My [redacted] Journey

A teacher's search for inner peace.

Marriage and a Modern Muslim Girl


September 30, 2014

Dear Readers,

Today’s “A to Z Challenge” is brought to you by the letter “M“.

Writing 101’s assignment:  Write a post with roots in a real-world conversation.  For a twist, include foreshadowing.

Based on real life events.  The names have been changed.  Peace, ~v.


“Miss Victoria, my mom would never make me marry if I didn’t want to.  And I don’t want to!”  Della was adamant as she spoke with all the confidence of an 18 year-old about to graduate from high school.  The rest of the girls in my class smiled their knowing smiles.

It was the end of the school year and my students were schooling me on marriage in the Middle East.  Of all the Middle East traditions I know, the ones involving marriage are the most perplexing.  Males and females are completely separated by society, in public and in private, from around the age of 5.  By age 20, most young ladies are bound to an arranged marriage.  Having never been alone with a member of the opposite sex, teenage girls fall back on their fantasies of love and marriage.  Each imagines she will fall madly in love with her husband, but only after she marries him, of course.

Della didn’t ascribe to that conclusion.  She was determined to go to the university and determined not to have an arranged marriage.  “I will marry for love or I will not marry at all!” she was fond of saying.

The bell rang, signaling the end of the day, and my students hurried out the door.  Della hung back, she had something on her mind.

“Miss Victoria,” she began after the class had emptied.  “Miss, I don’t think I’m going to go to the university.”

“Oh, no?”  I tried to hold my surprise in check.  Della dreamed of becoming a television journalist.

“No, Miss.  I don’t think I can do it.  It’s probably too hard for me.”

This was not the Della I knew.  The Della I knew was confident, independent, and so sure that she would be broadcasting on TV in the near future.  I could tell she had made up her mind.  I muttered a few platitudes and Della slid out the door.

The next day, Della again stayed after school.

“Miss, can I tell you something and you won’t tell on me?”  She asked.

“Of course,” I assured her.

“Miss, my mom wants me to marry my cousin right after school is through.”

“And you don’t want to?” I hedged.

“No, miss I don’t even like him!  But my mom says I should marry him because he is part of our family and at least if he hits me or something, we can control him.”

After I regained my composure, I said, “What about college?  Doesn’t your mother know you want to go to college?”

“Yes.  But she thinks it’s time for me to get married.  I don’t think she will make me if I keep telling her no.  And she stopped talking about it a couple of weeks ago.  But I think she is going to ask me again.”

“Well, can you keep telling her no?  I mean, I don’t know…” and my voice trailed off .  We both knew the answer to that question, and we didn’t have the heart to face it.

The next few days were a whirlwind of activity.  Every now and again, I would catch Della’s eye and she would flash me her beautiful smile as if all was right with her world.  I tried to reason out the scenario in my head.  Della’s mom would persist in asking her daughter to marry the man she had picked out for her.  Della would continue to resist.  I was convinced that Della’s mom would not force Della to marry.  Unfortunately, I was right.  Della’s mom did not have to force Della to marry.

I saw Della one last time before graduation.  We hugged and we cried and we laughed, all things that Della would no longer be allowed to do in public now that she was no longer a girl.  Her face stoic as she pulled away from me, Della stood terribly erect.

“Miss,” Della announced in a bold voice.  “Miss, my mom asked me again to marry my cousin.  I said yes.”

She didn’t wait for my reaction.  She simply turned on her heels and was gone.



12 thoughts on “Marriage and a Modern Muslim Girl

  1. Wow. Incredible. Very sad. Great post! I enjoyed reading it but the ending made me sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Unfortunately it’s just the way things happen. It’s a very common occurrence and the damage of it goes far beyond a missed opportunity of university education. Marriages between cousins significantly increases the rate of birth defects in children. My mother knows a lot about this as she has worked in several special schools in my city and the number of middle eastern kids with arranged in-family marriages she’s had to work with is certainly not a figure to take lightly.

    Regarding the post, I think it’s great, really emotional, packs the right amount of power and is succinctly written, what more can you ask for?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading. It is unfortunate that in this day and age, some have such a rudimentary understanding of genetics. To that end, I am sorry that children’s disabilities are the result.
      Thank you for your comment.


  3. Really interesting to hear first hand how these exchanges work, even in today’s modern world

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Your story pulled me right in and I had to keep reading to see if the ending was as expected!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It felt wrong to enjoy this, Victoria, but you’re writing is too damn good. Another home run.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you ☺️. I do understand the paradox. It was an even worse feeling in real life. It felt wrong to enjoy my time there, but the students were just so wonderful.
      Thank you again.


  6. “Her face stoic …” – and her mind too. Why schools and universities, if stupid old traditions still at the very end take over? I know about this problem also in India, Turkey, even in Germany…

    Liked by 1 person

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