Tooba Imtiaz: Were her in-laws to blame?

Tooba Imtiaz was openly taunted, humiliated and mistreated by her in-laws. She was a burden more than an asset.

Ayesha Pervez October 25, 2012
The month of October brings heat, dust and the promise of a soon to come winter. It also brings with it the sad memory of a vibrant rose bud whose life was ruthlessly cut short.

It has been a year since the young and beautiful Tooba Imtiaz left this world forever.

Last October, Tooba was found dead at her in-laws house in Karachi. She was 23-years-old and pregnant. After her tragic death, Tooba lived on in the hearts of her two brothers and her widowed mother. Speculation has it that Tooba was murdered by her own husband and her father-in-law, but it is yet too early to say, this case is still under dispute in the courts.

Tooba’s in-laws have put forward the assumption that she committed suicide. Although, there is no hard evidence to deny such a possibility, certain facts such as the location of the gun shot and the position of the dead body suggest that this assumption seem rather baseless.

However, the kind of circumstances Tooba was living in since her marriage were enough to drive anyone to the point of committing suicide albeit this was not the case. Immediately after marriage, her in-laws started mistreating her. She was openly taunted and humiliated; she was routinely called an ‘orphan’, accused of being lazy, expected to do more than her share of housework and not allowed to be in her room alone. Moreover, an expectation of becoming impregnated with a male child was placed down heavily upon her.

Tooba’s mother and her close friend, speaking to the media, stated how upset and morose she had become right at the outset of her marriage. Furthermore, they witnessed a cheerful and lively girl mutate into a blue bird, solemn and quiet, almost overnight.

According to her mother, Tooba kept asking for some time to adjust. She was new to married life and needed time to understand how things worked in this life. She was constantly making mistakes and not being able to deal with her parent’s in-law in the diplomatic manner that a ‘smart’ girl should employ. Thus, things were quickly spiralling out of control.

According to the news reports, she came to her parents' house one day after things had gotten especially worrisome at her in-laws' house. After a day or two, her husband eventually made up for it and took her back home. The very next day she was found dead in her bedroom with a gunshot wound on her throat and a pistol by her side. According to Tooba’s mother, when her in-law’s met her, they were anxious and apologetic. Whether Tooba committed suicide or she was murdered by her in-laws, it is obvious that the relationship Tooba shared with her in-laws was extremely strained.

The circumstances Tooba faced after her marriage form some of the common complaints I have heard from various friends and acquaintances, especially in regard to space and freedom. It is indeed tough for any girl to adjust to a new family. Hence in-laws should be more welcoming and sympathetic during this transition period.

However, I also believe that girls should be educated and informed about what to expect in their life after marriage. They 'happily ever after' mantra shouldn't be fed to them, and girls should be made aware of the concept of making compromises in order to coexist peacefully with their in-laws. More importantly, women should attain a degree of independence and financial stability before marriage. If a young girl is pushed into marriage and goes through a lifetime of bullying and mistreatment by her in-laws, she will turn bitter and churn out the same behaviour to her daughter in-law(s). It is also important for couples to understand each other and for their families to know each other well.

Nowadays, parents are in a rush to marry off their young daughters, to any seemingly good rishta (proposal) that knocks on their door, even if there are obvious differences. In Tooba’s case, her husband was not only a decade older than her but their families only knew each other superficially.

It is indeed ironic how when parent’s give their daughter away, they expect her to be treated like a princess, yet at the same time when someone else’s flesh and blood arrives at their abode, they turn hostile. I believe that the situation can be resolved if the daughter in- law is confident, self sufficient and willing to overlook small details. Such a daughter in-law will make the family realise that they have gained an asset, instead of a burden.

Read more by Ayesha Pervez here
Ayesha Pervez Currently pursuing TESL in Canada, Ayesha Pervez is an English Literature graduate from the University of Karachi who has completed courses in short-fiction and journalism from Harvard University.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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