He was handsome, well spoken with a British accent, same age as my first fiancé and visiting his family in my hometown. I met him at a friend’s house, he proposed three days later and I accepted. When I met my husband 17 years later, he asked me: “Wow, is that all that it takes to marry you? A handsome man who lives in London?” Back then, yes, that was all it took to marry me. I wanted my freedom and I wanted to choose my husband. It was very simple.
My second engagement party was much more fun than my first engagement party. I was veiled and danced all night. When my fiancé arrived, with all the men in his double extended family, sitting at the center with all the men from my double extended family, to ask my oldest uncle for my hand in marriage, I transformed into the very refined lady I was thoroughly trained to be, and was stealing glances across our reception hall to see if he still looked like the only two times I had met him before. He did. My heart was jumping. My freedom was so close and about to become real.
He left to London two weeks after we became engaged and he was set to return five months later. He sent gifts every week and phoned everyday. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, my parents were unhappy.
When they realized I was not disliking my fiancé, and not fighting to leave him like my first fiancé, they voiced their discontent that his family in my hometown was beneath ours.
My fiancé returned from London, and he told me he had discussed with my dad setting a wedding date. He said my dad promised him six months. Later that day, I overheard my mom talking to my dad: “Will you let them marry her?”
My dad replied: “Only when they see their ears’ lobules they will marry her”, which meant, only in their dreams.
They broke my engagement few days later. It was terrible. The families fought, and in my shock and lifelong freedom dreams fading away I stayed in Beirut and threw myself into math.