My life My Story
By Amira Raja
Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Amira Raja, I am 29 years old and the youngest of 3 sisters. This is my life my story that I feel the need to share as situations like mine are extremely common in UK Pakistani families.
When I was 15 years old my parents took me and my two older sisters to Pakistan for a holiday, I was extremely excited as it was my first trip abroad. I packed my little suitcase and wore my £1 sunglasses even though it was raining at Heathrow airport, I imagined Pakistan to be a sunny hot country with cows and sheep walking in the streets just as the people would.
When we arrived in Pakistan it was just as I imagined apart from the cows and sheep, it was beautiful and I felt at home straight away.
The house we stayed at was my grandparents’ house, my grandparents were so happy to see us that they decorated the house with balloons, tinsel and other beautiful colourful decorations. We could not have been happier! We were fed the most delicious food like biryani and samosas; everything was going very well until my mother came in our room just before bedtime. She told me and my two sisters that the reason we came to Pakistan was to get married! My two sisters that were 17 and 19 at the time were shocked and that’s when we realised all the decorations and nice food were actually preparations for our weddings! I was only 15 years old at the time and my mother told us all that it was very important to marry young so that we would avoid sinning in the future, the three boys we were going to marry were our cousins. We were very young and we obeyed our mother as we had no option.
The weddings took place over the course of 2 weeks and our parents told us it was completely normal and everything was going to be fine. After the marriage me and my family came back to the UK, our husbands had to stay in Pakistan until they could get a visa to come live in the UK as well. When I went back to school my friends made fun of me and my sisters, we were told by our parents not to tell any teachers about our marriage as they will not understand. I felt weird at the time, I felt different and always had a negative energy in me, my eldest sister was happy about her marriage as she liked her husband however me and my other sister felt depressed as we were forced mentally into marriage.
Things didn’t make sense to me when I was younger but as years went by and eventually our husbands moved to the UK, things started to make sense, we all lived in one house apart from my eldest sister, and my parents bought her a separate house for her and her husband to live. My parents didn’t allow me to go to college; I had to cook dinner for my husband while he worked in a supermarket and cleaned the house daily. I didn’t go near my husband as I was only young and I didn’t feel comfortable, I kept my distance and only carried out the daily duties. My husband was also young he was one year older than me so he was still mentally immature.
As time went on I heard rumours that my husband was spending a lot of time with another woman from work, his boss called my dad and told him that he wasn’t working hard enough and instead spending most of the time talking with his co-worker. My father confronted him when he arrived home and he didn’t deny it, he said he wouldn’t do it again and that he would work harder. After a week my father received another phone call from my husband’s boss that he was cheating on me with that same woman and he was caught red handed. This time my husband denied it and said his boss was lying, my father said if it was true he would throw him out the house and send him back to Pakistan.
When I found out I didn’t know how I felt, I had no emotional bond with my husband but I was still sad that I had been cheated on. I confronted my husband and asked him if it was true, he turned around and slapped me in my face and said ‘never question me!’ I ran downstairs and told my dad what he had done, as you can imagine now the sky went red, the roof came off and all hell broke loose. A few hours later my now ex-husband was back on a plane to Pakistan and we got a divorce. I was very upset that I had been hit and I cried for days, I was worried for my two older sisters and prayed for their safety.
Time went by and I went to college, I studied art as it was my passion since childhood. My friends would always ask me about men and if I liked that guy or this guy but my answer was always no, I believe I was mentally affected and had a negative view of men because of the catastrophe that took place with my cousin. My mind never developed the way it was supposed to develop like a normal child and teenager. Normal kids and teenagers were out having a good time with friends but from 15 onwards I was in the kitchen cooking and cleaning for my husband.
I didn’t focus on men or relationships at all; I focussed on college and then university. I graduated when I was 25 and was happy in life; by this time in my life my second eldest sister was divorced as well. My two cousins turned out to be the same; lying, manipulative violent cheats. My parents were upset that their two daughters were divorced and single; my eldest sister had kids and was happily married.
One day we received a leaflet in the post from a marriage bureau for Muslims; we laughed and thought we would have no luck with a marriage bureau either. However I thought let’s check the website out, what have we got to lose. We were extremely surprised with the website and the reviews that 100s of people have written with their success stories. I decided to give this Muslim marriage bureau a call, I spoke to this very nice gentleman and he told us that finding me and my sister suitable matches from the UK would take no longer than 14 days, he explained the procedure to me and I signed us up to Hum Marriage Bureau.
Within a few days both me and my sister received matches however the man and I didn’t click straight away, so we were sent more matches. Within a month both of us were in talks with two down to earth decent men. We started off texting until I was comfortable enough to
send a picture of myself and talk on the phone. We were both happy and both my parents and his parents decided to meet at his family home, things went perfect and after 4 months we got married. I could not be happier, my husband whose name is Isa is an amazing man and I could not have asked for anyone better. My sister also remarried and was very happy as well.
The service we received from Hum Marriage Bureau was phenomenal and I cannot thank them enough, I invited the entire team to my wedding to say thanks.
This is my story and even though my life started bad, I can say now that my sisters and I are very happy.
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