A Daughter's Heart vs. Her Mother's Wishes

A Daughter's Heart vs. Her Mother's Wishes

Collected by Shugri Salh and Sufyan Said Art by Kaelin Yumi Hall-Gardner Translated by Mahat Hillow

When we were young, my cousin found himself head over heels in love. The object of his affection was a young woman with breathtaking beauty. Their love blossomed in secret for months. However, they were faced with a huge problem.

The girl was the daughter of one of the most feared women in the desert. She was a fiercely overprotective mother, whose bad character and stubbornness was infamous among the nomads. To fight her was to fight a lion with your bare hands.  

My cousin knew the girl’s mother would never approve of their union. He had tried to escape with her before, but her mother caught up with them and took her daughter back. She cursed him and warned him never to return. 

  One summer evening, my cousin approached me with a desperate plea, "I know her mother will never accept me. I need you to help me elope with this girl." 

I agreed to assist him. We put a plan in place for him to elope with the girl to a place known as Gal-Suban. This place was named after a woman named Suban, who was attacked by a lion in that area. It was also known for being home to many lions. The girl was guarded by her fearsome mother who protected her with her life. Her mother's home was situated in a place called Dalale. As planned, the following night we arrived near the girl's home, only to discover that she was out, engaging in traditional dancing and socializing in a nearby area. We sent a random girl in the neighborhood to deliver her an urgent message: When your mother falls asleep, meet us near the qaranro tree. 

We waited for hours, afraid her mother would come for us instead. It was the rainy season, with green leaves adorning the trees, birds chirping everywhere and the ground a muddied canvas beneath our feet. We heard the sound of footsteps approaching in between the trees. Not sure what to expect, we both stood at attention. When we spotted the figure in the darkness, relief washed over us. We knew it was not her mother by the way she walked. 

The girl, her face lit with excitement, arrived at the tree. We were shocked by her bravery, walking alone at this hour of the night without fear of wild animals like hyenas. She knew her strict mother checked on her through the night to be sure she was in bed, so the girl waited until her mother was in a deep sleep, then quickly left unnoticed. She was madly in love with my cousin and after months of courting, she was willing to go against her mother’s wishes to be with him.

As we journeyed through the untamed terrain, our path led us to the vast plains of Qoraxey. It was past midnight when we approached a roaring stream, its turbulent waters separating us from our destination. The last time they had tried to elope, her mother caught up to them at this very same stream. Despite how dangerous it was, we had no choice but to cross the water. The stream seemed like an insurmountable obstacle, and it had no bridge to cross over to the other side. A mix of worry and determination filled us. Time was not on our side as, unknown to us, the mother had already discovered our plan and was trailing us silently.   

With our hearts racing, we began to search for a way to cross the stream. Fueled by rain, the water was fast and treacherous. Panic set in as we wondered how to proceed. My cousin and I were great swimmers, but the girl was not. We only had two options: cross the stream or risk her mother catching up with us. 

We chose the first.

The mother was harsh, very aggressive and she often cursed those who wronged her. She was an extremely arrogant woman, and she never wanted anyone to marry her daughter. Her pride and haughtiness were well known by everyone. Many had said she was bitter because her husband divorced her and married a younger woman. She looked after her goats and her daughters, but nobody dared to come near her solitary cottage. Her voice was deep and resonant, much like that of a man. The girl my cousin wanted to marry was her youngest, whom she adored very much. In her heart, the mother felt my cousin was a poor boy who lacked  material wealth, or even the ability to pay a simple dowry. For that, he was beneath her and her daughter. 

"It's better we get across now. Her mother will catch up to us at some point," I insisted. My cousin agreed. 

We had brought along a ten-liter jerry can filled with drinking water for the journey. My cousin instructed me to pour out the water so we could use the can to help us float if needed. I carried our clothes and the jerry can while my cousin carried the girl into the cold, rushing waters. It was very dark. We could only see each other's heads as our limbs moved with practiced precision, cutting through the waves of the water. They took the lead, approaching the deep waters first, with me not far behind. The force of the deep water was strong and it moved in a circular motion, threatening to pull them under. I saw that they were no longer making progress.

"What is happening?" I called out. 

  "We got stuck in the current! It is circling around us!" he shouted back over the roaring water. 

The girl was petrified. She desperately clung to him, her eyes wide. I was afraid that if she held him too tight, he might not be able to swim. 

"Hold on!" I yelled “I’m coming!”

  I dove to their side of the water in a bid to rescue them. I briefly wondered if this was really better than facing her mother.

  "Cling on to the jerry can!” I called to the girl as I pushed it into her cold hands.

“We will either make it out alive or drown together,” my cousin told her, as we frantically tried to escape the swirling water. Our strength and determination were the only thing keeping us afloat. The girl's fear grew the longer we were in the water.

Tired and disoriented, she asked, "Can I let go yet?”

"Please hold on!” We repeated, afraid she was beyond exhaustion.

We pressed on, inching closer to the opposite bank. After almost a half an hour of struggling in the water we finally came out at the far end, frightened and gasping for breath. It was a very lonely place, and there was no one else around but the three of us.   

  As we laid the girl on the ground, she immediately fainted. Her frail body succumbed to exhaustion, shock and the overwhelming ordeal in a way that resembled a heart attack. With concern etched across our faces, we tended to her. 

"Do you know Yasin, the verse in the Qur'an for healing?” I asked my cousin.

He answered, "I used to know, but now I can't remember it.”

Desperation rushed through us as we knelt beside her. After some time and with the help of God, her eyelids fluttered, and she began to regain consciousness slowly. Relief washed over us when she started asking us questions: “Where am I? Where is my home? What am I doing here?”

 We reminded her that we left her home the previous evening. When at first she didn’t remember, we feared for her mental state. However, she finally gained her full consciousness. After a short rest, we continued on. The night was thick with tension, and the crickets sang a nervous symphony in the background

As we suspected, despite the fact that it was the middle of the night, the girl’s mother had grabbed a flashlight and trailed our footsteps. She came across the huge stream and ran up and down looking for ways to cross. When she spotted the point where we entered the stream, the mother knew the bond between her daughter and the boy was stronger than any obstacle. It was a love that defied her wishes. That realization did not stop her from trying to get her daughter back, however. The mother didn't know how to swim, but desperation drove her to find a way to keep after us. In the wee hours before dawn, she made her way to the nearest homestead and spent the night there. 

In the morning, she requested the family to help her cross the stream, but the inhabitants of the home recognized her and declined. They knew she was after us - it was the second time she tried to break up the young lovers. She was told to leave the couple alone. After moving far away from her, the boy and the girl successfully tied the knot and the bride price ceremony was conducted by the girl's father. The mother was advised that now that she was his mother-in-law, she shouldn't disturb the peace of the young couple. 

After some time had passed, the mother decided to visit her daughter and tried to take her home, but the girl declined her request. The mother, swallowing her disappointment, left her daughter's home. 

The couple eventually had children and became a happy family.

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1 comment

Beautiful story


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