Marrying children [Archives:2003/09/Last Page]

February 3 2003

Written by Abdulrahman Mutahhar
Translated by Janet Watson
Ma – What’s up with you today? You’re totally in a world of your own. What on earth are you thinking about?
M – You tell me what I might be thinking about. What do you think might put me into a this sort of state?
Ma – I’ve no idea what’s going on in your head, but the only things I know to put people in a dream world like this are debts and love.
M – Thank God I haven’t got any debts on my plate, and the only thing I know about love is what other people tell me. But you know what the world is like, Mus’ida. No one can ever be totally at peace.
Ma – You haven’t been arguing with your brother about our daughter again, have you?
M – Mus’ida, my brother’s been going on about he was the only one who looked after me properly and fed and clothed me after my father died.
Ma – Just listen here! Don’t believe a word of it, even if he does say how much he did for you! The only one who fed and watered you and feeds and waters us is God Almighty. And the other thing is that he didn’t give you a single riyal from his own pocket. The only money he ever spent on you came from the money your father left you, which he also helped himself to. In the end, he said there was nothing left, and kicked you out of the house without a penny!
M – Well he’ll suffer for it in the end, Mus’ida. If anyone ever told you that someone could take someone else’s money and not have to account for it on the Day of Judgement, don’t you believe it!
Ma – You don’t have to tell me that! But I really can’t get over your brother’s cheek. Firstly he confiscates the money that’s due to you and feeds himself and his children on money that’s not his. Then he goes and tells you how grateful you should be, because he’s the only one who’s looked after you and fed you since your father died! The only thing that’s missing is for him to say he’s your maker! And on top of all he’s got the gall to threaten you if you don’t hand over your daughter!
M – God forgive us! If that was all just a fairy tale, it wouldn’t be so bad! He wants me to give my daughter in marriage to his son.
Ma – Look, there’s no point in hiding behind defences, you need to go and face him man to man!
M – I don’t think it calls for that. There isn’t really any problem. She’s our daughter and we’ve got the right to say, ‘No’.
Ma – That isn’t what I mean. Your brother has got it into his head that he’ll get the girl engaged, draw up the marriage contract, and take her off with him, and you seem to be incapable of standing up to him because he’s had you under his thumb since you were a lad. The only thing that’ll make him listen is someone standing up to him man to man.
M – But I did stand up to him, Mus’ida! I told him that the girl is still very young, and everything should be in its own good time. Then I’ll be prepared to do what he wants.
Ma – Mus’id!
M – What?
Ma – If you’re really so much under your brother’s thumb, so be it. But if you ever agree to him coming and taking our daughter in marriage to his son, he’s going to find he’s got Mus’ida in his way! Our daughter’s only nine years old! She still wants to play with other children. Listen to me, will you!
M – Did I say okay to him? Did I say okay he could come and take our daughter whenever he wanted, Mus’ida? I’ve still got some wits about me, you know!
Ma – And just where are these wits you talk about? Your brother’s wife phoned me up yesterday to congratulate me. She said I shouldn’t worry about my daughter because the groom is still only fourteen himself. She said they’d come and have the engagement and draw up the wedding contract, then they’d take the girl away with them, and she’d keep a good eye on her.
M – Go on! What did you say to her then? You can be pretty tough in this sort of situation!
Ma – Why should I be tough? I simply said to her perfectly politely that if they were looking for somewhere for their son to play, take him to the park or to the youth sports club. And if they were looking for something to entertain him, there are plenty of toys in the market place. They can get a bear that plays the drum and dances. Once the foreign cartoons show us children getting married, we’ll do likewise!