Shazia Mirza: Diary of a disappointing daughter

They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do, said Philip Larkin.

My parents could have been the inspiration for that poem.

I have three brothers and one sister, ranging in age from early to late 30s. None of us is married, and my parents regard this as a devastating tragedy. Marriage is the only conversation in our house.

Any attempts at other topics, such as recession, famine and death, all come back to that one subject – on hearing that Danny La Rue died last year, my mum said, “I’m sure even he had children.

“This week my mother returned from Mecca for the 11th time. She called me and said, “Hello, I’m back.

“How was it?” I asked.

“I prayed a lot,” she said. “I prayed so at least something should happen to one of you.

I am really desperate now. All my friends have grandchildren.

I have five children and no grandchildren!”

I got angry and said, “Why do you want grandchildren? You don’t like your own children.

” Mum and Dad can’t even use the word “marriage” any more. Instead, they talk in euphemisms to avoid the pain the word brings. Every time I call, my mum asks, “Got any news?” Which is a euphemism for, “Have you found a husband?” When I say no, she changes the subject and says, “Well, I’m cooking a nice chicken curry for your dad.” To me, that’s a euphemism for, “It’s the end of the world, but we can’t stop eating.”