Monday Column:The crossroads of life

Opinion Sunday 02/April/2023 19:26 PM
By: Saleh Al-Shaibany
Monday Column:The crossroads of life

I would like to say that, over the years, I have learned to accept disappointments. But each time something has not worked my way, I tend to brood about it longer than I should. I would like to have the mental strength to move on and rise to the challenge the moment the problem is imposed on me. I know time is essential but then you need to manage it accordingly to get you to the next level.

However, having said that, I take for comfort that I am not the only one. Just the other day, when I thought the roof of the world was collapsing on my head, in my futile attempt to forget, I bumped into a young lady who I haven’t seen for quite sometimes. She looked older than her age and withdrawn. It made me feel better sitting there listening to her. It was a welcoming interlude. I was not anymore alone with my thoughts and someone was offloading her own anguish and I felt strangely privilege to be there.

She reached a crossroad, she said. In her circumstances, approaching thirty was frightening. She was still living with her domineering parents whom she found very suppressing. Being very much a woman of the east, she could not just pack her bag and leave. She would like to but “the gossip would kill” her mother, not to mention her disciplinarian father. Her parents have lined up a “nice boy back in India” as a husband and there was no room for negotiation. In her society, a woman in her late twenties was “too old” for most suitors of any good repute. Her parents were pressing her saying that time was running against her.

They even forced her to leave her work so she could not meet other men. She was forbidden to drive a car and her college days were cut short. Her mobile phone was regularly checked for any “undue text messages” and she had to explain to her parents every call that was made to her. To make it worse, she was still secretly seeing the boyfriend her parents “ordered” her not to. But the problem was that she had been standing on that crossroad for too long. She either had to resign herself to please her parents but live an unhappy life or rush into marrying her boyfriend, who has proved to be an escape route from her ordeal.

She admitted that the boyfriend was just a two-year attachment but marrying him might be the key of unlocking the shackles. Living with him would just be a  temporary solution but not what she really wanted. When I smiled, she did not find that amusing and accused me of being insensitive. I wish I had a solution for her. However, I asked to be true to herself and walked away from the crossroad. I told her there are always inroads when you look deep enough. These are not shortcuts but a long way around to a solution that might pay good dividends in the end.

Her parents would be alright and see her point in the long run. It is her happiness that mattered.

Throwing away her ambitions and dreams and just plunging in a bad situation would ruin it for her. I might have been guilty of being an instigator of a course that might make her rebel to her parents and two young men involved in her life. But I know now I am right. I have to be because no one deserves to cheaply throw their lives in the hands of others just to satisfy an ego or a misplaced commitment. When we parted company that morning, my interlude with her provided me with new ammunition to my own problems.