Dodging the Bullet

Warning: this is a rant. I’ll try and curb the sarcasm, but, in their very eloquent words, ‘enough is enough.’

My extended family believes that it is their personal duty to see me happily married, all protests from me notwithstanding, because, culturally, that’s what’s expected of me. No, contrary to what I may say, the only ‘cure’ for me is marriage. It settles a person down, or so I’ve been told. Gives them wisdom, maturity, and, from what I can tell, a shitload of positive characteristics that can not, contrary to popular belief, be achieved in any other way – such as continuing ones education or finding a fulfilling job. No. The attainment of such desirable characteristics may be achieved only through marriage. And, apparently, I’m in desperate need of such characteristics.

And so, the past two going on three years have been littered with marriage proposal after marriage proposal after goddamned marriage proposal. By now, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that I couldn’t care less about marriage, proposals, or my extended family and, as such, have been trying very, very, very hard not to bore you with the details of failed matches; I’d hate to put anyone else through the torment of having to listen to me whine and drone about the resulting horror and awkwardness. I do slip up occasionally, though, and end up talking the ear off the person unfortunate enough to be sitting in front of me at the time being – sorry D! Usually though, I manage to grin and bear it, even when my parents insist that rejecting proposed suitors without first giving them a chance to woo me, or at the very least, convince me of their, in my opinion very dubious, intentions is a faulty form of thinking and that all eligibles must be met, at the very least, with a meeting. I know my parents want what’s best for me and whatnot and their only reasons are that they would like to see me happy. I am happy. You want to see me happier? You could try giving me a car. Or that laptop I want. I’ll even settle for that Escada perfume.

Back to the point: my extended family has had enough. They’ve given up all pretenses of finesse or selection and have been literally throwing man after man at my hapless head regardless of, well, anything barring gender and martial status – they’ve yet to hit the widowers, divorcés, or transsexuals, but at the rate they’re going they’re bound to get there soon – in hopes of me either meeting my match, or, that failing, realizing I’m outnumbered and throwing in the towel. And I have reason to believe it’s the second they’re banking on as the last three men have nothing, absolutely nothing, that would make me even consider the idea. And, for the sake of well, I’m not quite sure why – maybe self-perseverance? an inherited Arabic need to tie the knot? I’ll have to look into that – I find myself putting up with this crap.

I do have lines, however, that I insist aren’t crossed in the pursuit of uniting me in holy matrimony with your intended. For example, I insist that the picture I allowed you to take of me is not seen by any other than your eyes – I won’t be making that mistake again – or you not show your brother/cousin/uncle the video of his sisters wedding in which I, hijab-less, am present – seriously, do you people have no fear of God? I also insist you don’t call my house and trash me.

Because apparently I’m too self-centered, my standards are idealistic, I’m too Canadian – this said in a way that made it clear it was meant as an insult and taking it any other way would be deluding myself – I’m ungrateful, half the girls would be thanking them and not embarrassing them by refusing to meet these guys, and, over all, it’s all my fault. Enough is enough! They, my extended family, have been doing their familial duty and beyond, while ungrateful me has been shirking hers in favor of meeting some guy that’ll end up putting my family’s collective face in the mud. I will blacken their faces – meaning bring shame to the family name. Everyone and their mother now believe I have a boyfriend/lover. The other half are firm believers that I am already engaged to someone, thanks to a rumor that someone set circulating and won’t take back in hopes of scaring off any potential competition. Hate to break it to you kid, but it’s not happening. But you did do me a favor, as the proposals from anyone not through my extended family and, therefore, deluded into believing yours truly’s engaged status have decreased to the point of near non-existence – there are still those who know nothing of this ‘fiancée’ and insist of trying their luck – so thank you. Nevertheless, I won’t marry you.

Maybe I’m being unfair. Maybe I should apologize? For not seeing marriage as the ultimate fulfillment to my needs? I won’t lie to you. I have considered giving in, and once actually teetered on the edge of acceptance, but that same sense of self-perseverance – or whatever it is – warned me that I was making a decision for all the wrong reasons. I not so gracefully bowed out, and have since been avoiding marriage like the plague.

Or maybe I should blame my mother? Who didn’t raise me to believe that marriage was the sole center of my universe around which my life is to revolve and till then my life will be dismally incomplete? Who didn’t buy me trays/plates/house-ware/lingerie at an early age and tell me that I could use them when I got married, the proverbial dangling carrot to provide incentive and purpose?

Or maybe I could blame growing up in Canada? For ‘showing me’ the other side?

Or Islam? For putting ideas of personal choice and *gasp* that a woman can propose to a man in my head?

I’m not sure who’s to blame for this, well, impasse my extended family and I are at. I’m not searching for a Romeo and Juliet story or, more modernly, an Edward and Bella story – because well, I don’t want to end up dead, and I certainly don’t believe in vampires – and I don’t have ideas of only a convert/non-Syrian/non-Muslim – etc, etc – suiting me. I do, however, have a game plan for my life in mind, and I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but marriage at twenty doesn’t factor in. Especially not to an uneducated/previous drunkard/living off his dad/jobless/shit broke/abusive/not practicing Muslim man. My ‘idealistic’ standards remain firm on those counts.

And when I’m completely honest, I don’t want to be the girl that went to Syria and got married. I’ve seen it all too often, where she has dreams and plans, but along comes this guy and next thing you know, her life is put on the backburner for his. That’s bullshit. And I’ve seen the other scenario, where the girl gets dumped at the airport or shortly thereafter. I’ve had a man related to me ask me to arrange an ‘agreement’ with another Syrian-Canadian girl I knew. But that is another topic, certainly one deserving of its own post as it caused me no little distress and horror.

On the other hand, I will say that I have seen many successful ‘arranged’ marriages, not least of which is my parents’. They are my inspiration. That or my downfall. Thanks guys. So I don’t profess to discredit all arranged marriages. I do however retain the right to marry, be it arranged or otherwise, on my own terms.

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17 Comments

Filed under Canada, Cultural Observations, Family Matters, Head-Bangers, islam, Personal, Rant, Syria

17 responses to “Dodging the Bullet

  1. I’m really disappointed in this post. Seeing as you’re Shaami I expected that after all the years of listening to Nancy Ajram and other singers you’d be dying for the day when you’d find your dream man and could say “ya ‘albee…ya habeebi..ana b’hibuk katheer”.

    Tsk, tsk, tsk.

    On a serious note, relax, you’ll get married if and when Allah wills.

  2. HAha at faatih’s comment. Yea…just keep dodging the bullet…till it feels right inshaAllah!

  3. You are a lucky girl, indeed, to have so many elders looking after you with respect to potential marriage partners! If you are truly not ready, why not agree to meet a few more of them, just to appease those who love you? No harm could come of it, because you will certainly not cave in to pressure. Maybe they’ll begin to understand that you do not have a lover, and that you shall wait as long as you please before choosing someone, and –this is most important– he will satisfy your criteria, not theirs.

    You know who you want. You’ll recognize him, and he may just be languishing in the line-up.

  4. Also, take heed for the criteria of marriage in Islam – if you come across someone pious/righteous (good religion) in shaa Allah, dont let the opportunity pass you up, because he will be the one to take care of you and love you as no other 😉 While there are many things we think can fulfill us, in my experience, everything else will fade and is a deception really, the only true path to success lies in our Islam.

    May Allah guide you to that which is best, ameen x

  5. faatih – LOL! Thaaaanks =P
    I hate to break it to you though, but ‘ya albi, ya habeebi’ are tame. Shwam are renowned for their endearments. Ya tagh rasee, Titla3 3ala abrii, itkafeny, and (my all time favorite) tishkol asee are more their style. 😉

    Mona – I am and I will. I see nothing wrong with not wanting to get married at a certain point in time.

    Marahm – To be honest, I haven’t thought of it that way. I’ve been thinking of it more in terms that their actions scream of anachronism – like some bad throwback to the Victorian period (or beyond!) in the 21st century.
    But thank you for the perspective! It’s what I have been doing and, most likely, what I will continue to do. The purpose of this post was to let off steam.

    Umm Travis – No doubt! But when I remind them of that, they’re quick to remind me that no one is perfect. And that many a man learned the error of his ways after marriage (for reference see the characteristics associated with holy matrimony). After all, I’m not perfect I am? And I want to change for the better, don’t I?
    Thank for the prayer, sister. Ameen for us all, inshAllah=)

  6. S&S.. I hope you get some marriage proposals.. obviously, you do want to get married but not enough suitors are knocking! I’ll keep you in my prayers! :p May the road to your house be lined up with those who will kiss your feet and treat you as a queen.. 😉

    But seriously.. the way i see it.. you belong in Canada with a Syrian Canadian.. or at least Arab Canadian! Otherwise you may end up becoming the second or 3rd? God forbid.. 🙂

    More power to you! You know what you want.. but also, I’m worried about you.. after watching Bab el Hara, we know that once you’re in your 20’s and unmarried, then you’re probably too old for marriage, right? 🙂

    Maybe I should quit here…

    ATW

  7. Way to stick by your convictions and not give in for the sake of pleasing the extended family! I applaud you for that and wish you well as you dodge those attempts at matchmaking. As you concluded, marry on your own terms. YOU are the one who has to put up with the man. Not your extended family.

  8. Oh wow. Hello twin!

    After reading the responses above, I have little to say except that I agree. When the right man comes along, you’ll know it, inshaAllah.

    *hugs*

    Specs.

  9. no2wars

    Listen ask them to find someone for me…… I suggest forced arranged marriages for divorcees over 35 (he he )

  10. ATW – You’ll pray for me? Really? Aww shucks! I was thinking, though, since it’s obviously too late for me and all, maybe I’ll send ALL MY GUYS over to you ATW, *grin*
    So, may the road to YOUR house be lined up with those who will kiss YOUR feet and treat YOU as a queen. (I really like that line btw =P)

    Susanne430 – THANK YOU! *with emphasis* That means a lot, especially coming after ATW’s comment =P

    Specs – LOL! Twin indeed!! Thank you *hugs back*

    no2wars – If you’re up to it, I’m game. Just say the word I’ll have ’em knocking your door down in no time. Well, flooding your inbox is more like it… but you get the point;)

  11. SooSoo

    Hi,

    I stumbled on your blog through Organica’s and I just wanted to say WOW! A Syrian who grew up in North America and who now lives in Syria… I think Allah swt led me to this blog lol! I actually wanted to go live in Syria long term and I had some fear about what you describe in this entry: that the extended fam would be all over trying to marry me off. I’m a bit older than you though, I’m in my 20’s though, and unmarried, so that’s a huge “problem” for Syrians as we both know 😉 Women should be married by 16, right? 😉

    So did your entire family move to Syria recently or did you go first and they followed? I’m so curious. How is the day-to-day? Do they not see you as Syrian but more Canadian? When I went to Syria, my cousins and family all considered me American and not really Syrian… I didn’t blend in like I thought I would, though I don’t wear hijab so that was definitely part of it. There’s just so much that you don’t buy into when you grow up outside of Arab culture. Anyhow this is long, I hope I can ask you more questions without boring you.

  12. Aww! No worries! I definitely wish I had someone to ask way back when.

    Quick recap: Moving was (shockingly enough) my choice. I had the whole “you don’t know where you’re going till you know where you’ve been” idea in my head. I knew next to nothing about Syrian culture, and I barely spoke/understood Arabic. the fact that I had an entire family I knew nothing of killed me. So my mum and I came down for a summer visit, to test the waters. She went back and I stayed on, alone, for two very trying months. Trying because, to answer your next question, day to day life here is HARD. Each day is a struggle. You’re dealing with a completely different mentality and way of life, and until you get used to it, you’re going to face a lot of struggles. Add to that the fact they will always see you as Canadian… or in your case American. I once had a lady comment that even the way I drank water was distinctly Canadian. I still have no clue what she meant, but there you have it.

    So ameen to not buying into Arabic culture! Funny thing is, you come here with ideas that you’ll be coming ‘home,’ where all those idiosyncrasies of yours that weren’t understood in North America’ll finally be understood, only to realize that you’re as alien here as you were there. If not more so.

    I’ve come accept the fact that we’re culturally homeless. Even if we were born and breed North American, if we choose to hang on to and practice our religion we’ll always be different. Coming here, the same is true. With our North American ideas and, shockingly enough, practicing our religion we stick out like sore thumbs!! Syrians are undergoing a revolution of sorts against the ‘old ways,’ and more often than not they’re foregoing Islam in the name of modernity. As though it’s an either or distinction and never shall the two meet!

    But, having said all that, I don’t think I’d be able to give it up! As another blogger recently said, living here is like a drug. I love it and I’d miss it sorely if I had to leave, marriage proposals and day to day life notwithstanding. And yes, they will do everything in their power to see you married. First it’ll be your first cousins. Then the second cousins. Then far out family, then close family friends. And so on and so forth. Ugh.

    This made me realize that I should make a commitment to showing the good side of Syria! You wouldn’t think so from my posts, but living here is amazing

    Wow. How’s that for a long reply ;). If you have any more questions, feel free to ask! For real =D

  13. I enjoyed reading what you wrote about living in Syria. In what ways do you find living there “amazing”? I am truly curious! 🙂 Thanks!

    Your blog is so interesting! I really like your sense of humor. 😀

  14. Thanks Susanne!! How is Syria amazing? Hmm…. I think you’ve just given me a post idea. Lol. About time, too. I”ll get on that, inshAllah. I hope you’ll like it =)

  15. Soosoo

    Wow, thanks for your response. I want to copy and paste everything you said because I *know* it’s true in my head and heart but hearing (i mean seeing lol!) someone else say it just makes it one more chance for me to digest it before I take any concrete action. Can I ask what you are doing there? Are you working or studying? Or do you simply live there with your family ? I’m sorry if I’m not phrasing things as delicately as I should, I’m just thirsting for any info you can give me.

    Today, I got a huge wake up call about my Arabic: someone like me, a Syrian who was born here and grew up here his entire life, was reading an Arabic poem to an audience and I cringed at his pronunciation… he had a very American accent. Then I realized that he had had more opportunities to visit Syria, went to an Islamic school and so on whereas I hadn’t–could my Arabic be just as bad or worse? I asked my mom and she said that my accent was worse. I was devastated! I wanted to cry right there… what do I have from my culture and my “homeland” so to speak if I don’t even have a half-way decent grasp of the language.

    For me, this is all new, being so into Syria and actually wanting to live there. My entire life I’ve thought of myself as American who happens to be Arab and that I could never make it in Syria and so on. But then I started really practicing after years of just wanting to practice. Then came wanting to wear hijab and insha’Allah I’m going towards it and it’s then that I began to realize how little I have in common with the mainstream here and I convinced myself that I belong with my people in Syria where I can wear hijab without worrying about fitting in or employment or harassment and so on… I thought, “Why should I subject myself to being treated as foreign and as an outsider just because of my clothing?” Actually, I heard that treatment of hijabis is better in Canada than it is here in the U.S. but I’ll leave that up to you to let me know if you’ve been here and felt a difference. But to add to that, I know in Syria they actually force you to pull your hijab off in public buildings and in schools and such, at least that was the way it was for my mom and my cousins my age, too. At least though I would feel secure just going about daily life, or so I imagine.

    It is disheartening to see the breakdown of Islam in Syrian society, if the Syrian dramas are accurate in reflecting the change, that is. I feel that they are, since t.v. doesn’t lead revolutions, it just reflects them, but I don’t know what the reality on the ground is.

    Thank you so much for responding, I hope we can keep corresponding on this issue. I’m sorry I haven’t read much of your blog besides this first page, so if you’ve answered any of these topics and questions before, then please point me to them.

    One last thing, I can totally identify with the ache you describe when you think about leaving Syria… I have something similar going on when I hear people speak shaami or when I see images on t.v. It is just literally an intense longing that I didn’t know I could feel about someplace I barely know.

  16. I’m going to have to get back to you because any reply’ll likely exceed comment limits and qualify as a full blown post, lol. So I’ll be posting about some of this soon, inshAllah.
    Hope you stick around for the answer 😉 And you’re very welcome!!
    Btw. I really like “t.v. doesn’t lead revolutions, it just reflects them” =)

  17. SooSoo

    Salaams again

    Ok, I was actually going to ask if I could keep in touch with you via e-mail instead. The one I typed in here is fine, I’ll just have to remember to check it. In any case, I have your blog bookmarked and will keep reading Insha’Allah. 🙂 Take care.

    OH and I wish I could take credit for that line, but it’s an idea I found in an article on 50’s television shows. I’ve found it to be very true, especially when I watch some of the shows that were on when I was a kid vs. the shows that are on now. Sorry to say that things have gotten worse in terms of content from when I was a kid. But anyhow, until later insha’Allah 🙂

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