Arranged Marriage


pic1 006Arranged Marriage Part 1

Mia was brought in front of her future husband named Youssef for their first meeting. The parents had arranged their marriage and the last details were to be finalized on that day. Mia did everything she could to contain the shock she had when she first met Youssef. He had a birth physical injury on his back causing him to have one shoulder way above the other and forcing him to have one leg that could never really touch the ground unless he would force himself which would make him push his other leg way on the side. In addition to that, one of his eyes was way bigger than the other one. A yellowish liquid was coming out of his eyes from time to time making the two extremities of the big eye to be filled with a small thick brownish powder.

Mia had heard about Youssef deformity but she would have never imagined that it was like that. She was supposed to show if not a happy face, at least a straight face but the shock of this vision was so intense that she almost fell. Her father gave her the dark look which meant that she needed to behave herself.

Youssef family was of good reputation. Mia’s father had six daughters and he had already married five of them to very good family as well and Mia was the last one to go. Although she did not have somebody else in her life, she was not prepared for the vision that was in front of her. What could she have done? Traditions were stronger than anything else. Even her brothers and her mum could not believe where their father had brought Mia. They could not face Youssef. They were doing everything they could to show some courtesy, manners and smile. Nobody could say anything at this stage. The disrespect would be so huge that none of the brothers would risk saying anything. The arrangement of the marriage had been so well advanced that no one would dare cancel it. It was the traditions. They therefore all stayed and fixed everything for the wedding date.

After eating and everybody managed to put a smile on their face and to dissipate the awkwardness and embarrassment of their first look at Youssef, the ambiance was almost relaxed. They almost accommodated themselves with the presence of Youssef.

Tears were all over the eyes of Youssef mother. Since her son was born, she went through many difficulties to keep him alive and to stay strong when she was mocked by everyone. She did her best to bring him up to this point. She had always been certain that no families would dare send their daughters to him. She had always worried that nobody would take care of him when she was not going to be around. It is true that he would have lived in his brothers’ house but it would have been hard for him to live in these conditions. Even though they could be angels, the way his sister in-laws would have taken care of him would not have been the same a wife could and had to take care of him in their traditions.

When Mia’s father approached them for Youssef, they could not believe their ears and their eyes. They had never expected something like that to happen. When Youssef mum heard the news, she sent money to the mosk and pray for Mia’s family. She told them it was just God who sent them. She remembered how painful she used to be when she was thinking of Youssef loneliness and how worry she was for his future. Letting him go was letting go of the time, effort, patience and especially the difficulties she had to raise and love him no matter how he looked. She had learnt to do that along the years and she was proud of being able to do it. She would have never imagined herself to be capable of doing such a thing but she did. She took pride in achieving that.

The marriage with Mia was a double recognition. First of all, it was showing that the effort she invested into raising him paid because somebody else was ready to have him in their family. Second of all, it meant that he was able to be loved. She was not cursed. Her child in spite of all his problems could have a normal life. Being and loving Youssef were the most difficult thing she had to do in her life.

The tears she had were the one of fear that maybe his wife would not have the patience and ability to love the way she did. Although she was happy to see that another woman would take care of him, would love him, would deal with his problems, she could not help thinking that what if his wife would not be able to handle it? What if his condition would be too difficult for her to bear? What if she did not know or want to do it? After all, she had accustomed Youssef with the greatest care and attention a kid could have. How would he react if his wife would not treat him well? How would he defend himself? What if they were just using his name without caring for him? Who would be there to defend him like she had always done? All those questions were turning in her head.

She was also crying because she was anticipating the difficulties Mia would have to face with her son. Marriage was already a difficult thing in itself but when you added Youssef condition, it was only adding to the soup of problem she thought. She was looking at all those and her eyes would fill up with tears.

Arranged Marriage Part 2

Soon after they ate, everybody went in the garden and chatted a bite. Youssef came close to Mia. They went in a corner of the garden where they could be alone and they sat on a bench. Youssef told her with a hesitant voice that it was unfortunate for her that she had to marry somebody like him. In order for her to be used to his deformity, he asked her to look at him closer and to not be afraid. With time, she would be less scared and maybe one day, she might accept his condition.

He told her that the moment he really looked at himself in the mirror closed up, after going through each detail of his body day after day, seeing how he looked like when he was walking, the way his body was moving, what was different about him compare to the others, he was able to slowly accept his body. It was not the one he wanted to be in but it was the one he had. Beside, everybody was doing so many efforts around him in his family to make him comfortable that he could not do otherwise than to accept his body and make the best out of it. He looked at her and said that he was sorry that she had to be the one who would bear him and his situation. He knew it was not an easy one especially if you had not been around him before. He knew he was not the typical man any girl would dream about but he had learnt with time that there was no point in fighting it because it only add to the difficulty and the pity people feel about him.

If it would have been his choice in life, he would have never brought somebody else into his problems. Why should he make a woman suffer because of him? He would have been amply satisfied to be on his own but then he realized that the members of his family would not have been happy about it. They fought so much for him to have a regular life that they were not going to leave him alone without a wife. They all deserved to see him settled. They had work so hard that he felt he could not let them down. If he would tell them that he did not want to get married, they would have been so disappointed and beaten down that they would feel that all the efforts they put were in vain. They would have felt as if they have failed. It was not a feeling he was prepared to face. He decided therefore to go along with the marriage since it was the reward his family seemed to want. They had fought for it, they deserved to see him married and he would not deprive them of their winning prize. He was a good son and he would do what he was supposed to do. His family would be happy and the pain they went through would have a justification: he was getting married and he would have a regular life. This is what they wanted and this is what he was ready to give them.

Youssef had thought of the other side of the story. What about what he wanted? He wanted to be alone. He wanted to live alone with nobody around him. His family was against it. They saw it as failure for them, as an imprisonment of himself as if he was rejected from the outside world. If he would go through that path, they had often told him that, it would be as if they were unsuccessful at inserting him inside society.

Living alone was equivalent for them to a jail that he locked himself in due to the looks of others. By doing that, he would have told them that all their efforts to stand with him everywhere at all times, to make sure that he felt included and part of the family and the difficulty they had to endure when they were facing the others who either had pity or were smiling at them, laughing at them, were amused by his situation, or were embarrassed for them or were even mocking them and many others things were all for nothing. None of the members of his family could accept that.

They made it clear to him that because they sacrificed and face so many troubles for him, he could not choose to hide himself. It would be as if those people had won and much of what his family did was zero. They would take it as if the love and effort they did was rejected by the person who benefited the most. They lived for him. How could he reject them like that? He had a duty toward them.

Living the life they wanted him to live was the reward he was going to give them. He had to do it because if he chose not to, he would be seen as an ungrateful son. Everybody in the city knew how his family had stood up for him. Each member of the family was proud of having done that and they made certain everybody knew it. They told everybody what they were expecting of him and they made sure that all their friends and enemies knew what they wanted as if they were challenging life to get what they wanted from it.

If he would not choose not to marry Mia, it would be an act of humiliation for his family and above all an act of ungratefulness for him and at the end a shameful situation for him to be in. He would be rejected both by his family and the city for being uncaring to his family after everything they had done for him and a symbol of what a son should not be for the whole city and community.

Why should he go through that? Wasn’t the pain of his deformity enough to bear? Did he have to fight against all those as well? He became the object of pride for his family even though he never asked for that. Something that was supposed to be taken care inside the intimacy of his family as a special situation became a challenge to have a normal life. Why his family did everything they could to deny him the right to be different? Why did he have to be like the others when he was obviously not like the others? Why his family made it a point of honour to make him be like every one else when it was way clear that he was struggling and suffering to meet their expectations? Why were they blind? Why didn’t they want to see that they were torturing him by forcing him to be something he was not? Why did they think that they should give him things without asking his opinion? Why did they think that they knew better than him what was good for him?

All those questions were left unanswered. The only thing Youssef knew was that he was going to get married and reinforced the ego of his family. An ego that was not even his. He did not even believe in that ego. He did not even want to support it but he would do it. He was never given a chance to be himself. He did not even know that he could be something else. He knew only one thing and it was his family and the expectations they had for him. They had cared for him, now it was time for him to deliver and he would do it.

He blamed the situation on himself but what could he have done? He never believed in his family vision of life but they forced him to believe in it. Today, he had to keep on going although it was not what he wanted. He would marry Mia so that everybody would be relieved. Their ego would be boosted and they would be happy for a while until they come and ask him for something else. He had the duty to be what his family wanted him to be. They could not envision a different outcome for him. Anything less than that would be considered as a catastrophe for them.

It was not about his happiness. It was not about the happiness of anybody in his family. It was not even for his family. It was about the idea they had about themselves. They saw themselves as unique, strong, united, proud and not scared of anything. When Youssef was born, it was such a shock. They almost lost it. If it would not have been for those ideas they carried in their family, they would not have recovered. The only way for them to get out of this problematic situation from the top was to make Youssef part of that “grandiose” idea. It reinforced the idea of who they are.

They built themselves around Youssef. He did not belong to him. He belonged to them. He fought to be what they wanted not what he wanted. The idea they had of themselves was demanding more and more to Youssef. It pushed them to require even more things from him than any normal kid would do just to prove that he was normal.

All the things he did never brought him happiness and he knew it. He could not state that because happiness was not the priority.  It was for baby. Strong families went beyond happiness. They lived for ideas and if by any chance they happened to be happy, it was a bonus not the goal.

Meeting the expectations of those ideas was the only problem they allowed themselves to discuss and Youssef marriage was one of the steps that would lead there. The ideas would be happy even though the people who carried them were miserable while they were supporting them. There was also a sense of happiness to be the vehicle through which those ideas were expressed. It was too bad the price to live up to the ideas was that high. They all had sacrificed themselves for something that was not tangible. They all suffered for it and Youssef thought that he could not let them down. The ideas they were living for were torturing them all.

Arranged Marriage Part 3 and Final Part

Mia had listened to him when he was talking and when he stopped, she looked at him. She did not know if she should feel sorry for him or hateful of him. She did not want to get married to him and he did not want to get married at all but the circumstances of their traditions had put them together to live their live together regardless of what they wanted. A decision had been taken and they were supposed to live by it. Mia told him that she had realized after hearing him that it was not even the ideas which were controlling them. If it was those ideas that were moving them, they would have asked them what we really wanted to do and none of them would be in this situation. Unfortunately, their parents’ motivation was somewhere else.

They fed us in order for us to give them something in return. They raised us to take something out of us. They see us as an investment. They would never tell us that directly because they do not see it that way but the moment we try to do what we want and it goes against what they had in mind, they would remind us how much we own them, how many sacrifices they did to support us, how much we depended on them and they provided us with everything.

If we keep on disobeying, they would be violent against us for our best interest as always. They would tell us how much we betrayed them and how hurt they are by our attitude. The pain they would feel will only serve as reminder for us of how undeserval kids we are. After everything they have done for us, we have the gust to disobey, to betray, to abandon, to be ungrateful and to let them down.

Indeed this was what all this raising kids was all about. It was all about being obedient to them. I am going to give you something and you are going to do everything I want in return. The deal was all too clear. We are only coming to realize it now and we have nothing to fight against it. Resisting their demands is like agreeing to be condemned for eternity for betraying our parents. God only knows how weak we are in front of that argument. The rebuttals we could come up with if we ever have the courage to do so, would immediately sign our curse till the end of time.

The mechanic is working very well. It has been put in place since the beginning of time and it has sucked the best of us into it. Everybody is reproducing it either because they do not know anything else or they feel like it is only normal that their children go through what they have been to. It is a way for them to grow up. Sometimes they are getting even with their own. Somebody has to pay for what they had to swallow in the past and it their children.

When they have a taste of the power they have when they have children, they forget about the pain they went through when that power was enforced on them. They are ready to do whatever it takes to rule. The little sense of power they have and feel will not be abandoned. There is no way, they would let it go.

They have so little occasion to feel that they have power in their life that their children are the perfect playground where they will exercise their rights and implement their power. They have a chance to decide and dominate. Most children when they become adults and have children of their own, they understand the responsibility and the power they have and instead of remembering how hurt they were when they had to obey, they only think of how good it feels to be obeyed. They therefore use the same tactic as their parents did. They take those famous ideas of unity, nobility, family, respect and love to impose their will.

Mia took his hands and told him that today it was their time to play that game. His deformity had nothing to do with the situation. It is true that it was a circumstance that was not facilitating the process but it was a minor one. She added that she would have felt the same thing even if the person was not in his physical condition and she did not want him to worry too much about it. She would adapt very easily because she had been well raised. She is supposed to love her husband no matter what he looks like and he does. She would find in her the way to love him because she was designed for it.

It was true that it was not exactly what she had in mind but it was what according to the scriptures what God wanted for her since her parents were only used by God to put her in this situation. She would make the best out of it. She had seen many others women do the same thing in her family, in her neighbourhood and in the city. She would be no exception to that rule. She knew the game very well.

She got carried away with the idea of marriage that people put in her head even though, she could see with her own eyes that it had nothing to do with what she was reading or the stories people were telling her. She managed somehow to close her eyes to what she was seeing and to dream of something that would be completely different for her. Today, she had difficulty to forgive herself for thinking that she would have it better than the others women did. She knew that even this feeling she had about herself would slowly go.

Reality was in front of her. Instead of looking at it and learnt from it, she decided to believe the stories that were in the books. All her dreams crumbled she came to visit her future husband and she needed to comeback to reality as soon as possible. She could no longer let herself dream. Her life and her future husband life were being decided as they were speaking. They both had to accept right away that things were they way they were and they had to deal with them. If they would not, they would spend a lot of time hating each other for something they were not responsible of instead of understanding what was going on and trying to move with the wind.

Youssef told her that he had thought of the way he wanted this marriage to be. His physical condition did not allow him to have many physical activities. Therefore, he would not bother her with sexual desires a lot. He had experienced it before and he did not feel comfortable doing it but he would do what he had to do.

He told her that he had one passion that kept him busy and away from the world. It was calligraphy. He had developed his art and most of his clients were extremely rich people. Nobody knew about it except few individuals because he did not want his name to be famous. He did not want to have too many clients. He only wanted to do the work that would please him. He told her that the money was good. There will be more than they would need. He would do his best to be of any help to her and to facilitate her life.

He asked her if she wanted something and she replied that she would see it along the way. She asked how many children he wanted and he answered that he would see it along the way.

They looked at each other and he said that they should probably join the others who were already back in the living room. When they arrived, both of their parents looked at them and they smiled. They knew the marriage had been arranged.

 

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