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Life continually presents us with various difficulties and surprises. We have to deal with these incidents and how we respond determines if our lives become miserable or joyous. When faced with a difficult choice in my life, I simply ask myself which is the best alternative—one of the most significant decisions I have had to make in my life concerned about my marriage. Unlike in Western culture, where couples choose their partners, the most common way of getting married in my culture involves the mother of the groom selecting a bride for her son. This is what happened to me when one day, a woman started communicating with my mother in the hope that she would get me for her son. Being a young person, I was very apprehensive and very fearful of this development.
News of a Wedding
It all began in May 2012 when a woman named Moneera called my mother to arrange a meeting. She informed my mother that she had a son who was seeking a bride. They arranged for Moneera to visit my mother at our house. When my mother gave me this news, I was filled with fear, for I was not considering marriage. While I planned to get married someday, this was to be in the distant future when I would be mature and sure of what I wanted in life. I requested my mother to give me some time to think about the issue. She was very understanding and made it clear that I had complete freedom to decide on whether I wanted to get married or not.
After thinking hard about the matter for a few days, I informed my mother that I would give it a try. I also told her that I would only agree to the marriage if I was comfortable with my prospective husband. My mother smiled at me and said to me that she understood the uncertainty I felt. She reminded me that she would support any decision I made. My mother was right about the confusion I felt. At that time, there was a war inside me, with a part of me wanting to try a new life while another part wanted to remain in the familiar environment of my parents’ home. I was thankful that my mother understood what was going on inside me.
On the arranged date, Moneera and her son came to our house. My family greeted them in the traditional way, which involves offering a cup of Arabic coffee with sweets followed by a cup of tea with pies (Zuhur 262). By the time we were settling for the talks, I was so nervous that I could not hold my cup without spilling the tea. To begin with, it was a new experience for me to sit in the presence of a man who was not related to me. Zuhur acknowledges that in Saudi culture, women are segregated from all men who are not closely related to them (262). From my observations, Moneera’s son was nice and polite. I, therefore, liked him and felt comfortable with the proposal. By the end of the day, we had reached an agreement on when a wedding would take place.
In three weeks’ time, my wedding day arrived. I vividly remember the night before the wedding. I could barely sleep, and I had many anxious thoughts about an unknown future. At that point, I correctly understood why many brides and bridegrooms run away on the day before their wedding. However, I did not do anything as dramatic as running away. I woke up early to prepare for my big day. I went to the beauty parlor to have my wedding makeup applied and also have a massage to relax me. After this, I went to the hall that was the venue for the wedding ceremony.
On my arrival, I was greeted by both my family and my husband’s family. Everybody was dressed colorfully and in a celebratory mood. The ceremony began with traditional music, which was produced by drums. Walking down the aisle was a memorable experience for me. As befits any worthwhile wedding, the bride was the most stunningly dressed person. My wedding dress was snow-white with an intricate lace with tiny pearls along the collar. It had a long train that made me feel like a princess in a movie. In addition to this, I clutched in front of my chest a white heart-shaped bouquet. The hall was elaborately decorated, and as I walked down, I could see balloons and streamers fluttering around the railing and pillars.
A familiar ritual in Saudi Arabian weddings is for all members of the family to support the new couple before the reception can begin. While engaging in this ritual, my husband and I had to walk down the aisle again to the sound of a classical song. This time around, I was afraid that I would trip and fall due to the attention of the many guests. This fear made me even more worried, and I soon feel sick. My mother had to bring me water and some juice to calm me down. Apart from this incident, the ceremony was perfect, and I did not fall. However, I was tense as my six-year-old sister Jinan kept crying. She was afraid that she would never see me again. At that time, I didn’t know whether to reassure her or call along with her. I settled on just hugging her tight while fighting to hold back the tears that were in my eyes.
At the end of the ceremony, my family and the guests greeted each other. They stopped to praise us for having presented a grand ceremony. This congratulating was done in separate rooms for the women and men since the Saudi Culture promotes segregation of the sexes in accordance with Islam (Zuhur 207). I was happy that everybody had much enjoyed the ceremony. The reception was beautiful, with traditional Arabic music being played and a lot of food offered.
After the reception, the wedding was over, and we had to leave the hall. At that moment, I had a bad feeling since it was time for me to say goodbye to everyone, including my friends, siblings, and parents. I was to travel on the night of my wedding to Spain. I would not see any of my family or friends for at least one year. This thought scared me, and I started weeping loudly. My little sister also broke down and told me that she would miss me and always remember me. This greatly saddened me, but I could do nothing but say goodbye.
While my family was preparing to leave, I changed from my wedding dress in regular clothes. In the company of my new husband, I made my way to the airport for our flight to Spain. So I began my journey into marriage by traveling to a new country. While I missed my family very much, I was also curious about my new life ahead with my husband. Our first days together were interesting since we did not know each other. I remember that at first, I could not even look straight into his eyes. However, everything turned out fine, and I am glad that I married this man.
Zuhur, Sherifa. Saudi Arabia. NY: ABC-CLIO, 2011. Print.