LAHORE: For the third time, the judge asks the children with whom they want to go. The kids keep silent, staring at their mom first and then the father.
“You have made the life of your children miserable,” the sessions judge reprimands the couple. “Do you know how much this will affect their life owing to your strained relationship?”
The parents remain silent. They know their relationship has hit rock bottom. But what about their three children?
Imran and Sonia married out of love for each other more than 10 years ago. Their relationship turned sour after the man started accusing his wife of extramarital affairs and tried to stop her from working.
The husband resorted to thrashing the woman and using derogatory language to force her to stay home. Sonia refused to budge and instead left her husband’s house.
Their case has landed in court over the custody of the three children – nine-year-old Malika Khan, eight-year-old Muhammad Ahmed Khan and seven-year-old Abdul Ahad Khan.
The minors, wearing school uniforms, stand speechless in front of the additional district and sessions judge, when he asks them to choose between their parents. Oblivious of the situation, Ahmed tries to climb on the dice but her mother pulls him back.
The judge asks the man if his wife’s allegations of beating, abusing and accusing her of illicit relations are true.
Imran admits he forbade her from working at factories but she did not listen to him and instead used derogatory language against him.
“Please be serious with life,” the judge tells the man. “Respect your wife.”
The judge then asks the minors whether they want to go with their father or mother.
The man picks up her daughter and starts cajoling her. But Malika remains silent while looking at his father.
Let’s send the kids to the child protection bureau till the matter is resolved, the judge says then calls the children to his chair and starts talking to them in whispers. The children giggle at first seemingly amused by the judge’s act, but start weeping when the couple is told to sit down for reconciliation.
The man tries to persuade his wife but Sonia is adamant not to live with him anymore for doubting her character despite her spending 10 years in his house. The children are taken to their parents as the matter is being settled.
Later the judge handed over the two boys to the mother while giving the custody of Malika to her father after she opted to stay with him. The next hearing is scheduled for today (Wednesday) as the couple has sought time for reconciliation.
While talking to The Express Tribune, the minors say they just want to play and go to school for getting education. Imran says he does not want his wife to leave the house for work. “She should not be working when I am alive,” he believes. “I can earn for the family myself.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2017.