Getting His Daughter Married, a Father’s Viewpoint

‘It is emotionally dreadfully difficult for a mother to get her daughter married and move away,’ the declaration of my wife left me wondering.

My loved-for-whole-life-since-we-got-married wife’s assumption was: Getting his daughter married is psychologically just kid stuff for a father. So, when I made arrangements for my first, of two, daughter’s wedding, I decided to especially note psychological and emotional transformation I went through.

The first time the transformation began was long before we even thought about making marriage arrangements. It was when for the first time my (I assume it entirely your responsibility to always include the long hyphenated compound word between the two word phrase “my wife” as I did first time, I wrote it, just for her pleasure and favors to shower upon you) wife told me:

ajee suniye! aj college say ghar zara jaldi ajaye ga kuch mehman aa rahey hain sham ko Faati (Fatima) ko dekhney.’

If translated into language of Dickens, Defoe, Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, and the likes, it will sound something similar to:

ajeee,” (unavailability of an alternative for this word in their language forces me to use it as it’s used in Urdu and reveals that no wife, speaking Dickens, Defoe, Shakespeare, or Samuel Johnson’s lingua franca, addresses her hubby with so comely attention drawing interjection and that too, in such coyly manner as an Urdu speaking wife does. Undeniably a wife in our side of the world is more husband-respecting, or for that matter, fearing than in their side.) Although suniye literally means ‘listen’, when uttered by my wife, I always interpret it as, pay attention! So the message was: “Pay attention, today come home a little earlier from college. Some guests are arriving in the evening to see Faati.”

The news was startling. ‘So much time has so swiftly passed! Today I was being informed about the guests who were coming to see my daughter as a prospective wife for their son. It seemed as if it was just a little while ago, I vividly remember, when my Baba and Mama went as guest to see Girls as my potential wife. I had odd feelings and was not ready to believe and accept to play my part – as a father waiting to welcome the perspective son in law. But willing or unwilling, ready or not, I had to play my part.

It took nearly a year and three more performances of acting this role out before we finally agreed on the boy Fatima was being married to. How traumatic, weird, plus magnificent, and delicate this part was to play, only a girl’s father who has gone through this experience can sense what I strive to describe here. It doesn’t mean that Ftima’s Mother had no trouble, but she being an active participant in so many relatives’ nuptial knot-tying affairs was far more relaxed than I.

After being through this selection of a suitable son-in-law I took a sigh of relief expecting peace to return in my life and to some extent it did return as far as the hunt for Mr. Right was concerned. However, now a new psychological dilemma surfaced to destroy my tranquility.

As the time neared, I was constantly worried about my much-loved and taken-care-of daughter’s post marital future; perhaps, every father goes through this sort of experience. The thoughts that haunted me incessantly were: Will her in-laws love her as much as we did? Will they take care of her innocent desires which sometimes appeared as follies? Will she be as happy as she was here – in her paternal home? I don’t know why was I so over concerned about her?  In past, however, I never ever took much trouble to make sure that she was comfortable. It was entirely my (the hyphenated compound adjective included) wife’s responsibility and she very pleasantly and conscientiously took it and delivered. But now I was acting just as someone whose very close relative was on death bed and he was leaving no stone unturned to provide him every comfort before he dies.

I wasn’t aware of the separation of a loving and loved daughter when I brought home a piece of someone else’s heart as my mistress that one day – soon – I’ll have to payback. I learnt it when the day of getting my daughter married and move away arrived.

I bought her favorite fruits, chocolates, handbags, earrings, DVDs, magazines and anything I knew she admired. At night, I often kept sitting, talking to her about her preferred books, sports, writers, movie stars, fashion Mages, songs, singers, places, dreams, TV shows, and whatnot and whatnot for hours and hours till she herself felt tired and got up to go to bed.

Perhaps she knew my perception of her and the necessity of these talks to change it. She very openly talked her heart out to console me.

And for the first time I became aware of her interests, likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses and discovered a real her I was not aware of. Up till now, for me she was a little child who needed to be pampered but these discussions revealed her as a mature individual who was in every sense able to not only take care of herself, but also competent enough to shoulder the responsibility of those who were going to be dependent on her.

Finally, arrived the day I was most anxious about, not because there were still some things to be done but because I merely couldn’t persuade myself to separate my loveliest daughter from me and allow someone entirely stranger to take her away. It was the most valuable sharing I ever contributed, the most agonizing experience I ever felt, and the biggest sacrifice I ever made. this experience helped me fully understand the sacrifice Hazrat Ibrahim (peace be upon him) made when he was required to give his loveliest thing – born in an elderly age, son – in the way of Allah and how with the greatest courage and profoundest dignity that a human can ever demonstrate he bowed his head in front of the will of Allah and got ready to scarify Hazrat Ismail (peace be upon him). I learnt that all of us are expected to be ready to give what we love the most in the way of Allah.

The marriage of my daughter taught me a lesson that it was the system Allah designed to give birth to a girl, love her, feed her well, bring her up, educate her, and then learn to share her blessings; so give her in the marriage of somebody, taking and expecting nothing from him in return, in the name of Allah. Moreover, this lesson provided me with the required courage and consolation to happily separate myself from her and let her move away.

The experience proved that it’s not only a mother for whom it is psychologically and emotionally difficult to get her daughter married and move away but a father too goes through the same traumatic experience. Nevertheless, it happens so only if they (parents) fail to understand, appreciate and surrender their egoistic wishes and learn to give, share, and enjoy the intelligent plan devised by our creator, provider, sustainer, and Lord.

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