The concept of marriage is an alluring one to the sensibilities of a 5-year-old. Trust me, I’ve been there! Wrapping my mother’s fancy red and gold dupatta around myself in a sari with henna adorning my hands and bangles weighing heavily from my wrist to elbows was a very common occurrence in our household. That’s what Shaddi (marriage) was for me, a fancy dress-up party.

Now, 10 years later, if someone were to question me on the constitution of marriage, I would tell them it is a great responsibility, especially in a society such as ours, where the foremost perception of a woman is that of a homemaker.

I would say I want to be sure before making such a decision. I wouldn’t want to rush into it. I’d say I cannot see myself married before 30 at least; before establishing myself in a career of my choice. Before becoming someone more than a Mrs, I couldn’t care less that my proverbial biological clock was ticking because I know I am way more than just a breeding mare. I would much rather die than be reduced to such a status. I wonder if my Nano, Razia, considered these “befores”, was she even allowed to consider them before she was wedded to my Nana at the age of 14 and forced to leave her home in the town of Dogranwala, Rahwali to the city of poets, Lahore. She was orphaned at 13 and had left school in 3rd grade. Did she consider this all after she gave birth to 9 children and even surviving the death of one of them?

This question of mine was answered when she fought with my Nana to send my mother to college, making her the first woman in my maternal side to ever attend a college. I think she did consider this when she gave my mother away at 28 years of age after explicitly asking for her consent. She did consider all of this, which is why she made sure she was the last product of child marriages in our family. She made sure she was the last Razia Bano is her family, and for that I owe her my life.

This generational saga is what prompts me to be a supporter of online petition submitted by Bargad, a youth development organization. It demands the Government of Punjab to raise the minimum age of marriage for girls to be at least 18. Currently, it is just 16!