My parents have been married for 40 years. When people congratulate them on it, my mum replies, “Well, we endured it.” She has coped with it in the same way Nelson Mandela coped on Robben Island. “You’re here now, escape is impossible, so you may as well study for a degree.”
Back then, divorce wasn’t socially acceptable, and once you were married it was for ever, no matter what. My mum says, “A husband is not like a tablecloth. You don’t want to change him every fortnight.”
Growing up, no one’s parents on our street were divorced. Now where they live, half the couples have split up. My parents say, “People don’t try hard enough – any sign of trouble and they’re out. In our day, we had no choice, we had to make it work; even when we hated each other we had to grow to like each other.
I explain to my mother that having a choice now is good, and that if my husband turned out to be a violent, lazy, adulterous criminal who leaves his underpants on display in the bathroom window and never cooks, then I would definitely divorce him.
My dad’s view of marriage is mysterious. He always says to my brothers, “You must get a woman with a nice personality.” He says he married my mother because his parents in Pakistan told him, “You’re 30, you’re over the hill. It’s now or never. If you don’t marry this woman, nobody will have you.”
But I know my dad. And what he means by a “nice personality” is a great pair of double-D breasts.