A Good Wife

A nonfiction book by Samra Zafar.

Samra Zafar

At 15, Samra Zafar had big dreams for herself. She was going to go to university, and forge her own path. Then with almost no warning, those dreams were pulled away from her when she was suddenly married to a stranger at 17 and had to leave behind her family in Pakistan to move to Canada. Her new husband and his family promised that the marriage and the move would be a fulfillment of her dream, not a betrayal of it. But as the walls of their home slowly became a prison, Samra realized the promises were empty ones.

Desperate to get out, and refusing to give up, she hatched an escape plan for herself and her two daughters. Somehow she found the strength to not only build a new future, but to walk away from her past, ignoring the pleas of her family and risking cultural isolation by divorcing her husband. (From HarperCollins)

From the book

Music was drifting up from the tent, but I couldn't find the celebration in it. Instead it sounded haunting and hollow, like a distant echo of happier times. I knew that at any moment the dancing would start. It felt surreal to be trapped up here, all alone, reduced to watching and waiting. I had always loved family weddings, and I loved the dancing most of all. Enthusiastic as I was, I had never been able to resist taking charge of the choreography and hogging the limelight during our little performances.

Sitting in a bedroom in my uncle's house in Karachi, I peered out the window at my family below. They were gathered under a tent, but the sides were open. I could see their brightly coloured clothes and sparkling jewellery. They were talking and laughing. I watched as my little sisters, Warda, Saira and Bushra, helped themselves to mithai and laddoo and other sweets that lined the enormous platteres that were being passed from person to person.

From  A Good Wife by Samra Zafar ©2019. Published by HarperCollins.

Why Samra Zafar wrote A Good Wife

"He started neglecting me. He started not spending time with me. The verbal abuse started, the name calling. Every time I would go out of the house, it would be with his parents. I never had one-on-one time with my husband. I lost that bond with him and I tried to get it back. That's what the cycle of abuse is like in the beginning. The abuser always puts the victim on a pedestal to gain that trust and love. Then the victim forever spends their time get trying to get back on the pedestal and trying to get back into the loving eyes. You're never good enough. 

There are so many in this world who are still trapped and who will continue to be unless we change things, unless we speak up.- Samra Zafar

"Abuse is never black and white. There are moments of tenderness. There are moments of love and moments of care. Every time there's an abusive episode, the next cycle is the honeymoon period. Suddenly everything seems like it's perfect. It's a perfect marriage. He's so loving, he's so kind to me. He's taking care of me. Things are going to change. That's why victims hang on to that hope and stay far longer than they need to or they should."

"There are so many in this world who are still trapped and who will continue to be unless we change things, unless we speak up. The reason I am raising my voice and breaking the silence is for the millions of silences that are still waiting to be broken." 

Read more in her interview with The Next Chapter.

Interviews with Samra Zafar

I was a teenage bride who escaped an abusive arranged marriage

4 years ago
Duration 8:22
Samra Zafar was just your average teenager living in Abu Dhabi, when her mother came to her with a proposal to marry a man she had never met. By the age of 18, Samra was married, pregnant and living with her husband and his family in Canada.
Samra Zafar talks to Shelagh Rogers about the memoir she wrote with Meg Masters, A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose.