Targeted Age Group:: 18+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I am no writer. You will not see any articulate phrases or any profound similes or metaphors in this book, just plain, direct thoughts with absolutely no hidden meanings or messages. The reason I say this is due to the fact that I am proudly to say that I am a chemist, or at least I think I am, or at least I am aiming to be so – a professional chemist. Apart from being an extremely “successful” chemist, I am a wife and a mother. Being a wife is one thing but being a Middle Eastern wife is a completely different thing. So this is the aim of this book; the daily hazards of a Middle Eastern wife will be candidly revealed.
Fearlessly, I will present the different cultures and traditions a Middle Eastern wife will most probably experience; referring particularly to an Egyptian experience. I do not consider myself a typical Middle Eastern wife. There are a lot of other Middle Eastern women who are more “typical” than me. Well, it actually depends on how one defines the word “typical,” so I will leave that to the reader to decide. I have lived most of my life outside of Egypt. My father is a diplomat so we have lived all around. I have lived in Bahrain, England, Nigeria, Denmark and finally Dubai. I was an infant in Bahrain so that does not count since I was unaware of any of my surroundings.
The other countries though, I was quite aware of my immediate surroundings. For some people, traveling around all their lives may not be a very desirable way of life but my mum always used to tell me that any place I end up living in, I should absorb the good energy around me and exclude the bad energy (my mother is a Chinese acupuncturist so she loves talking about energy). And that is what I did, anywhere I went, I enjoyed what is admirable and turned a blind eye to the negative aspects of it. For example, in Nigeria, I enjoyed the fact that I could ask someone to get me coconuts from the palm trees. I enjoyed that one time someone tried to sell me an alligator. I enjoyed that there were fried bananas to eat. On the other hand, I turned a blind eye to the real problems I faced like random deadly shootings and other major forms of violence one can find in the streets.
Another major problem, Malaria; if a certain female mosquito by chance sucks your blood; one can end up with this deadly but curable disease. In addition to the health hazards, the condition of the health care system in Nigeria cannot be described in words. Even though, my mother’s advice seemed quite convincing and adequate at the time, it later turned out to be not to be so as it turned me into a person living in a lovely big pink bubble. Later, it was my husband who pointed that out to me and advised me to get a reality check. I have never had a boyfriend/lover/acquaintance (whatever you can call it) before. Never as in means of never. The reason that is so is mainly because Middle Eastern traditions and religious causes do not support this. Since Middle Eastern people live in a predominately conservative society, the notion of a man and a woman dating and going out on their own is frowned upon, especially for the woman.
Nevertheless, many Middle Eastern women still do have boyfriends. Their families though, especially their fathers or brothers, are usually oblivious to that fact. It is very rare to find a Middle Eastern parent who is aware that his or her daughter is dating some guy and is content with it. So as you can imagine when I first met my husband, it was a big deal for me. Of course, you are probably wondering how people get married in the Middle East in general since dating is not a supported idea. Well, there are the arranged marriages where the mother, an aunt or a family friend proposes a “decent girl” to a guy and they set the date to meet in the girl’s house or a café. If all goes well, they get married and live happily ever after. My parents married this way. Long story short, my dad was out with his friend buying a watermelon and then his friend proposed the idea to my dad – to marry a woman he knew (my mother) who was his distant relative.
They set the date to meet for the first time, instantly fell in love, married and are living happily ever after. At least that is what I thought till I met my husband and he made me realize certain issues in my parent’s relationship causing it to be a not as perfect a relationship as I imagined. Of course, I wish I hadn’t found out since I was glad with the notion that my parents were happily married and living the most romantic love story one can live. Anyways there are other ways to marry if you are not really into the dating scene. The other way is to meet a guy in college, school, work or wherever and the guy notifies you that he is interested and will marry you if all goes well. The girl notifies her family, they marry and they also live happily ever after.
Of course the timeline of events is not as simple as it seems but this my friends, is vaguely how I got married. Of course there are further details to the commencement of this love story. The day where all has changed for me. A love story that will leave you speechless. A love story that will leave your heart beating madly. A love story that will be narrated in the next paragraph. It was April something 2009. It was the last day of my midterms in college. I used to go to a prestigious private college in the outskirts of Cairo. Even though this particular college is not recognized internationally and has no rank whatsoever worldwide, but still in my mind, I was in a classy university. I was standing near my favorite café with two of my friends. Sadly, I have lost contact with these two girls. Anyways, I was standing with my two friends when suddenly; an unfamiliar figure jumped into our small circle and started talking to me.
Most of the conversation revolved around the swine flu. Minutes later, the unfamiliar figure was gone and nowhere to be seen. I was left standing alone confused, trying to remember his last name. Was it Gamal or Galal? This is how my husband and I first met in April something 2009. My husband revealed his liking of me weeks after our first encounter. The fondness we had for each other quickly turned into love. I was later told that the first time Mohammed (my husband) saw me was in front of the H5 lecture hall. I was apparently wearing brown boots and looked really good. At that instant, something clicked in his head and he was determined to get to know me. It took him about three months. He tried a lot of techniques but it never worked. For example, he found my email in the university storage data and was going to mail me but changed his mind at the last minute.
An email with the letter “h” was only received. Later, I was told that the letter “h” was meant to be a “hello.” I remember when I saw that email and wondered why the hell did I receive an email from someone in the university with the letter “h” in it? The wonder ended quickly as I resumed my studies (man was I a bookworm back in those days). My husband sought the help of a guy in my class to introduce us. The guy in my class ignored him. It was only April something 2009, when my husband intruded into a conversation conducted by three female strangers that we finally met. I saw him a couple of times after the first encounter. But it was the third or fourth time that was interesting; I was walking with the same two girls (It seemed that I had no other friends then apart from these two girls), my husband again appeared from nowhere. He said hello to all of us and asked me if he could have a word with me in private.
Being the good student I always have been, I claimed that I have class now and the word can be postponed till after the crucial lecture; the professor was going to stress the important points to review for the exam. We agreed and parted. Half an hour later of enduring my friends’ teasing, we met (the class was cancelled) and we talked. It was the most important conversation of my life. A year and a half later we were married and 3 and half years later, I started to write this book and reveal what most Middle Eastern women face in the course of getting married and thereafter. I will particularly refer to marriage rituals that are held in Egypt since I am Egyptian.
Similar rituals are held in other parts of the Middle East but there might be minor differences. Most of the contents of this book are from my own perspective. I would like to point out that many people will not agree with some of the contents of this book. And as part of the common technique some Arabs react to when they disagree with someone’s thoughts, is that some may want to kill me. To people who peacefully disagree with the contents of this book, my answer is: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn,” quoted from my favorite line from my favorite book, “Gone with the wind.” And to people who disagree and would like to kill me – man do I have to hide somewhere!
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