“But he’s never been married,” was something I heard often when I told people about Moayyed. It was blurted out, said pointedly, sometimes unintentional and sometimes very intentional.
I had become immune to it because being with him meant that it didn’t matter.
Remember your far-fetched wishes?
Yaar, bus Pakistan saare matches jeet jaye, India saare matches har jaye tou hum jeet jayein gay, Please Allah, all planets align with the north star on February 31st, Usman Buzdar grows a tongue and Aamir Liaqat loses his…
Imagine all this and you’d still have very little idea of what needed to happen for Moayyed Jafri and Amnah Shah to get hitched.
There is no greater love, nothing at all, than the love for your children. I should know. I have three of them.
One girl and two boys.
14, 13, 10.
My heart beats three times, my day complete, after I see three smiles and as I slip into tired slumber, I give thanks three times.
Four times now, because I had three children before I met Moayyed.
“Baba, how come people in natural disaster movies dodge every deadly accident while everyone around them is dying, ” I remember asking my father as a child.
“Stories are biographies of survivors. All of nature’s forces combined with relentless will, create survivors and that’s what a miracle actually is”, he used to say.
Moayyed hit pause. He stepped back and took leave from his own life’s desires to help his family after his father passed away. I didn’t have to take leave from my life like he did but I did give mine up for my children. I never, ever regretted it. No mother ever can. I didn’t wish or want for anything except for my three and life didn’t pass me by. But when I met him, life hit pause, as if allowing him a moment to hit play and catch up with me.
“I love life,” I would claim, hopefully optimistic in what people assumed was a difficult life.
“It’s alright,” would be his somewhat cynically said response.
We were ying and yang, opposites, in every way. Ours was a love of heart and mind, a fusion of the cultures of the edgy northern mountains and the grounded central plains. We came together like gratefulness does. A loss leading into happiness.
But reaching that level of certainty, that there was no running away from this, was only half the battle. We were well aware that although it is the year 2020, we live in Pakistan and come from relatively conservative families.
It took two years for him to tell his family after which I broke the news to mine.
The hardest part of finding love elsewhere is telling your children that someone else is about to be just as important as them.
You know the song you listen to when you’re in love? My children have always been that song for me. On repeat, they have lifted me up, cradled me, comforted me. My children are my strength, not just partners in my dreams, but advocates for my right at a shot at happiness.
I was so scared to tell them.
There is nothing bigger in life than acceptance. Being accepted for who you are and what you want. Surviving life’s big tests and being apprehensive to start new ones. There is nothing bigger than knowing no matter what you choose, the people that love you will stand by you – as long as you are happy.
My young, small children approved. Overwhelmed and teary-eyed I hugged them. It wasn’t just their approval, it was something bigger. It was all doubts shattered by that moment, all uncertainties that typical societal mouthpieces had thrown at me.
Akeli Maa aur teen bache, is shehr mai kaise reh sakte hai?
It was a feeling which words fall pathetically short of expression to describe.
Surviving what life throws at you is nothing short of a miracle. When Moayyed and I first met, it wasn’t love at first sight. We were both too good at surviving for it to be so simple. It was intrigue, a simple mysterious desire to know each other. It was quiet at first, as we looked, talked, smiled, letting each other in, layer by layer, like to love.
We were survivors, ready for a miracle.
Marrying Moayyed is probably one of the easiest things I have done in my life. Not because it’s love, but because we are easy. We were transparent in what we wanted, truthful and pragmatic. Our marriage is a triumph, not only of love but of hope over dejection. A defiance of stereotypes and a challenge to the toxic standards of normalcy.
Hai dekho, teen bachey hain aur kunware larke se shaadi.
Is larke kay parents kaise maan gaye?
Apne bachon ka nahi socha?
Society is ruthless but we don’t need to be. These words bounce off from us – my children, myself and Moayyed. People can say what they like and they will. But having the courage to ignore them and do what you know is right – surviving – that is the real miracle.