| This is the 506th story of Our Life Logs |
As I begin to tell you my story, please know that it is painful. Even so, I wish to do so for all the victims out there so that, they too, will become survivors.
I was born in 1992 in Kasur, Pakistan, and was raised alongside my two older sisters and a younger brother. We were not wealthy by any means. Kasur is a very small village, and my father owned a very small grocery store in said village, and my mother was a housewife. Profits ran thin, as you can imagine, but our parents taught us to be content with what was on our plate. And through it all we always managed, and did so with lots of playing, dancing, and celebrating time together with tea and biscuits—even in the hard times. Still, I dreamed of moving to a bigger city, like Lahore or Karachi or Islamabad.
Since I can remember, my mother was worried about getting her daughters married. Yes, she was that kind of mother. My mother found a husband for my oldest sister who, at the time, was 16 and had no intention of marrying. My other sister was able to complete her bachelor’s, but eventually, my second oldest sister was married, so I was the only one left.
At 16, my mother made me take stitching classes to earn money. She would have gotten me married too, but it was the only thing that I was gutsy enough to take a stand on. I wanted to complete school and become a teacher but my mother believed that a real skill is the one that lies in hand. I bent to her request because I had no other choice.
It wasn’t so bad, frankly. I quite liked learning the skill, and the lady who taught the classes was very talented. I enjoyed it even more because she did not charge me a lot. I decided that, for a few years, I’d just give my best to what I’m learning and one day would open a tailoring shop of my own.
I used to leave my house at 9 AM to walk 10 blocks to the Balkees’ house, and return home at 4 PM so that I could help my mother with the daily chores. Life was good. I never complained. There was nothing to complain about. That is…until my life changed forever.
I still feel pain in telling this. It’s like reliving it all over again.
I was not a very social person. I mean, I had friends but I wouldn’t really go out with them. So, one day, when a friend from class asked me to go with her after class to talk and buy some chaat (a local desi snack), she practically had to force me! I reasoned that it wasn’t very far from the Balkees’ house and that I would be staying out that long. We went.
It was about 4:30 PM on a Friday when my friend and I stood at the stall of the chaat wala (the chaat merchant). As we were simply talking about our lessons, a white bolan carry dabba (a small, box-like car) came screeching towards us. There was no time to react. The car stopped exactly beside the stall and I felt several hands grab my arms.
I remember my friend’s screams. I remember the masks the men wore. I remember how no one could stop the car from speeding away. I remember how painfully I tried to snatch their faces and the sharp rush of realization. I knew I was going to be raped.
The men covered my eyes and tied my hands together. When the car stopped, I was taken someplace that felt cold and empty. There, I was raped over and over again by four different men. For days. When they were done for the day, they would leave me and give me water, only to come back and repeat the torture. I screamed and winced and yelled from the pain and cried for help, but nobody came to my rescue. From the echoes, I knew that there was no one.
While being held captive, I thought about my parents and my siblings and I would be left alive to see them again. I didn’t want to live. I wanted to die. I would scream for them to kill me. But they didn’t. They would laugh at me while they enjoyed my fragile body. They would moan when I screamed out of pain and agony. They would celebrate and laugh among themselves once they were done doing me. Why would I have wanted to live? I was destroyed to my core. I was dead. I was torn. If they left me alive how would I face my parents? So many questions and so many thoughts crossed my mind.
I laid there. Dead. Numb. Pained. Devastated. Raped. Broken. And then…everything turned black.
I was told that authorities found my bruised and beaten body in a dumpster. Completely Naked.
Three days later, I opened my eyes in a general hospital in Lahore. I was told my body was damaged so much I needed instant medical aid. My parents were told that I was gang-raped.
My mother was right by my side when I opened my eyes. I immediately felt pain. She started crying, and I started yelling and screaming at the top of my lungs. I was out of control. My father cried his eyes out seeing me like that. The doctors had to give me injections to calm me down. My body and my vagina were heavily bruised. I couldn’t move, I couldn’t sit, and I couldn’t talk.
For me, life was over. I would lay in the bed and replay the sounds and smells in my mind. I was hospitalized for around four days, and after all my labs and examinations, I was asked to go home. I didn’t want to go back. I never wanted to go to that place again. I kept telling my parents that I wanted to kill myself. I was ashamed to look into my father’s eyes because we both knew what happened to his daughter. That barrier of shyness between a daughter and father was broken.
One of my mother’s cousins lived in Lahore, not far from the hospital. She was so kind and told my parents that I could stay with her for as long as I would want. But I didn’t want to go alone. My mother and father both sacrificed a lot for this. My mother decided to stay with me while my father lived in Kasur to look after his small business. He would come on weekends to meet me but since I was dead and numb, it didn’t really affect or made me happy. I never went outside for fear that a man would come my way and everything would happen again. It was a miserable existence.
Meanwhile, my father went to the police and do as much as he could to help me, but those monsters couldn’t be located.
One day, my aunt came to my room and sat on the bed beside me. She hugged me and said, “It’s okay to be broken, but it’s not okay to stay like this for the rest of your life.” She asked me if I feel like crying and I said yes. She politely said, “Go ahead.”
I cried till I don’t know when, but that actually made me feel better. She told me that I don’t have to feel what I feel about myself. She told me that this could have happened to anyone and that it didn’t make me unholy. Her words sunk deep into my heart. For weeks on end, I had thought of myself unholy. A living curse. It was hard to decipher her sayings, but her love and kindness lingered. That was what was most important.
I began counseling sessions and, after months, I finally decided to go outside. That day, when I stepped onto the street, I realized that my childhood dream of living in a big city had come true. My mother and I explored the building and shops, we stuffed ourselves with hot food, and everything made us laugh. I hadn’t laughed in months.
This doesn’t mean I forgot what happened. The wounds will always be very fresh, but this small taste of what it was like to be healed made me want to try to live again. I wanted more happy days. I wanted to take a new start. The fire of not being able to catch those monsters is still inside of me but I decided that God’s justice would be far more superior.
Several months passed by and everyone started to see a difference in me. It made my father so happy to see that I was becoming whole once more. After I turned 17, my aunt asked me to become the wife of her son, Mansoor, who was 8 years older than me.
Oh, I didn’t want to get married. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Mansoor. In fact, he was a nice person and a gem for accepting me when many men would not have because of what happened. I just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready for any man to touch me again. I still felt bad about myself. But Mansoor, on the other hand, told me that he was happy to have me and that, for him, I was as pure as a newborn baby.
My parents were happy about the whole proposal, and I felt it wrong on my part to make them suffer again. I thought that if I didn’t marry Mansoor, then maybe no man would want to marry me and my mother would eventually go crazy from all the worry. So, I said yes, and we got married six months later. It was a simple ceremony in a mosque and that’s it.
Marrying Mansoor was the best decision of my life because he kept to his word. From the beginning, he treated me with all the love and reverence given to a pure being. He told me that I should bring all my dreams into reality and that he will do all that in his power to make me happy. He made me join stitching classes in Lahore even though that cost him a lot but he never said a word. He promised me that one day he’ll buy me a place where I can open my own tailoring shop. In 2014, we had a daughter who is the apple of our eye. Mansoor has changed my life’s dimensions and made me think so highly of myself.
I am now done with my classes and stitch clothes at home. Many women come to my home and get their clothes made. Moreover, they all love my handiwork and they all appreciate the efforts I put into each piece of clothing. Meanwhile, Mansoor is saving money for the place he promised me. Because of all his goodness and that of my family, I have hope. I have a new love for myself. I am happy again.
If you have a story like mine, then I encourage you to toss your past to the wind. In time, it will crumble, and you will be stronger because of it.
This is the story of Fazia Nusrat
When Fazia was 16 years old, she was kidnapped, raped, and tortured for several days. When she was found and taken to the hospital, Fazia slipped deeper and deeper into depression and hopelessness. When those around her showed Fazia kindness, she was able to begin picking up the pieces of her life. Eventually, she found the will to live again. Faiza is now 28 years old happily married. She has a daughter and a doting husband who accepted her completely. Her husband truly set an example for all the men out there. Faiza loves to stitch. She wishes to open her own tailoring shop one day and become a renowned tailor.
This story first touched our hearts on November 4, 2019.
| Writer: Noor Pasha | Editor: Colleen Walker |
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