By Sonya Rehman
Farzana Parveen married for love.
She let love spring forth in her bosom, its vines propelling her forward, in courage and in hope for a better, more meaningful life. A baby, made with the man she loved, was fast taking shape in her womb. The seed of their love. Life within, life in abundance. Man. Woman. Child-to-be.
But love, LOVE! She brought dishonor and disrespect to our family, they bellowed.
And so they set about to correct what had been done. Like she was a piece of land that had been taken over by thugs. But Farzana had violated a cardinal, misogynistic rule: to love another of your own choice. To choose. To choose for yourself. To be an individual – living life on your own terms. Not one with the herd. Farzana broke the rule. She let her heart do the choosing. Because the heart always knows best. The heart, that gorgeous master, is an intuitive organ that guides the human spirit. Never incorrect in judgment.
How could she, how could she, they said. LOVE. Vile act, vile woman. Disobedience. Shame. Disgrace.
They were a large group of men. Led by her father, her brothers and other male relatives. Like a pack of wolves, teeth-baring, possessed, not human. In that moment, as they grabbed Farzana, swinging bricks at her, their humanity left them. Their warm human-ness slunk away in terror, unable to recognize the shells of beings butchering one of their own, one of their own kind.
Father, son, brother, friend, lover, you came from your mother’s womb. From the dark, magical gap – that passageway that connects dreams to reality. Did you forget, did you forget where you came from? Men from wombs, suckling, helpless babies. How, when and why did you forget so easily?
But in Pakistan, the poor murder. Yet the rich, the privileged, lie.
“Oh, it wasn’t a love marriage,” they state, the rich. As if love is porn. A filthy, maggot-puss-filled word. A dirty word. Love. “It was an arranged marriage,” they emphasize.
Society is skewed. We are hypocrites in love. And the hypocrisy stems from fear, then apathy, then detachment.
Farzana, your family failed you. But more than that, we as a nation have failed you. We stood by and watched, under the sun of May. We watched your loved ones crush your bones, your spirit. Like we were sitting in our living rooms, watching a television show, separated, disconnected. Bystanders. Apathetic bystanders. Frothing dully at the mouth.
Outside the court of law. Ironic. We let them break you. Your flesh tore into roses on the street of pain. We continued to watch them, you. You tried to break free, faltering, but there were too many wolves. Hungry wolves. The collective energy, the blood lust was dizzying; it rose up from the earth and swarmed your head, hell-bent on bringing you to your knees. And they brought you to your knees. We did.
Daughter, wife, friend, lover, mother-to-be, we took you. We all took you.