“I can run!” she thought. But where? She had been living all her life in her small village. She was the eldest daughter in her family, and there were four other younger sisters and a teenage brother who was sent to town to study. She also desired to study but her family could only afford the boy’s study expenses and non of the girls had a chance. In their village girls were not expected to learn to read and write, but she could self-taught herself and enjoyed reading books when he could find one. She was now 18 years old and in their culture she was considered an old maid already. Girls usually married when 14 and in her age they had a couple of kids around them.
She had refused a few suitors from her village and villages nearby. But now a new one arrived from the town and her family were determined to marry her this time. “He is rich,” her mother had said. “He is educated too. You said before you want someone educated. Think about your sisters, too.”
Yes. He appeared to be rich and handsomely dressed. He was working in one of the southern borders of Persian Gulf emirates and made himself a fortune. But he was 45 years old. Worse, he had married three years ago with a 16 years old girl. The girl had lived with him for a year and finally committed suicide. She survived and then they divorced. “I don’t like him,” she thought. “I prefer to be single all my life.”
“Is the tea ready?” her mother shouted from the sitting room. She didn’t respond. Tea was ready and she went into the room and first went to his father. He pointed to the boy’s mother, “lady first.”
The lady looked at her from head to toe and picked a cup of tea. “What a beautiful bride,” she said. “Thank you.”
She turned then toward the boy. He was looking at her as a customer. The manner of his stare reminded her of goat’s buyers, who came to buy goats from his father. For a second she forgot the attitude and smiled. Then she saw the mockery smile on the boy’s face and frowned instantly. He picked a cup and she went to serve her father and mother.
“My son was raised as an orphan,” her mother was explaining. “He has worked all these years and has made a fortune all by himself. He didn’t marry sooner because of his younger brothers and sisters.” She didn’t talk about his unsuccessful marriage and no one seemed to be interested to ask. “He sacrificed his life for his family. But now this is his own turn to marry a good girl,” she finished.
“Yes. He is self-made,” her father said. “That is important. Age is not important for men.”
During all their conversation they didn’t even ask once about her opinion. It seemed they had selected their option. Her parents knew that she would reject him. They decided to marry her this time against her will. This was a common thing in this region’s culture. People said that if you let the girls themselves choose, they always “kick at their luck”. Her parents claimed that the fate of other sisters depended to this marriage. With such a man family could hope of having more good people knock on their door to ask for other sisters’ hands. They also could send their son to live with the couple and save money that they expended on his education. It seemed that she had to sacrifice herself for her family, as the boy’s mother claimed that her son sacrificed himself for his younger brothers and sisters.
They asked the girl and the man to the only other room in the house to speak for the first and last time. For a couple of minutes, they both were silent. “I provide everything for my wife,” he finally started. “I have everything for a happy life. You don’t need to worry about anything.”
He paused for a few seconds, and it seemed that the girl decided to say nothing he continued, “I only want you to be obedient and loyal. Only …”
The girl got up suddenly. “Don’t you want to ask my decision first?” She looked straight in his eyes. In their culture, girls didn’t dare to even look at men’s faces. They always should have to be shy and look at the ground.
The man was alarmed. “You think a girl in a small village from poor family dies to marry you,” she continued. “Then travel abroad and live with you, because you have lots of money. You know my father promised me to you and all these talking is just formalities. Do you think I don’t have another option? I have.”
The girl left the room to the sitting room and then hurriedly to the kitchen. She heard they are talking in whispers but she could find out her parents were reassuring that she will finally accept to marry him. They said this is the nature of girls. “They say no first but finally they fell in love with you!”
“His first wife did suicide after one year,” she whispered to herself. In her had she held a razor. She examined it with her thumb. It was sharp enough. “I never put my foot outside this village and some villages nearby,” she talked with herself. “But I lived in a world I built in my mind from what I read in books. I have many dreams …”
Suddenly the backdoor of the kitchen to the backyard opened and light poured into the kitchen. It was night but despite this the backyard was bright. Instead of their small backyard, there was a vast garden that appeared endless. Butterflies were flying around the flowers and birds were singing on branches. She stepped outside. A foot-way continued between the trees and she was curious to go on that way. She heard screams from the kitchen. Her family gathered around something on the ground and all were crying and shouting. She didn’t care. “Let’s see what is on that way”
The way ended to a hill, that a stream was flowing down its heel. At the top of the hill was a beautiful house. All around was brightly lighted but the light didn’t come from the sun or any other sources. It seemed that everything had its intrinsic light. She continued toward the beautiful house. “I said I have another option.”