An irreversible fall

Eloping and marrying against the wishes of the parents is on the rise in the conservative Kashmir but many such couples live a miserable life afterwards. Shafath Hussain reports

The first time they met was in the classroom. At just fifteen Riyaz was infatuated with a girl who had joined the school and was admitted in his class.
Riyaz found himself getting attracted to the girl but could not muster the courage to talk his heart out. However, the girl, Mehbooba found him to be the brightest student in the class. Soon they developed a bonding. For next two years they would meet and talk during lunch breaks exchanging notebooks with, occasionally, “love” written on the back page.

They continued, though less frequently, to see each other when they joined different schools in the town. They continued to exchange emotional letters and Eid greeting cards. “Eid cards were the most praiseworthy gifts given and there were no special occasions like Valentine Day,” says Riyaz.

When Riyaz’s father learnt about the affair, he was annoyed as the girl was from a different caste. He announced to marry Riyaz to a cousin. Riyaz tried to convince his parents that he wanted to marry Mahbooba but they were adamant.

Seeing his parents’ severe opposition to their relationship, they chose to get married against the wishes of their families. They married in a court.
For next few years they lived a miserable life. “We rented a small room and in the next few years had three children,” says Mehbooba. “Later Riyaz got a job as a government school teacher.”

The families still kept their distance from them. However, when Riyaz met with a serious accident, his father forgot everything and came visiting his son. “It was so severe that my father forgot the enmity between us and everybody prayed for my recovery,” recollects Riyaz. His father took him home and they started living happily.

Today Riyaz’s wife and children and his parents area happy family. “I even refrain from thinking about this caste system,” says Riyaz’s father. Mehbooba teaches in private school now and contributes to the family income.

Though love marriages and marrying aginst the wishes of parents is rising in Kashmir, most of the love affairs don’t have a happy end.

Hilal, a taxi driver, was engaged to a girl chosen by his parents but his heart lied somewhere else. He loved a girl who belonged to a rich and affluent family. “I loved her so much that it was impossible to live without seeing her,” says Imran. He saved some money and was planning to marry her secretly. But, by then, the girl’s parents had barred her even from moving outside the house. “She would seldom come out. I sent her many mobile phones which were caught (by her parents) and Rifat would be beaten to pulp,” says imran. The two had met at a marriage ceremony three years back. “I have been driven to her every moment since then,” he says.

They fled from their homes. And their problems began. The girl’s father was against their love affair from the very beginning. The pair could find a refuge anywhere and returned to get married in a court. The girl’s parents had already reached there and they took the girl into their custody. It has been months and Imran has not seen her since then. He pledges that he will never marry now.

In a small village in Bandipora, Zakir ran a cosmetic shop. He met Rifat at the shop. She lived in an adjoining village. They fell for each other and decided to marry. But Zakir’s parents refused as they had chosen another girl for him. The opposition was stronger for the girl belonged to other caste. As parental pressure mounted, Zakir gave into the wishes of his parents and married the girl of their choice. He tried to forget her and was living happily with his wife and parents until one day he again encountered his beloved. She had not married.

They married and he brought her home. The news was a shock to his mother who suffered heart attack and died after a few months. Zakirs former wife did not leave him and chose to stay. The relation had a dramatic turn as Rifat did not bear any children. She adopted one of her husband’s son’s from his first wife. The family of a husband and two wives are living happily.

= Experts say that the reason for unsuccessful love marriages is the portrayal of false image. “In an affair you try to portray a self which you are not actually and you cannot hide for long and eventually lose the trust of your beloved,” say sociologists.

Zahida made the biggest mistake of her life when she fell in love with her neighbour. Her parents who were against it, gave into their daughter’s persistent pleading. They were engaged and the two families decided to solemnize the marriage after a few. But the boy turned out to be very possessive.
Every time Zahida went out, he would accuse her of talking to other boys, says one of the girl’s neighbours. The boy would often come to her house and complain her parents, beat her and threaten her, he added.

After such a behavior of her fianc?e, she would remain depressed. And one day, she committed suicide by self-immolation.

(Names have been changed)


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