Shazia Mirza: Diary of a disappointing daughter

“What’s love got to do with it?” my mum shouted at me and my brother this week.

We were in the kitchen and my brother, who is 31, had ¬≠casually said, “I’d like to get married soon, but I’d

like to marry for love.

“Mum went berserk. “What’s love?” she demanded. “Love doesn’t last. I don’t love your dad, and we’ve been married 47 years!”

Noticing the incredulous look on our faces, she added, “Well, it’s not the kind of love you see in The Thorn Birds or the kind of love Cilla Black had with her husband.

We keep an eye on each other through the night.I say your dad’s name to make sure he’s still breathing,and he nudges me when he wants a cup of tea. That’s love.” I’d always wondered what my parents’ definition of love was. Now I know – it’s checking to see if my diabetic father is dying in his sleep.

She continued ranting. “I don’t know what your generation want. We never had ‘love’ in our day.” Then she turned to my brother and asked, “What do you want?”

“I’d like to meet a girl, fall in love and marry her.”

“You fall in love after marriage, not before,” Mum said.

“I met your dad only once, for 20 minutes, before our wedding day. He looked OK, so that was it.

And even if he hadn’t looked OK, that still would have been it. We had to make it work no matter what. We call it ‘kismet’ or destiny.” She then turned to me: “Anything will do. It doesn’t matter who it is, you’ll still have to take it in turns to put the bins out. That’s love.”