Monday, July 27, 2009

Ongoing Negotiations . . . .

Z and his wife welcomed me in so happily. I have always loved his wife. She absolutely amazes me! She married Z very young, but knows just how to handle him. She is always patient and calm, attributes I do not have at all! He always knows when she's angry, and she doesn't have to say anything at all!

Anyway, I had my bag holding the lengha in my lap as we made small talk. Once we had exhausted the topics of weather and how my trip went, I turned to N (Z's wife) and told her that I had brought a lengha to show her. I told her I wanted to know if it was good or not and that I had found it on the internet. I pulled it gently out of the bag and she looked politely over the beading and embroidery with me. She smiled and looked at Z and we discussed how heavy the lengha was. Z was smiling from ear to ear and I knew that now he would ask the question that I needed him to ask.

"So then it's good news," he said.

I took a deep breath, and though this was how I expected the conversation to go, there were still tears trying to ruin my voice. "Well, we had planned for good news," I said. "But it appears that I have brought this dress for nothing. He has changed his mind again."

Z became serious and asked me what I meant. Z was one of the few people who knew the whole story of what happened with M in Pakistan.

I told Z that M had changed his mind again and that he was just too scared. I told him that we had already gone through this several times and that I just did not think that it was ever really going to happen and that I couldn't continue to live this way. "I will talk to him," he said, and that was that. N looked very sad for me and reassured me that Z was going to take care of things.

When M got home, I told him about my visit with Z, and M knew what to expect. Immediately after M got home, Z was calling him to come and talk. They went out together and were gone for two hours.

When M came back he was happier. He told me all about their conversation and laughed about it with me. The long and short was that Z basically asked him if he was crazy and what was wrong with him. M thought it was funny that someone besides me felt so strongly about his getting married. I could not help but think, here M was, sharing his "secret" conversation with me, as he did everything that happened in his life.

We were living in two different countries and yet we spoke to each other multiple times daily. We shared everything, but he couldn't seem to get over the fear of what had happened to him in Pakistan enough to make it "permanent." We were best friends, but so far, that was not enough.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Negotiations

I stepped off the plane and got my luggage. I was going back and forth in my head about how the visit was going to go. M picked me up at the airport, late as always, and helped me put my bags in the trunk. On the ride home he held my hand and I watched the now familiar shopping malls and bus stops go past my window. I stared out the window, worried and making sure not to turn towards M.

You know what? There is just no way to maintain your dignity and at the same time ask a man if he still plans to marry you this week. I couldn't believe that after all this time I was still in a situation where I just had no idea of where I stood. I knew that M loved me, but it just didn't seem like enough any more. What point is there to being 'in love' if it is impossible to even live in the same country with the person? In our situation, the only way to live in the same country was to get married.

We got home and had dinner. It was the next day before we discussed our plans. M was still unsure. It was maddening to me! It was his comment this day that got me started. He said, "You have your parents and K [my best friend.] I have no one to get advice from. I have no one to advise me."

You may remember Z from my earlier post. Z was a friend of M's from way back. They immigrated to Canada around the same time and were even from the same town in Pakistan. He and his two brothers were roommates to M in his earlier years in Canada, and the four had never moved away from living on the same street in their town in Canada. The two often gave each other advice and I had visited his home often to see his two small children and wife. Z had long been asking M why it was that we were not getting married and had in fact been one of the first people M discussed our April plans with. Z encouraged him. Z told him that he knew "better than anyone else" how M was when I was not there. He had told M, "you are depressed all of the time, until she gets here."

It was my opinion that it was time to enlist help. I called my dad. My dad and M had always gotten along ever since I tricked M into meeting him, more on that at another time. My dad had studied Hindi (Urdu's, for lack of a better term, 'sister' language??) for years long before I ever met M and for this reason, M found him intriguing. M also had a lot of respect for him because of all the help and advice he had given me while M was in Pakistan. I asked my dad to come all the way to Canada, not to watch me get married, but in case, I was getting married. I called him so that M could talk with him. (M actually had requested it too.)

My second action was to make a visit to Z and his wife. I had the week off but M had to go to work. I picked up my lengha, walked up the four flights of stairs to Z's house and knocked on the door. I had never visited them on my own, but this was important and I was nervous. I went up the stairs under the pretense of showing M's wife my bargain ebay purchase.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The End of the Road

I started my student teaching in January, 2006. I was assigned to teach Spanish in a middle school. This particular school district only taught Spanish I in Middle school and had two different versions. They allowed seventh graders the option of starting Spanish 1 in seventh grade and taking the second half in eighth grade or just taking Spanish 1 as a full year subject in the eighth grade. My supervising teacher had been teaching for more than 40 years and so she had a cake walk schedule: six classes of 7th grade Spanish I (part 1.) This easy workload (as compared to a friend of mine who taught German I, II, III, IV and V in a high school, even though her desired post graduation job was teaching ESL) really helped me out in my already stressful life, since I was, in essence, working two full time jobs and finishing up graduate work too boot.

I took trips to see M for Christmas, and each three day weekend I was allowed. . . I saw him again in February and then had to wait for Spring Break in April. M and I had been calling mosques all around his town trying to find one that would allow us to get married. I could tell M was still scared of getting married, and the fact that his mosque still would not perform the marriage did not help. Finally, I found a mosque on the other side of the city that would perform the marriage. It made me very excited to hear the imam sound so accepting of the idea. I had begun to believe I would never find a mosque that would accept us.

The plan was that we would get married during my Spring Break. I started looking for something to wear as a surprise for M. We had been talking marriage so long that I actually had bought a white wedding dress (big mistake!) but this was not an appropriate occasion for this and my life was not conducive to planning a big reception in Canada. My family is also not able to travel frequently or on short notice. I looked over and over for a lengha to wear for M after the marriage.

*For those who may not be familiar, lengha is a traditional outfit in Pakistan for basic receptions after marriage. The traditional colors are red and gold, but people wear all different styles and colors.*

It was surprising to me that lenghas are VERY expensive. The majority that I found were more expensive than any of the American wedding dresses I looked at, and much more expensive than the one that I had bought. . . And so, I did something typically 2006 American, and looked on Ebay. Much to my surprise, I found several gorgeous ones, but as is typical of Ebay, they were usually used and altered and had only one available. It took months to find one that was my size and I liked (and could win at auction. . . )

I ended up with a gorgeous (to me) pink one with two layers and heavy red/gold embroidery. The shirt left much to be desired, it was not well kept and not as had been described, and there was no dupatta or covering for the head. I also did not have the typical jewelry, but since I was doing this as a surprise, it would have to do. Typically the jewelry and lengha purchase is up to the groom anyway, so I felt I was going above and beyond!

Just before my trip M started backing out. He started talking about postponing our plans until the next visit. We had already done this since November, and I had already been feeling abandoned since then. This was the last straw. I could not take it anymore. I was patient with M on the phone as we discussed his idea. I told him that it was not an option. I explained that it was completely up to him, but that I could not live like this anymore, travelling to visit every chance I got and being otherwise alone. I told him that I knew he wasn't happy this way, and that I already knew he was feeling guilty about meeting me anyway. I knew what 'boyfriend/girlfriend' was considered in Islam, and I had been doing it for too long.

My parents had taken time off of work to come and see us get married, I told them to scrap their original plans and I would let them know if they needed to come at all. I packed the lengha in my luggage carefully, convinced this would be my last trip to see M. I knew we weren't getting married, and I knew I would never see him again.