It was my 24th birthday, and I was excited to see what my parents had in store. Last year, they bought me a pair of gold earrings, which was very generous of them, but I told them that I didn't want them to spend so much money on me. I had explained that I was capable of making my own money and that they should enjoy their lives instead of worrying about me all the time.
But then my mom said something that caught me off guard. "We have a surprise for you," she said with a smile. I was curious to see what it was, but then she added, "How can we enjoy our lives when our only daughter is still unmarried?" I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I was only 24, and my life had just begun. Why were they treating me like I was in my 40s? I tried to explain that I wasn't ready for marriage yet, but they didn't seem to listen. Later that day, I found out that they had been talking to a guy's family about arranging a marriage for me. I was devastated. I felt like my parents would trust a random guy over me. They didn't care about my happiness as much as they did about society and the so-called "honor" that came with me marrying a guy with good status. I couldn't take it anymore. It was my birthday and it was supposed to be a celebration for me. My parents thinking of forcing me into a marriage on my birthday emotionally broke me down. I cried and wished I wasn't alive anymore.
I had always tried to be the good girl my parents wanted. I focused on my classes and always got good grades. Growing up, I never really had friends because my parents didn't think having friends would benefit me. According to them, friends were a bad influence. So, I never visited or had any sleepovers growing up. I was always well-behaved and didn't do certain things, such as getting dolls, going to the movie theatres with friends, or hanging out to play because either my dad didn't like it or my mom did. I had always admired the things my parents did to provide for me and give me a good life, but now I felt trapped and suffocated by their expectations.
I think my parents thought they were giving me the best surprise by arranging a marriage for me, but it was a traumatic experience for me. I felt like they didn't trust me to make my own decisions and that they valued societal expectations over my happiness. It was difficult, but I'm working on healing and moving forward. My parents were angry because I refused to meet the guy they thought would be a perfect match for me because of which there was no birthday celebration. So I silently made a wish in my room on my 24th birthday. I wished to be a bird, soaring through the sky and free from the constraints of life. I wished to be a tree, rooted in the earth and reaching for the sky. I wished to be anything and everything, except for the one thing that I am: a woman. But I must remember that I am a force of nature in my own right and that I have the power to break free from any cage and spread my wings.
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