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Advice: Spiting your face

July 01, 2012

Hi Auntie,

I was teaching in a college after my MA in English Literature and was 26 when I got married to a British man. He and his family told me that he is 36 years old. It was an arranged marriage. After coming here to London I got to know from his documents that he is 46. Moreover he is totally under the influence of his family. They always taunt me and generally hate me. I don’t have the courage to reply to them and just bear it all. Because of all this I gave birth to a stillborn child in my eighth month of pregnancy. Since then I haven’t been able to conceive. You cannot imagine how they treat me. Just like an object with no value. I haven’t shared this with my family as I was treated like a princess in my parents’ home. I belong to a middle class but highly educated family.


Dear Princess,

Next time your in-laws taunt you, why don’t you muster up the courage to reply to them? Just give it right back. Just say the first thing that comes to your mind. You have to change the pattern that you have set with your in-laws. Unfortunately, it comes from years of conditioning in our society which dictates that we should respect our elders and our in-laws no matter what. Respect for others is a good thing, but there is always the odd elder and in-laws who just doesn’t deserve the respect and certainly doesn’t know how to handle it. From the sounds of it, your in-laws probably thought that getting a bride from Pakistan meant they would be getting an opinion-less maid with no self esteem who would do their bidding. With you writing in to a newspaper about your predicament…that’s a bit of a misfire, innit? Please tell your parents about what’s happening to you in the UK. If you can’t talk to them on the phone, email them, but do let them know.

Ideally you should arm yourself with the contacts of the police (in case the in-laws get funny) and plan your journey back to Pakistan. If your husband doesn’t give you a ticket, ask your parents to arrange for your trip back.

Hi Auntie!

I have a maternal uncle and I love him very much. Since childhood I am attached to him. Two years ago when I was 13 years old I met his friend who is in his 40s. I am 15-years old now. He gave me his cell number and asked me not to tell my uncle. I agreed because he has been my uncle’s friend for 30 years. I thought him to be trustworthy. We talked for a week. After some days he started asking me if I could make him my friend and to have blind trust on him. He also said that my uncle should not know about our friendship. I asked him why he wanted to be my friend. He said that he liked me and my personality. I was suspicious because why would a 43-year old man like a 13-year old girl and why would he be influenced by her personality? I immediately informed my uncle about what was going on and how his friend gave me his number. My uncle got mad at me first and talked to his friend. My uncle scolded me as if everything was my fault. But the next day my uncle said that it’s all right and I must not repeat the mistake. Then things were back to normal.

After six months that same friend of my uncle rang up on his cell phone. My uncle received the call and went outside our house. When he came back I asked him why he talked to that man and my uncle lied to me that the call didn’t get through. In other words his friend was making prank calls to him. I know this is a lie. Thus I started ignoring my uncle and stopped talking to him. When he used to say salam to me I never used to reply. He used to smile at me and I used to look away. On Eid day also I greeted everyone and left him out. I personally feel bad ignoring him because I love him deeply. I was also rude to him in other ways.

My uncle is friends with that creep again. I seriously hate him. But now my uncle also ignores me. He talks to my other cousins, brings them gifts, plays jokes on them, takes their pictures with his camera and ignores me. I want my uncle to talk to me like how he talks to my other cousins and I also want him to end his friendship with that man. When I try to explain to him that I am not in the wrong and that it was his friend’s fault, he takes his friend side.


Dear Loving Niece,

By ignoring your uncle you’ve made an already complicated situation worse. And by insisting that your uncle stop being friends with that creep you are not helping anyone. But to make things better, can you please make your love for your uncle unconditional? As in, don’t insist that he leave his friend. Your uncle may see his friend for the sneak that he is. Or maybe he won’t.

While Auntie agrees that the family ‘friend’ is more to blame for the fiasco two years ago — he was an adult and should have known better — can’t you just ignore the existence of this man rather than snubbing your uncle whom you love so much. Can’t you think of your uncle as an entity separate from that creep? Please don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

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