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Graduating Together

Graduating Together

Issue 59 August 2009

Marzyeh was young, free and ‘highly obnoxious’ but Eric was not even deterred by her famous ‘Speech’. They talk of how they formed a lasting bond.




The first thing I noticed about my future husband was his ears. To explain this oddity, I must say in my defence that, when walking into a classroom of 50 plus students, the backs of heads and ears are all that are immediately visible. As a junior in university I was shocked to see a pair of ears I didn’t recognise. To remedy this situation, I walked up to the seat next to the new head, sat down, and introduced myself.

 Just to be clear, I wasn’t looking for a husband. In fact, I was strongly against getting married. This was seven years ago. I was 17, highly obnoxious and incredibly independent. I wanted to get married sometime in the future…the distant future.

 Summer passed and the next semester we shared another class. He claims to have made his interest in me apparent, while I got the idea that he liked somebody, perhaps even somebody I knew, but as for whom I was at a loss. My continued interaction with him supported my first impression: he was a very good person. That seems like something silly to say, but in its simplicity, without any other embellishment, it was and is truly accurate.

 Things came to a head at the end of the term. One day, while we were desperately trying to meet a deadline on a project, Eric scooted his rolling-chair nearer to mine, and nervously asked how I was doing. I agitatedly replied, given the current academic situation, I was not doing well. My tone was enough to give him pause for thought; maybe he didn’t actually want to spend the rest of his life with this crotchety woman. He rolled his chair away.

 Yet, somehow, he decided to roll his chair back over for more. I think he said something to the nature of, “You know that girl that I really like? Well, it’s you.” I spent the next 12 minutes staring at him blankly without really processing and said repeatedly, “Wow.” Eventually my brain switched on and I decided to give him ‘The Speech’. I had created ‘The Speech’ when I started university. It went something like this, “In this day and age, dating is superficial. It’s no longer about finding the right person …” It lasted for 20 minutes. Word got around on campus not to ask me out because the consequences were horrific.

 Eric was a transfer student. Nobody had warned him. After the speech, the funniest thing happened. Eric – whose eyes had not glazed over – said he agreed with me. He didn’t just want to date me; he was looking for someone to spend his life with. What could I do? My perfect plan, which had served me so well in the past, was rapidly coming undone!

 I countered with the fact that I was a Muslim. I wanted to spend my life with someone who believed in the same things I did. Islam was a complex religion and understanding it would require a lot of research and soul-searching. During this time, I wouldn’t meet him. I wanted his decision to be made without dangling myself as bait.

 Strike two. He responded that he had been looking for a faith that matched his outlook on life, and he had no he had no objection to looking into Islam. Panicking, I countered that I was very close to my family. My parents would have to approve him before I would even talk to him. I tried to make this seem more intimidating by saying my parents were very protective, but it was all for naught. He said that he looked forward to meeting my parents and could I help him out with a Qur’an?

 What can you say in the face of destiny? I agreed to it, thinking that somewhere along the line he would decide that I wasn’t worth it. He never did.

 Eric is the best man I could have imagined being with. That’s not to say that there weren’t problems, but through it all he was, at his core, a good person and he dealt with everything in an upright way. More than that, he made me want to be a better person. For this reason and so many more, I consider him my ni’mah, my gift from God, and I hope that I am the same for him. 




Marzyeh and I met in college where we were both students in Computer Science; she was majoring in Electrical Engineering. I had just transferred into New Mexico State the semester before. I was sitting quietly in my first day of a junior level maths class when Marzyeh sat down in the desk next to mine. While I was taking notes, she decided to offer me some valuable advice saying that I shouldn’t waste my time writing because the lecturer was not worthwhile. It was  far better for me to use the book as learning material. I didn’t believe her and kept my attention on the professor and continued to take notes. This must have been the wrong response because she actually took the pencil out of my hand and told me that I should spend my time more fruitfully by doing the weekly crossword. Thus began our friendship.

 I wasn’t interested in Marzyeh romantically when we first met, though I was interested in getting to know her better. She was confident enough to sit down next to a total stranger and relieve me of my pencil stopping me from wasting my efforts on notes that wouldn’t matter come exam time. By the end of the semester I knew that I had found someone worth knowing. She was smart, beautiful and kind, which I found to be a rare combination. How could I not be interested?

 At first, I had no idea what to think. I had never met someone so confident and outgoing before. I was impressed with how intelligent she was, but she never tried to flaunt that intelligence. It is one of the qualities I love most about her. I wasn’t thinking of marriage when we met, however, once I had decided I was interested, I had no doubt that she was the one for me.

 She went away for the summer and promised to email me while she was gone. Unfortunately, halfway through the summer I had computer failure and lost access to my email.  When she came back she refused to talk to me for ignoring her mail over the summer.  I told her of my computer problems, and though she didn’t seem to at the time, I think she believes me now.

 We took several classes together that semester and at the end of the term I told her I was interested in her. Her response was “Wow, just wow.” She gave me a speech about how she thought dating was trite and silly, I told her that I agreed and was interested in something more substantial.

 After meeting her family, it was decided that we wouldn’t get married until after we graduated, so we were engaged for almost two years. The plans were still stressful, but having experienced some of my friends’ weddings since, I know that our wedding was easy.  I wasn’t nervous so much as excited, the nervousness was over after she said yes.
We have had our personality clashes, but they have taught us much about each other and ourselves.  We are both strong willed and I feel that through being married we have learned to listen to each other and value the other’s thoughts and opinions. Married life is not much different to what I expected, it was a little challenging at first while we worked out expectations, but I’ve always thought that being married is fantastic. Ultimately, I love my wife’s kindness, strength and intelligence, she has always inspired me to try and be a better person.


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