week. D’s father derided his email, calling it a long thesis that presumed to lecture him and try to explain something he understood himself perfectly. He knew that D had done something very stupid, that D was extremely callous towards his family, that D didn’t care about anyone except himself and W. Well, if you wanted to marry W, he was more than welcome to but he would no longer be a son of mine, his father wrote. He said he was really surprised that D turned out to have such a ‘character’ and never imagined he could be so foolish as to let a girl entrap him in such a way. W was after his money, his career, his family home back in Islamabad. W was manipulating you, was turning you against your family, was making you hate your parents, and on and on the rhetoric went. Every possible argument that D had preemptively defended in his email was completely ignored. Whatever arguments D’s father put forth were completely unreasonable. Case in point: “W has a genetic disorder that will cause her to have malformed children.” (The genetic disorder was achondroplasia, the gene for which you either have or don’t have. There are no carriers, as D’s father was suggesting W was). I assured D that there was no way W could be a carrier for achondroplasia unless she herself had the disease (and that would be manifestly obvious as W would be a 4 foot tall dwarf.) And of course, W was ugly, her teeth were too big, she was too dark, or short, or something else. These statements were thrown in for free.
This email finally brought home to D that fact the he was now fighting for his right to choose and marry a perfectly good, compatible partner with his parent’s blessings. He asked me what he was going to do now, and I couldn’t come up with an answer. I didn’t know how to advise him. Listen to you parents? They know what’s best for you? No. The truth is, parents make mistakes as well, and as decent, intelligent and level-headed as D was, capable of choosing a good partner for himself, his parents were making the colossal mistake of standing in the way for no good reason. Parent’s don’t
always know best. Maybe they do when you’re 10 years old and think that playing with dynamite might be a fun way to spend the weekend, but not when you’re 25, gainfully employed and mature enough to think for yourself.
I just comforted him, not really able to think of a way out of his dilemma. I told him not to give up and to make his stand. I reminded him of my own nightmare of a battle to get my parents to agree to my own fiancé. It wasn’t easy at all, and although they were not as vehemently opposed to the notion as D’s parents were, it still took nine months to bring them around. I told him his story would have a good ending like mine did. My parents love my fiancé now and think I made a good choice, but in the beginning, I was faced literally with a ‘choose-us-or-the-girl’ type of an attitude. I told D that whatever happened and however bad the rhetoric from his father got, to never go on the offensive. I told him that however unapparent it seems now, his parents still loved him and wanted to see him happy. He would have to change their minds, but he’d have to be the bigger man here and not hit back with equally poisonous rhetoric. Otherwise, you’d have two parties just trying to beat each other into submission. That kind of compromise never lasts.
In next few weeks more emails were exchanged between D and his father. D mostly kept his cool and appealed emotionally to his father to start thinking logically and dispassionately about the issue at hand, but the response was always peremptory and rude.
Ominously enough, D’s father started asking for W’s phone number so he could call her up himself and talk to her. Not trusting his father with what he might say to her, D steered clear of giving him the number. Throughout all of this, W remained mostly unaware of the magnitude of the problem that was emerging between D and his parents. D had told her that his parents weren’t too crazy about the idea because they thought that he was too young to get engaged. He said he was sure he’d be able to turn them around soon. He didn’t tell her the whole picture because he didn’t want her to worry. She trusted him and was willing to wait for a few more months before the ball got rolling.
I heard again from him some one and a half months later, when my papers had finished and I had only the vivas left. We don’t talk that much when he’s away because we’re both so busy with our respective lives. We made do with enormously long phone calls every month or so. He called me while I was frantically making arrangements to practice OSCE examinations for my vivas. It was a depressing Sunday in Peshawar and I had a lot of work to do. He called me at about 5pm and we talked for two hours. I was pacing outside the doctor’s hostel glad to hear his voice again after so long.
“Everything’s fucked up man, everything!” he said on the phone. “My dad got W’s number from somewhere and called her. Everything’s fucked up. It’s over.”