My best friend met a girl about a year and a half ago. He was working in London, and she was studying there and they shared a common group of friends. They'd hang out together, she was a friend of her sister, so over time they got to know each other a little better.
He came to Pakistan for a visit a few months after the two had met, and told me that he had found the girl he was going to marry. I was really happy for him. He is a sensible, very intelligent, good-hearted guy and I was sure he had chosen a really nice girl. He had 'proposed' to her, in that he said that he'd like to marry her when the time was right, and she had said 'yes'. Of course, things are never so simple in Pakistani culture, even if it's in merry old England. Parents had to be enlisted to work through the necessary formalities, but my friend (let's call him D) didn't think there would be any problems at all.
He was rising up the ranks in his field and at the time was in a hand-to-mouth, two-jobs situation. He wanted to rise a few rungs up the ladder where he'd be in a better position to get married. She was studying at the time, so it was agreed that they'd wait for about 6 months for both of them to get somewhere in their respective lives.
After she finished her degree, she came back home to Islamabad, where her home is. She tried to get a job in London, but the problems of getting a work permit made that impossible. So for a while, he was there and she was here, and they faithfully continued a long distance relationship. I took the opportunity to take her out to dinner to see what she was like. After all, she was going to marry my best friend. She needed my seal of approval. I was happy to find her a modest, intelligent, self-deprecating woman. She had a good job here in Islamabad and worked hard. She was not snobbish or spoilt like many Islamabadi girls I've known. I was happy for D.
More months pass and D finally lands an excellent, long-term high-paying job in London. He's finally set and is thinking of approaching his parents soon. He flew over to Islamabad to attend to his sister's wedding. His sister also lived in worked in England and had come to get married before flying back to England again. D took out a loan to contribute to his sister's wedding. In the mean time, the girl, let's call her W attends the pre-marriage ceremonies and festive atmosphere of the house. She's D's sister's friend also, and she lives here in Islamabad, so it was only natural for her to attend. During this time, D's sister drops a few hints about W's good character and asked her mother if she doesn't think W is a nice girl. Their mother gets a little suspicious and asked if 'something is going on'. Thinking that it would be best for D himself to tell their mother about W, the sister denies that there is any involvement between D and W.
However, those few comments opened the door and D's mother grew a little suspicious and asked him if there was anything going on with him and W. He immediately admitted that there was. He didn't want to bring up the issue now, in the middle of his sister's wedding, but it had come out by itself. D's mother got hysterical and insisted that he had done a terrible thing and that he had broken her heart. D was taken aback by this outburst, but thought it was due in part to the emotional nature of all those mothers who only have one son. He was sure his father, who was a Canadian-educated PhD, would be perfectly alright with his decision. He told me that he was confident that now that the matter was out in the open, although the timing was not perfect, he could expect to settle this issue pretty soon towards an engagement.
The wedding took priority however, and after that initial outburst, no one talked about it for a couple of days. When the wedding was finally over, D got ready for a nice, long sensible talk with his father. I was glad things were going to be settled soon and was happy for him.
Sure enough two nights after the walima
, D's father called a 'meeting', which included not only D, but his newly married sister (who had come back to Islamabad after the rukhsati
to fly back to England with her husband, who was also settled there), his mother and the rest of the siblings in the house.
The next evening, D comes to my house and picks me up. Most of our time together has been spent talking in his car as we drove around aimlessly through leafy Islamabad. I hop in and we drive off to F-10, our favorite haunt. On the way, he tells me about the meeting. He looks like he's being crying a lot, and sure enough as he tells me what happened, his voice cracks many times.