D’s Dilemma IV
D never told W everything his parents had been saying. She didn’t know how hostile they were to her. So it came as an immense shock when D’s father got her number (we still don’t know how he got it) and told her quite bluntly that it was never going to happen. I can’t imagine what she must have gone through on receiving the phone call, but she called D up and told him and soon after he called me.
Naturally, he was upset – to put it mildly. He expressed immense anger at his father for what he had done. He had hurt someone he loved deeply. It also became apparent to him that even if he eventually managed to bring his parents around, a line had now been crossed. Things had been said that couldn’t be unsaid. The relationship between W and D’s parents was poisoned right from the start. How could they ever put something like this behind them?
I really didn’t know what to say to D. What advise can anyone give that would make this mess better? I just comforted him clumsily. I wanted to remind him of the hurdles I had to overcome in my own journey, but truth be told, things were never this bad for me. It really did seem as if this thing wasn’t going to work out. D’s father wasn’t trying to convince his son to drop the idea of marrying W anymore - D’s father was out to sabotage the matter to the point of it being unsalvageable.
I talked to D on the phone for two hours, trying my best to make him feel better. I told him again not to go on the offensive – that such an approach would accomplish nothing. He agreed with me, but now he started talking about other things as well. He said that he’d keep trying with his parents, but if this thing really did fall apart, then he’s start whoring around with girls, start drinking, start doing drugs, maybe. He said what’s the point of living decently and sensibly when your own parents are the reason you are so unhappy. Why try to become a better person? To what point and purpose? Why not just let it all go and become a hedonist? There are ways to dull your pain.
To be perfectly honest, I understood where he was coming from. I myself had many dark moments in my own struggle to get my parents to agree to my fiancé, and there were times when I didn’t think things would ever work out. I thought if that did happen, I’d just quit medicine and go live in a city where no one knew me, and scratch out a living for myself doing something. Why bother trying to follow The Plan when you don’t have the person you love there to share it with you? If that person died in a car crash, then you could say it was a tragedy. You’d put it down to fate and move on, trying to rebuild your life. But when the person you love is taken away from you because of your parents’ pertinacious resistance? How can you cope with that? Who do you turn to for help? Your parents? No! They’re the reason your in this mess in the first place! I was thinking along very similar lines myself and although I sympathized, I didn’t say so. I just told him not to be silly, that he has a long life ahead of him and many other tragedies were bound to happen. If
this thing didn’t work out, it was no reason to give up on a happy life. You can’t just throw in the towel when something really bad happens to you. People go through life with all sorts of things happening to them. They get cancer. Their children die. They lose a limb. They’re put in jail for something they didn’t do. What would it say about the strength of your character if you just gave up on yourself?
My words, although somewhat hypocritical, got through to him. He calmed down and stopped thinking such drastic thoughts. I told him not to give up. The choice of your life partner is just too important to leave up to the capriciousness of a parent’s outdated traditional notion of how such things work. I told him to keep fighting for his right to marry of his own choice. However he would tell W everything now and let her share in this burden. She would also have to make up her own mind over what she wanted to do. He was still upset after our two-hour talk, but then again, there are somethings that can’t be fixed by the best of advice and intentions.
D’s father never acknowledged that the phone call had been made. D and his father didn’t mail each other any more after that. D’s father’s health was not very good. He had gallstones that were troubling him and needed to go for surgery soon. D believed that his father deliberately timed the phone call right before his surgery, so that any further discussion about W would seem selfish and trivial in context to his father’s imminent operation. D was thus forced to sound supportive and caring when talking to his father thereafter on the phone.
D and I had this conversation in late September, when all my exams had finished and just the vivas were left. D’s father’s operation was scheduled for the 5th of October, and D said that it would be at least two weeks after the surgery before he could even consider broaching the subject of W again. He was furious about this because he was convinced that the timing of the phone call to W was deliberate.
On the 4th of October, my final year exams finished.
On the 5th of October, D’s father had the surgery. It was successful and there were no complications.
On the 7th of October, I returned to Islamabad, finally done with med school in Peshawar.
On The 8th of October, a massive earthquake hit Pakistan.
On the 13th of October, D flew into Islamabad on emergency leave from his job.
He had to visit his hometown - Muzafferabad.