Not Without My Daughter

The other day in the library, Betty Mahmoody’s Not without my daughter’ caught my eye. I had read it a few years back, but wanted to read it again, yes, I am one of those mad people who re-read books.

The last time I read it, it had moved me, but this time, I was practically in tears. I guess being a mother made me feel what she was feeling much, much more.

The mere thought that someone who you trust(or had trusted), enough to have a child with him, could turn out to be so different and would not think twice before taking away your child from you, is devastating, isn’t it? We dread anything that might take our children away from us, but how would we react when someone as close as your husband decides to do it? And even worse, when he takes you to a country where a woman has practically no say in anything at all. Where a child is always a man’s property. For a while, she was praying for her husband’s death, only to realise that on his death, her child would he his family’s property – not hers! She says, she stopped praying for that as soon as she realised that.

Betty’s chilling tale of how she managed to escape the country with her daughter,Mahtob, will stay with me for a long time. Her determination to leave with her daughter. The embassy in Iran gives her the option to leave without her daughter, which she refuses. She stays determined to leave and leave with her daughter. She explains towards the end how while in the US, she had seen another side to her husband, Moody. She had checked divorce as an option, but had backed when she realised that divorce would give her husband visiting rights at the very least, to her daughter. She decided that she had to take the risk and take her daughter to Iran at least once so that Mahtob is safe forever.

Trapped in Iran, with no friends or help, at times imprisoned in her house by Moody, she wonders if she did take the right decision. Thankfully for her, it all turned out well,in the end. It does make me wonder about how many women go through similar experiences, in countries across the world. Even in countries where laws are equal and fair, things like this could happen if the woman is not strong enough or independent enough. Betty had met another American woman in Tehran, who had accepted her fate and chose to be with her abusive husband in Iran, because she felt that she could not manage on her own, given her lack of educational qualifications.

In so many cases, in our own society, women are held hostage(so to speak) in marriages they are not happy in. While they might not be imprisoned in a physical sense, they are held captive by their lack of confidence, qualification or just the lack of societal support.

The book is thought-provoking in so many levels. It made me thank my luck that I was born where I was.