“So, how was Faisal’s Melka?” my mother asked me as I was going up the stairs to the living room in our house. “It was very nice. We had a lot of fun and he seems very happy Alhamdulillah.” It was 2 a.m. when I finally came back from Westin Hotel where Faisal had his Melka to Samar, his girlfriend of many years. I was exhausted from all the dancing and singing that took place. I just threw myself on the couch right next to my mother who was waiting up for me. It was Thursday night and she did not have work the next day. She wanted to know how Faisal’s night went.
I have known Faisal practically my whole life. Being an only child, my parents were thrilled that I had someone like Faisal as a friend. My whole family loved him and treated him as if he were my actual brother. He spent days and nights at our house as if it were his. We traveled, studied, laughed, played, went to school and basically did everything together. Everyone knew how close Faisal and I were and naturally expected me to be extremely happy that my friend has finally tied the knot. What I did not tell anyone though, was that I had a slight tinge of jealousy and a strange sense of abandonment.
Samar had been Faisal’s girlfriend for well over five years then. He met her through his cousin who went to high school with Samar. She figured that since both Faisal and Samar are medical students, they might help each other with the heavy load of studying and so she introduced them to one another. It started naturally as most relationships do, just colleagues who occasionally talked about things other than college. Gradually, they became good friends and before the end of our second year of medical school, they were in love. They were, and remain, one of the happiest couples I have ever known in my life. She was beautiful, elegant, funny and smart. He was also good looking, intelligent and a very good man. They were a match made in heaven as they say. I loved spending time with them and never have they made me feel as if I was a third wheel.
However, as they progressed with their relationship, I felt myself being pushed further away little by little. When they became engaged last year, I knew that our friendship was going to be slightly dented. That is not to say I was not happy for my friend. On the contrary, no one else could have been happier for him. I understood that this is just the normal cycle of life that I am bound to play my part in too. We get busy with the daily demands of existence, we seek goals and try to achieve dreams while attempting to hold on to what we perceive as dear. Our fingers slip no matter how hard we grasp because we have our eyes set on something in the horizon. My friend belonged to someone else now and I had to learn how to deal with it. It was not easy. I missed him.
Of course, now that they were technically married, I knew that the gap would only grow wider. That is why my sense of abandonment was overwhelming. I realize that he was not going anywhere and that we will always be friends, but I could not help it. I also felt jealous because I wanted that kind of happiness, which he had with Samar. I longed for the certainty that he showed when he proposed to her. I wondered what it must feel like to have someone be by your side no matter what and till death do you part.
“So, tell me, how was it?” my mother’s question brought me back to reality. “Well, I arrived at 9 to his house. They had the whole Jessesa, traditional folklore singers, thing. The lead Jesses voice was nice and we had a lot of fun there. I didn’t understand though why there was someone holding up the Saudi flag! That was weird in my opinion. Faisal had his Degla on. He looked great mashallah. The guys wouldn’t stop grabbing up his ass! Poor Faisal! At 10:30 we arrived at Westin after a parade of cars from his house. Nothing more really to tell. We kept dancing then we had dinner. The food was good. I was of the last ones to leave the place. May God bless him with happiness, in both life and the afterlife.” “That’s it?” my mother said in playful objection. “No action? No drama?” she said. “Hmm, he had an uncle who seemed drunk! He wouldn’t stop dancing and would open up all these weird topics with us about marriage and kids!” I said laughingly.
“When are you going to please your mother’s heart and get married like Faisal?” she asked with bitterness in her voice. I just shrugged my shoulders and did not say anything. Clearly upset, she said, “Look at you in your thobe and shomagh. You look very handsome just like a groom. Your father and I dream of the day you settle down and marry a beautiful young good girl. We would love to see your kids and watch them grow up before we die. Why don’t you just think about it at least? Why are you refusing to give Danya a chance? God knows you won’t find anyone better than her and most importantly, she loves you, son. Anyone can see it but I don’t know why you won’t or don’t want to.” “Would you please stop discussing marriage with me? I’ll get married when I think the time is right. Goodnight now,” I said and retreated to my room.
My parents have been harassing me about getting married ever since I graduated. Having a college degree is equivalent to having a license to mate and reproduce in their minds. I was getting fed up. It seemed as if every conversation I have with my parents must divert into this specific subject eventually. I knew they meant well but I just was not ready to evaluate this option then.
A few months later, as our internship year was coming to an end, most of my friends were getting engaged or married. That was the norm in our society. Coupled with Faisal’s Melka, my sense of loneliness escalated. During most of my life, I usually turned to books whenever I had free time. There was always an exam to study for or an assignment to do. Now that we were interns, I had nothing much to do after work. I spent more time at the hospital but that was no way to live. I ached for something more. I wanted meaning. Emptiness was crawling up inside of me and devouring me like a hungry monster. That is why when my mother asked me again if I would consider getting engaged to Danya, I told her “yes.”