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Warning : Icy Reception Ahead

Warning : Icy Reception Ahead

Issue 58 July 2009

Remember Zeyna, that young Turkish lady I met at the matrimonial event I mentioned previously? When I met her originally, she was warm and welcoming despite having to run off after five minutes of conversation. But when I went for coffee with her and her brother to explore the possibility of marriage, that warmth went a little cold.

I emailed her three days after the matrimonial to set up a coffee meeting, inviting her brother as a chaperone. Little did I know that she came from one of those traditional families where the father and brothers are more protective over their sisters than a six-year old girl is over her newly purchased kitten.

In any case, we arranged to meet in the early afternoon. Naturally, because I am normal, my face lit up when I saw her and I smiled, as did she. She stood up, and when I put my hand out to shake hers, her brother stood up and made some grunting sound, like he was clearing his throat. She looked at him, her smile dropped, and she sat down leaving my hand hanging. The brother gave me a stern, icy look and extended his hand out to shake mine and squeezed hard like he wanted it to hurt, or maybe I’m just weak. Was I not supposed to try shaking her hand? Was I supposed to shake his first? Was I supposed to have some clue as to what that grunting noise meant? Somewhere in that whole five second exchange, I realised I should have brought my own chaperone.

“So what is your job?” the brother asked with a heavy accent that Zeyna did not have. I guess they emigrated when she was still young. “Let me give you my card,” I responded, handing him a card with the title reading ‘Dr’, which prompted another icy response. “I don’t like doctors. They make me more sick than I am.” “Yeah I agree, but you know I’m not a medical doctor, I’m a PhD doctor.” “What is PhD?” he asked with a bit of inexplicable disgust. At this point I was done being polte, I was not going to put up with a brother-in-law like this the rest of my life. The least Zeyna could have done was warn me, but even now she was looking down, still unwilling to rescue me from this conversation. I figured I would just make light of the situation. “Umm, well a PhD is kind of like a doctor of the heart.” “So you are cardiologist,” he responded. “No,” I said with a sarcastic smile, and now here comes my the chance to let myself go and speak foolishly with no inhibitions: “I am a doctor of the spiritual heart. I can help you cure the diseases in your spiritual heart. Do you have a hard heart?” He didn’t like that and looked towards his sister, emitting another grunt-like sound which at that point I realised indicated he was not happy. Can I talk to Zeyna now? Ten minutes of grilling questions later, and not a word from the girl I was meant to be considering for marriage, I gave up and asked for the bill.

Surely it’s nothing but unfair for a girl to put any guy in a situation where he has to meet members of her family in an unwelcoming setting without warning him. This is probably the fourth time in the past ten years that something like this has happened to me. Once, an Arab girl who I knew through a friend asked me to fly to Chicago to meet her family if I wanted to get to know her. I arrived at their house and the father did not even let me in to speak with either her or the rest of the family. Instead he drove me to a local café where he ordered not dinner but tea, then drove me back to my hotel. I flew to California the next morning having spent more quality time choosing food from room service. I never heard from her after that. A Pakistani girl who lived near my city pulled something similar. And now Zeyna, so friendly and warm at the matrimonial, gave me little warning about her brother, and her own reticence on the day.

New rule: the next time I arrange to meet with a marriage candidate’s family, I will make sure I get a written statement saying that I will be warmly welcomed for taking an interest in getting acquainted for the sake of marriage. And if that marriage candidate does not have the willingness or ability to secure a warm reception from her family, then maybe she is not worth the honour of being called a candidate for marriage in the first place, or at least not marriage to yours truly. Still, I learn from this as I do from all my experiences, and will not lose hope – insha-Allah it will happen when it is meant to!

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1 Comment



10 Aug 09, 17:45

maybe u put him off by trying to shake her time shake the mahrams hand and give the young lady a nod

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