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Screaming in Tandem

Screaming in Tandem

Issue 98 November 2012

Ali’s mum was living in Qatar but during a trip to London still managed to introduce him to Noora from Egypt who was also on holiday in the UK.



I had recently graduated, was working as a doctor, and my mother was pestering me about getting married. My parents live in Qatar and my mother was visiting the UK and on the day of her flight back, she dragged me along to meet a potential spouse. I was told that she was visiting from Egypt and was staying at her sister’s house. When we arrived, the first people we met were Noora’s mother, sister and uncle. I warmed to them immediately and was made at ease before she made her grand entrance. She came in all smiles and after pleasantries were exchanged, we went to the other side of the room to talk in relative privacy.


Noora was beautiful and bright, and it didn’t take long for me to make my mind up, which was a good thing because my mother was in a hurry and asked me in front of everyone whether I wanted a further meeting. I gave an embarrassed nod and that was that. I dropped her at the airport and she left me to carry on with proceedings. There were doubts but I knew that was to be expected. Some diminished as we got to know each other better, and at the end of the day, marrying someone is always a bit of a dive in the dark and I felt more certain than doubtful about our compatibility. I’m a keen believer that as long as two people are not entirely mismatched and they come to marriage with sincerity, they can build solid foundations for their future love and happiness.


I visited Noora over the next few weeks and we were given the time and space to get to know each other. I admit I’m not the most talkative of people, but I am a good listener, and we got by before her inevitable return to Egypt. Before that, the decision was made and we had a low-key engagement ceremony. Noora would then return to Egypt and apply for a marriage visa there. Several weeks later, my father, mother and I travelled to Cairo and registered our marriage in order for her to apply for her visa to the UK. It took about a month for the visa to come through, which was a miracle in itself given that we had to navigate the Egyptian bureaucracy, as well as that of the UK consulate.


Noora is definitely an extrovert, while I am the opposite. I am introspective and tend not to say things directly while she is one of the most honest and matter-of-fact people I know. Strangely we don’t clash and I suspect it is because we are both pretty laid back and have a good sense of humour. I remember this one time when it was not long into our marriage and I was awoken by screams in the middle of the night. Noora had gotten out of bed and was screaming. I had not fully awoken and in my dream-like state I was trying to ask her what was wrong, but all that came out was an identical scream. So there we were screaming at each other before realising the absurd nature of the situation. It turned out she had dreamt of a massive spider descending on our bed and we soon saw the funny side. We promised not to scream in tandem again. 



Back in March 2008, I was in London visiting my sister when I met Ali’s mother at a gathering. She was very nice and I thought nothing of it at the time, but the next day, my mother told me that the lady I met was coming to visit us with her son. I wasn’t looking to get married at the time, as I had come to London as a tourist. We had had marriage proposals in the past, but my mother had politely declined all of them.


When I first met Ali, I liked him immediately. He was respectful and good-looking. I had always pictured my husband to be a doctor with dark hair and fair skin, and that was what I saw before me that day. I was very shy and felt nervous when we spoke to each other. I didn’t say much at all and didn’t really understand what he was talking about; it was all a bit of a blur. Later on, I learnt that Ali didn’t register much either and it was quite funny with the awkwardness and pressure of an alien situation. I felt comfortable with the way the first meeting went, and was happy for things to continue.

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