The odds were all too high on my parents commanding against such an atypical marriage. Children’s matrimony was one domain wherein parents enjoyed near exclusive governance. Culture, tradition, and religion enjoined children to filial obedience. And marriages made under compulsion were sometimes the upshot of such undue exercise of unconditional power. The honourable intentions of parents seeking felicity and contentment for their children were barely disputed despite events taking at times awkward turns. Like other loving and caring parents, mine wished the best of life for me, their only daughter. My fearful expectations, however, stemmed from the likelihood of my parents disqualifying Martin because he did not meet their criteria of a worthy suitor. The chances of their responding favourably to the proposal of a foreign suitor seemed slim even without the additional complication of his being divorced.
Recurrent wars, the heavy-handed sanctions of the United Nations upon Iraq in the wake of the invasion of neighbouring Kuwait, and the consequent economic disintegration produced distortions in the demography of Iraq. While society’s stronger sex was being hurled ruthlessly into the bonfire of cataclysmic wars, females were growing disproportionately larger in numbers. With such an alarmingly growing supply, not to mention the brunt of the exacerbating fiscal conditions, marriage rituals dispensed with some of their orthodox sophistication and associated flamboyance. The stringency of culture and tradition softened in recent years. Hence, the pernickety verification of suitors’ lineage and social standing waned a little. But by the standards of the day, and particularly in the eyes of refined families, being a foreign suitor and a divorced one to boot amounted to being in line for a knockout blow that would send him flying to a less than secondary place in the marriage market. In the social and cultural hierarchy, such suitors made perfect matches for widows, grass widows, and spinsters. With a lump in my throat, I slowly recognised the critical nature of my situation. I wagered, however, on my parents’ open-mindedness, which, while it stood out favourably amongst the repressive majority, seemed like my best hope of extrication from my stalemate.
Banking on my parents’ empathy and understanding, I prayed that their love for me would not crisscross with my love for Martin. But the stringency of religion put water upon the fires of my hope. Dina’s ‘enlightening’ advice was pointing relentlessly towards the bitter reality. At the same time, my parents’ approval of Martin wasn’t going to be achieved by the mere fact of his having proposed. Even If, conceding to the will of love, they were to set aside the agony of allowing their much-treasured daughter to be stripped away from their life to a remote country, other objections were readily available. “What do we know of him?” was the mildest potential herald of their dissent. Revelation of Martin’s divorced status was yet another tapestry that was pretty much anticipated to flabbergast my parents enough to incite their berating ire, “And divorced too? After all those excellent suitors you’ve turned down?” Impelled by their omnipresent sense of protection, a train of tempestuous interrogations of “how”, “when” and “why” was most certainly to ensue. Forcing me away from Martin through banning me from work was yet another likelihood to be reckoned with.
Pronounced a liability in the eyes of culture, love and matters of love, irrespective of parents’ tolerance and large-mindedness, were by and large enwrapped in suspicion that spawned worrisome disquiet and propelled detrimental consequences. However fleeting, every recounting of such postulated sequence of possible events would send a chill down my spine. And losing Martin to preposterously archaic and rigid traditions or to the overarching power of religion was an eventuality that I couldn’t afford. I was rarely free from anxiety, although I endeavoured my hardest to put on a pretence of forgetfulness. Such artifice, albeit brief, seemed useful for assuaging my worries. But it was too facile a solution for so complex a problem. The intricacy of my situation was beyond what my fledgling sapience about life could deal with. I was young and raw and inexperienced and madly in love. I was not equal to the challenge that I faced. My heart would thump wildly and my whole body would drown in shivering sweat at the mere thought of the impending confrontation with my parents. I sought refuge in the dubious palisades provided by the present moment. I was hopeful, perhaps, of a silver bullet that would magically solve my problem. No, not perhaps, but most definitely. My wishful thinking was that tomorrow would, somehow, bring about a magical solution, one that would miraculously work things out, and leave me only to enjoy life with my Martin. How and when was beyond me. And it didn’t truly matter much, so long as I had Martin in my life, so long as he was mine and around. And beyond the practical problems that besieged us, I never harboured any doubts that Martin was mine.
So why would I bother to think of hell when I was blissfully enjoying heaven. Martin's enormous love never stopped injecting new life into me. His ubiquitous warmth and tenderness wiped away all my concerns. They would all vanish like magic once I saw him stepping inside the office. One smile from his wonderfully reassuring countenance sufficed to catapult my detestable worries beyond the sun, turning life into a dream, as fabulous as could be. He, having proposed, made obvious his good intentions, and it further boosted my trust in him. Not having replied to his proposal with the expected yes, yet, was for reasons that were not attributable to his person, as he well knew. The profundity of our reciprocal love seemed to make our marriage a foregone conclusion. We surfed affectionately and unconditionally into each other’s hearts and minds. Today was fabulous. Tomorrow seemed far away, or I wished it rather to be far away. It stood for the unknown, and it dismayed me. But with Martin on my side, tomorrow did seem far away.
Nevertheless the sense of being faced with overwhelming obstacles persisted. And the solution I yearned for seemed beyond reach. Martin wasn’t going to be in Iraq forever. Sooner or later there was going to be a time when he had to leave. And it wasn’t time only that was running out; it had become way too conspicuous that Martin’s patience was also wearing alarmingly thin. Having accomplished his share of work, it was my turn now to accomplish mine. I had to find a way to sway my parents. And I had to find some way of making loose ends meet, but how?
To Be Continued.......