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Strange and unique marriage.

The picture selected symbolically resembling my part of life story.

A story of strange and unique marriage is narrated to have my timeline of life, completed. I was married in early January 1960, in a small and remote village of District Sialkot, Pakistan. I needed a picture to commemorate the occasion. Such a picture I did not have in my bag, because no such facility existed at those times, therefore a symbolic picture is picked up from the Google Panorama by a&a Nouri from Iran. I had always advocated in my circles that marriage ceremonies should be simple and was all along against the ill system of dowry. I had decided for myself that I will try to be an example to comply this, and shall marry without accepting the traditional gifts sent along the bride. This tradition is a cause of delays and great hardships for girls being married. Also lavish and unnecessary expense is incurred and these events if made undemanding and simpler can assuage those wastages.

In Punjab or for that matter throughout Pakistan, weddings cannot be conceived without, a big procession and the bridegroom along a big party, dancing, shouting and hired band of musicians, beating drums, blowing of melodious pipes. This marriage was without all that. No traditional garlands, no horse to ride, no procession with gilding and sparking clothes. The bridegroom reached to the house of would be in-laws one day earlier of the ceremony, an episode never seen before and in normal clothes. Only procession included a maternal uncle and the mother of bridegroom. My father-in-law was newly retired government servant from revenue department. His eldest daughter was married to a renowned and highly respected professor of local college. Such highly educated persons were very few in those remote areas. My father in-law enjoyed respect and pride being highly virtuous and a religious person. This was a difficult decision, their pride being in danger, but they accepted such proposal and showed considerable liberalism in that conservative and conformist culture of the Punjab. It was a cold evening of that winter, when this strange marriage took place; strange because, as told earlier was, unconventional and unusually simplest. Some notables of village were invited, who were clad in woolen shawls. Those wise old men exchanged curious looks as to why such a prominent and distinguished person is marrying his daughter without traditional pump and show. So a genuine reason and justification was explained by my maternal uncle who had already convinced would be in-laws to become an example, against the dowry system. All were sitting in groups smoking Huqqas, and exchanging views. A special servant was assigned to keep the Huqqa alive with fresh supplies. It was an assemblage who could witness and approve the occasion of such, but a strange marriage of the daughter of distinguished and a respected person among them I, the bridegroom, was twenty years boy, was wearing simple clothes, but an overcoat to protect from cold. I was sitting, without conventional garlands on a white sheet spread specially for the chief guest with a pillow; A petromax was arranged from somewhere to light up the drawing room, where we sat. A feeble smell of kerosene oil did not bother much, rather seems to be usual phenomena. After performance of Nikah, the crowd was served with tea and sweets prepared for this occasion. To my surprise everyone congratulated, and appreciated my radical views for being a volunteer for such a noble cause. By doing so, I had compromised this, over the cost of my many aspirations, ambitions, desires, wishes, and above all at the cost of the pride of my respectable, well reputed and well known family of the area. I sacrificed my longing which I kept secretly in my mind from the child hood, about how should I look like as, being a bridegroom ,about my dress, riding on a horse to fetch my life partner. I had visualized that at the time of my marriage, all of my friends; cousins would be making merry and join the graceful procession. But at that evening, I was alone in a strange ambiance. Nobody knew me except my maternal uncle and my mother, and a half sister, who were there. My real paternal uncle refused to accompany me because they wanted to keep their nose upright and their pride not being injured by participating in such an impudent mode of marriage. I was alone without cousins, only my maternal old uncle was there, with whom I could not have shared my sentiments. My

mother was in another yard full of women who gathered to attend a marriage, those have never witnessed before. When I was briefly called to their section, I was relieved a bit by some naughty remarks by the friends of my wife. Ne munda te theek ee nein. The elderly women showered their blessings. It looked I was accepted spontaneously by that group as a big applaud of laughter arose when I entered there. But to me a crowd of thoughts occupied my mind and a battalion of sentiments kept me bothered, but I stayed composed, and calm; overwhelmed by a rush of feelings, corners of my eyes did become wet, to which I concealed successfully. I was on a crossroad and on a turning point of my life and at the mercy of my destiny. We, the newlywed were unknown to each other and completely strangers, although my wife was from my distant and secluded relatives. Next first wedding morning we left the house early, and set out straight, for unknown trail, and path. We had to head to a place, completely outlandish for my wife in the company of a strange person to whom she had never met before. It was a cold morning, the sun was trying to overcome the early fog, but we have to leave, because of long distance ahead; the day became sunny and bright when scattered clouds gave way to the shivering morning sun. Main road from where we had to take a bus was only about half a kilometer. To our left hand in our way, there was a well; the bulls were pushing wheels, to draw water from the deep, with creaking sounds of the wooden sprockets. Water flashed clear and steaming due to colder temperature outside than the well. We passed by. A group of girls and women who gathered to bid us farewell followed us. The close friends of my wife were aggrieved and children playing and enjoying the gathering. According to traditions bride wore burqa, and was completely clad in a black cloak. She walked cautiously, but gracefully, with small steps, lest she might slip or be hindered by scattered stones in the way. That morning, she was leaving behind the feelings of protection, care, love, shelter, and her home where she was born and brought up, and which is a kind of sanctuary to every girl. She was leaving behind her aggrieved parents and younger brothers who had brought with her up to this age. She was leaving behind her primitive homemade toys, she told me later that how those toys were made and valued being handmade. Her first steps out of her house, under the shadow of Holy Book, gave a roar of grief, sorrow, laughter, and prayers all mixed together. My wife travelling first time with a person, her hand was given to a stranger. One could not find what was going on in her mind, and how she felt. She was leaving behind all the sweet memories, the scent and fragrance of flower of Berna trees and the specific agreeable smell of ripening rice fields. She left behind also, the peculiar distressing and stinking smell of the dust splashed by the feet of cattle. She is leaving behind the first chirpings of the birds on the Jaman tree in her yard; leave their nests early morning as we did.

I myself felt alike, when I first left my native village, in Sept, 1956, to find a place from where bread and butter can be earned. I missed my kindest, protector and loving grandparents, those who brought me up, and pushed me to seek a job. I missed my chums, friends, playmates; cousins, streets, corners, shops, Lassora Tree in my yard, the stairs, the roof of my house, loving neighbors and elders. I remember every detail of the chirping flocks of sparrows on trees, and the cattle coming home in the evening ringing bells in their necks. This has been an established tradition in villages of Punjab that girls gather together for spinning of homemade threads for making bed sheets and the like for their dowries. They all meet in the house of friend whose turn was declared and spend whole night spinning with a competitive vigor, joking, giggle and making merry. Now my wife was leaving behind all those pleasurable and gratifying moments, never to attend such rendezvous again. The spinning is done on primitive wooden wheels, called Charkha. In Punjab literature charkha is well mentioned and some sad songs are related by folk poets.( Sun charkhi di mithi mithi koohk, mahi minoon yad awandan.. Miri dil whichoon uthdi a hook mahi minoon yad awnda). Sung by Nusrat Fteh Ali, and young sikh singer Harshdeep This particular occasion is called Tarinjin, in Punjab few poets also have written on it. Like. Nit nit vagde rahn ge pani, Nit patan te mela, Bachpan nit jawani bansi, Te nit katan da mela, Par jo pani aj patano langda, Oh pher na aonda bhalke, Beri da poor Trianjan dian koorian, Pher na bethan ral ke. Translation. Every day, Water flows through the streams .And so also the meetings on the ford every day. Childhood had passed and turned to adolescent. So every day there is a gathering for spinning. The water which flows in the streams will never return. Like passengers of the boat and the folk of spinning girls, Shall never meet again. . She is leaving behind all that she owned, the times spent with parents and friends, the company of early primary school girls grown along with her, and travelling to unknown destination. Since a woman's sentiments are deftly woven into her home and with very near relatives. To my astonishment, she successfully concealed her feelings, but with gush of occasional tears. Our sitting together on the seat of bus gave us warmth and comfort. Soon she settled and started taking interest in the travel we affianced. She, be hoping and visualizing good times and a good future ahead. And of course she might be occupied, thinking, how would be the

unexplored, unseen new world, comparatively, glamorous than a village. She relied simply on the selection of her parents, and the parents also did not know me well, but somehow they trusted me. Later I was told that a good repute and the background of my family had reached to their ears. We went to Rawalpindi, a 300 kilometer far place. Transport to Rawalpindi was scanty. Only three buses, from Sialkot plied then, at 0600, at 1000 and at 1400 hrs. The travel time was eight hours, as against only four hours these days. We reached Rawalpindi in the late evening and then to our new residence at Wah Cantt. My wife did not show much of fear or apprehension, and we started a life, like the photograph chosen symbolically. This photograph is showing two persons steering a boat, which could drift to any region at its will. Fortunately my wife proved to be a very contented and pious woman, generous and a good and kind host to my relatives who usually visited us. My two half brothers and brother in-law remained with me till they completed their education, but my wife never grumbled or showed any irritation or exasperation and we enjoyed life in all the circumstances. We did not have good provisions or fashionable clothing, yet we were happy. I kept on going on my own way and availing my fad or hobbies, without much disruption from my wife, except once, I remember, when she protested, I paid a cost equal to about one third of my pay for books and journals. I admit, I could have never got a university education without the complete support and backing, as she stood by me, through thick and thin, in every circumstance. She compromised on the ease, comfort and facilities, which she enjoyed at her leased house, at Wah Cantt, compared to a far off village without electric power, where she had to move. By now we were parents of four children. So our symbolic boat landed on a green and beautiful Island, where our obedient sons, loving daughters, beautiful grand children, and great grandchildren, all awaited to celebrate our arrival, and to unite us again and a courtship refreshed. Thanks to almighty God, who destined us comfortably so far therefore, my selection of this photo seems to be pertinent and signifies my circumstances. The pair, steering the boat is heading to regions of unknown waters, may be deep, shallow or troubled. In this photograph, few people are standing at the beach watch them leave. A striking Similarity exists, when, next wedding fine morning, we left the house. I have told earlier that many young girls and women came out of the village to bid us farewell. Those who gathered kept standing unless our bus went out of their sight. Now when I look back at this age of seventy three, I wish I could have someone at that time, to catch those moments of remarkable event, through a photograph, nevertheless our courtship and marriage is refreshed on the timeline of life. Engr. Manzoor Hussain Hasrat. Wah Cantt. Pakistan. 6th Feb, 2012.