I met her once in a while . She was beautiful and her black and mysterious eyes made her even more beautiful.
– I have come to you because I have not had a roof over my head for days. I need help.
She tried to hide the tears that now flowed down her cheeks .
– What happened to you? You’ve got your family here.
She lifted her head. Her eyes looked sad out and talked about a great and ardent grief within her.
– Yes, I have family here , it’s true. Everyone says the same thing. But now I have left them and would not return.
She went to the window and stared at the newly fallen snow that had climbed nature with its beautiful color :
– I will not return. I can not take anymore, do you understand me ?
– But where will you go ? Think a little realistic!
It confused her and she answered the question immediately :
– Realistically ! I hate that word. To return and obey the family and culture ancient rules is realistic. But to say that you have the right to speak and stand up for their rights is unrealistic and youthful judgment.
She was upset and talked incessantly. Suddenly, she calmed down and came closer to me and said softly :
– I do not philosophize . Now it’s my own person , my career and future. If I tell you everything I ‘ve been through it will be easier for you to understand my suffering and my objection .
She was silent for a few seconds and then she continued with tears in my throat :
– I came here as a refugee a few years ago . Then I was happy, playing with my mates and felt like a bird flying in the blue sky, the chirping of gladness green branches .
She went to the window again and watched the sunset . The sun looked like a fireball slowly dying in the dark. She sighed deeply :
– Now the green twigs yellowed and the sky is cruel. No, that’s not true, I do not think … yes … yes …
She could not talk anymore.
– Do not cry, come and sit down ! Tell us about all your sorrows . Empty everything out . Then you will feel lighter , I said.
– I’m sorry. I could not cry before, but now , now it becomes easier when you have someone who can listen .
She became a little calmer and wiped the tears , sat next to me and said:
– Yes, we women are born to obey and suffer. I had no idea until I found myself in circumstances , many women find themselves in. Then I realized that it was a long way to struggle to get free from this my suffering .
She went a little further away , staring at the chandelier whose faint light made her face more expressive :
– My parents decided to marry me . I talked to them several times , but they did not listen to me .
– Why should I marry ? It’s too early . Why torture me? Why do not you leave me peace , I asked my mother.
– It’s time to get married. The girls your age already have some children and their families , she said .
– It is unfair . I’m only 16 years old and it is too early to get married. Also, I have my own plans for the future , I answered her.
When I discussed it with my father, he was troubled :
– Are you trying to persuade me to think that the sinful people who live in this immoral society? No, then you have chosen the wrong person. I do not want to lose my baby. Now you are an adult, it’s time to marry and to found a family of his own .
I never thought he would answer me in this way, for he talked always about people’s rights .
A few days later , he forbade me to go to school and to town to hang out with my friends. Meanwhile talked my mother always with me, to persuade me :
– Do not be stubborn. I want you to be happy. You know that we are different from other people. We do not mix with them. We are from different cultures. Additionally, we have different religions. We are obliged to preserve our culture and tradition.
I did not quite understand what she meant, but I was convinced that what my parents were talking about was unrealistic , which I could not accept.
Time passed slowly in those days . I had to stay in my room , or rather, in my solitary confinement. Although I live in a democratic and pretty fair country , I felt terrible, because I was threatened not to reveal it to anyone .
According to my parents I have to leave the Swedish society , return to the home and raise my kids . Preserve parental culture, tradition and above all to marry one of my relatives who is 20 years older than me .
It felt heavy for me , because I ‘ve grown up here and are unfamiliar with the tradition that my family talking about. How could I leave this vibrant community that I have come into the step by step?
She became upset again and tears ran down her cheeks , now faded and looked like a wilted flower in autumn’s first days .
– Do not cry, it’ll work out . You already freed you and run away from home , so do not worry but take it easy my friend.
– I’ll never return. I prefer to die rather than to be with such a family , marry a man who is 20 years older and maintain a culture that is ancient misogynist . No, I never do .. it … should …
She was unable to speak but got up and looked around and came closer to me :
– I need money to run away and hide. It is the only way out. No one should know about it. I’ll go my own way and free me from this difficult situation.
– But there is a big risk you take. Where will you live then? How will you survive the winter? It is better that you stay here with me.
She looked at me with a knowing look :
– I can find somewhere to stay … I ‘ll pay you back your money.
– I mean …
– What? I have to escape and get rid of this painful situation . If I could afford to pay the travel costs , I would not ask you for money, you do not have a better economy than I am. But you are the only person that I believe in and know well.
– I give you the money you need , but I think it would be better if you stay here … you said you do not have anywhere to stay … why …
She put on her jacket and went to the door and turned around :
Thanks for the help. I ‘ll pay you back your money. Do not worry . I fight for my rights . I hold from the culture, religion and tradition that insulates me . I want to live in peace , away from it all … I am human …
The wind was strong . The snow forced their way into the room when the door was shut .
Inside the small room was a letter left :
I hold , because I do not count as a whole person . I can not stay. I must hold , otherwise it fades away I of religion , culture and tradition’s strict rules . I need to escape …
The sun sank into darkness deep ocean . The snow covered the girl’s left behind footprints and a few tears fell on the letter’s first line . I fight for my rights …
FOLKET I BILD 1997 – Penned by Josef
Original title : Gift
GIFT = MIRRAGE in Swedish
GIFT = POISON in Swedish
True life story from a forced marriage.
This story was first published in 1997 in Swedish