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Chapter number: Forced marriage - description from the inside


Jul 10, 2017
Chapter number: Forced marriage - description from the inside
Gene Sasson 10/08/2018
A new book presents a rare glimpse into the miserable lives of Saudi women

Saudi Women flickr - Tribes of the World
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The book "Princess - The Secret Life of a Saudi Princess" is currently being published by Sela Meir. Courtesy of the publishing house, we bring readers a fascinating chapter of the book.

I felt very unhappy when I saw Sarah, my beloved sister, sobbing in my mother's arms. She was the ninth living daughter of my parents and three years older than me. Only the birth of Ali separated us. She was sixteen, and she had to be cheerful, but Mama had just told her a depressing news from Father.

Sarah had worn a veil since she'd had her period, two years before. Poisoning was the imprint of being non-human and soon she stopped talking about her childhood dreams of achieving great achievements. She moved away from me, her younger sister, who had not yet worn a veil. Sarah's distancing left me longing for the happy memories of our shared childhood. I suddenly realized that we were only happy in the face of unhappiness, for I had never known we were so happy that Sarah's unhappiness looked into my face.

Sarah was a graceful, much more beautiful girl than me or my sisters. Her great beauty became a curse, for many men had heard of her beauty from their mothers and sisters and now wanted to marry her. Sarah was tall and slim and her skin was creamy and white. Her large brown eyes gleamed with the knowledge that all her eyes would marvel at her beauty. Her long black hair was a source of envy for all her sisters.

Despite her natural beauty Sarah was truly sweet, and all her acquaintances loved her. Unfortunately, Sarah won not only the next curse with great beauty, but was also particularly brilliant. In our country, the wisdom of a woman is a sure source of future aggravation, for there is no place where she can focus her abilities.

Sara wanted to study art in Italy and be the first to open an art gallery in Jeddah. To this end she has worked since she was twelve years old. Hadera was full of books by all the great artists. She swirled my head through the great art descriptions in Europe. Shortly before the marriage was announced, I secretly searched her room and found a list of all the places where she intended to visit Florence, Venice, and Milan.

My heart was saddened, for I knew that Sarah's dreams would not come true. It is true that most of the marriages in my country are held by the older women in the family, but in our family, Father made all the decisions. And he had long since decided that his most beautiful daughter would marry a wealthy man.

The man he wanted to marry to his most desirable daughter was the son of a leading merchant family in Jeddah, which had a considerable financial impact on our family. The groom was chosen solely for past transactions and futures transactions. He was sixty-two; Sarah was to become his third wife. Sarah had never met the old man, but he had heard of her beauty from his relatives and was eager to set a wedding date. Mother tried to intervene in Sarah's favor, but Father, as usual, reacted to his daughter's tears with a blank face.

Sarah had just learned that she had to marry. Mother ordered me to leave the room, but her back was turned toward me. I deceived her by making a noise in my legs and slamming the door. I slipped into the open coffin and poured silent tears as my sister cursed our father, our country, and our culture. Her sobs were so fierce that many of her words went wild, but I heard her yell that she was sure she would be a lamb.

My mother was sobbing too, but there was no comfort in Sarah's lips. She knew that her husband had the full right to decide as he saw fit about their daughters' marriage. Six of the ten girls were already married to men they did not choose. Mother realized that the other four girls would follow in the same dark way; There was no force on earth to prevent it.

Mama heard me writhing in the closet. She screwed up her eyes and shook her head when she saw me, but she did not try to remove me. She told me to bring wet towels, then turned her attention back to Sarah. When I returned, she put towels on Sarah's head and soothed her until she fell asleep. She sat down and watched her young daughter for a long time. Finally she rose wearily. She took my hand and led me to the kitchen with a long, sad sigh. It was not yet time for the meal and the cook was dozing, but Mama sliced a slice of the pie and handed it to me, accompanied by a glass of cold milk. I was thirteen, but smaller than my age; She cradled me in her lap for a long time.

Unfortunately, Sarah's tears only hardened Father's heart. I heard her pleas to him. Sadness undermined her senses and she even accused my father of hating women. She slapped a sentence of Buddha: "Victory breeds hatred, for the conquered are miserable ..." Father's back stiffened with rage and he turned away from her. Sarah lamented behind his back that it was so painful for her that she would rather not be born. Father replied in an ugly voice that the date of her wedding would be advanced to spare her a prolonged pain of anticipation.

Father used to come to our villa every fourth night. Muslim men married to four women do a round of evenings, so that every woman and family will have equal time. The situation is very grave when a man refuses to go to his wife and children, which is considered a punishment. Sarah's suffering caused such a stir in our villa that Father had instructed his mother, his first wife and her chief, to inform his three other wives that his stay would continue as usual, but he would miss our villa. Before he left the villa, Father ordered Mama to force her daughter from her hot hostility and calmly guide her to her fate, which he said was to be "a docile woman and a good mother."

My other sisters' weddings are vaguely remembered to me. There were tears, but I was so small that the emotional shock of a stranger's marriage still did not seep into my thoughts. But I can close my eyes and bring before me every detail of the events that took place in the months before Sarah's wedding, the wedding itself, and the sad events of the weeks after.

In the family, I had the name of a tough girl, a daughter who was cutting her parents' nerves. My obstinacy and recklessness caused constant turmoil in the house. I was the one who poured sand into the engine of Ali's new Mercedes; I stole money from my father's wallet; I was the one who buried Ali's collection of gold coins in the back yard; I'm the one who turned jugs
With green snakes and ugly lizards into the family pool, while Ali dozed off on his floating mattress.
Sarah was the perfect daughter, obedient and quiet, who had always fulfilled all the learning tasks perfectly. I loved her with all my heart, and I thought she was weak. But in the weeks before her wedding she surprised us all. She had an invisible power that made her brave, for she phoned my father's office every day and left him messages that she was not going to marry. She even phoned the office of his man who was about to marry and left his Indian secretary with a harsh message that she thought he was a disgusting old man and that he should marry women rather than girls. The Indian secretary seemed to think that it was better to ignore such a message than his employer, for the expected earthquake had not occurred. The determined Sarah telephoned again and asked to speak to the man himself! He is not in the office. They told her he would be in Paris in the coming weeks. Father, tired of Sarah's behavior, ordered us to cut off our phones.

Sarah Rothka to her room.

Reality crept into my sister. The wedding day arrived. Weeks of grumpy mourning did not hurt Sarah's beauty at all. In fact, she looked more beautiful, almost transparent, a heavenly creature. Her tenderness made her dark eyes stand out in her face and her features looked like a scalpel. Her eyes were like a bar without a bottom, and through her enormous black pupils I could look deep into her soul. I saw fear there.

Our older sisters, nieces, and aunts arrived early in the morning of the wedding to prepare the bride for her bridegroom. My unwanted presence evaded the women's white attention because I was sitting in the corner of the big dressing room that had become the bride's room.

No less than fifteen women bothered with the various wedding details. The first ceremony, the Halawa, was carried out by our mother and her oldest aunt. They had to remove the entire hair of Sarah's body, except for her eyebrows and hair. A special blend of sugar, rose water, and lemon juice, which was to be spread over her body, was now cooking on a small fire in the kitchen. When the sweetening cream dried on her body, she would be removed, and Sara's hair would be torn with the sticky mixture. The smell of the mixture was sweet, but Sarah's cries of pain gave me a shudder of fear.

The henna was prepared for the last rinse of her ample curls; Now her hair will shine in beautiful shades. Her nails were painted bright red, blood red, I thought somberly. A pale pink wedding dress hung from the front door. The jewelry, a diamond necklace with a bracelet and matching earrings piled up on the mound on the dressing table. They were sent weeks ago as the groom's gift, but Sarah did not notice them or touch them.

When a Saudi bride is happy, the preparation room is filled with laughter and eager anticipation. Toward Sarah's wedding, the mood was bleak; The women seemed to be preparing her body for burial. They all talked in a whisper. Sarah did not respond. Her silence was strange, in view of her sharp reactions in the past few weeks. Later I learned why she was so moody.

Father was worried that Sarah might humiliate the surname by making loud complaints, or even insulting the groom, and ordering one of the Pakistani doctors of the palace to inject powerful tranquilizers throughout the day. Later we found out that the same doctor gave the groom tranquilizers for Sara. The bridegroom was told that Sarah was very excited about the wedding, and the medicine was meant to ease her sensitive stomach. The bridegroom had never met Sara, so he assumed in the days to come that she was simply an unusually docile and quiet woman. But, on the other hand, many old people in my country marry girls; I'm sure they're used to the terror of their young brides.

The sound of the drums announced the arrival of the guests. The women finally finished Sara's preparation. The delicate dress was smoothed over her head, the zipper stretched, and the pink shoes were on her feet. My mother tightened the diamond around her neck. I announced aloud that the necklace could be just as much a choke. One of my aunts punched my head and another bit my ear, but Sarah was silent. We all looked at her in awe of admiration. We knew that no bride could be more beautiful.

A huge tent was erected at the back of the courtyard. The garden was flooded with flowers from the Netherlands. Thousands of colorful lamps have turned the garden into a spectacular spectacle. The wonderful sight made me forget the sad situation for a few moments.

The tent was already full of places. Royal women, kneeling under the weight of diamonds, rubies, and emeralds, rarely celebrated a social event with the common people.

Lower-class Saudi women are allowed to watch our weddings as long as they wear veils and do not tie up with the royal girls. One of my friends told me that sometimes men wear a veil and join those women so that they can look in the forbidden mirror of our faces. The male guests seemed to be having fun with the kind of entertainment the women had in a big city hotel: conversation, dancing and eating.

At weddings in Saudi Arabia, the men celebrate in one place and the women elsewhere. The only men permitted to enter the celebration are the groom, his father, the father of the bride and a clergyman who performs a short religious ceremony. In this case, the groom's father has already died, so that only our father will accompany the groom when the time comes to sue his bride.

Suddenly, the slaves and the servants began to take off the cover. The women flocked to the food. The veiled women, the poor women, first attacked, stuffing food under their veil and then into their mouths. Other guests began to sample smoked salmon from Norway, Russian caviar, quail eggs and other delicacies. There were four big tables under the load; the hors d'oeuvres were on the left, the main courses in the center, the dessert dishes to the right, with the cool drinks on the side. There was not a single drop of alcohol, of course, but many of the royal women wore vials of vases in their wallets and occasionally they would giggle into the comfort rooms for a little sip.

Egyptian belly dancers moved to the center of the tent. Women of all ages fell silent and watched the dancers on one thing or another. It was my favorite part of the wedding, but most of the women were uncomfortable with the erotic spectacle. We Saudis take ourselves very seriously and consider entertainment and laughing something suspicious. But I was shocked when one of my older aunts jumped into the crowd and joined the dancers. She was remarkably adept, but the humming was a bit of a curseAnd my death carried in the air. Again the sound of the drums filled the air, and I knew that it was Sarah's time to appear. All the guests looked expectantly toward the entrance to the villa and after a short time the doors opened and Sarah, accompanied by my mother on one side and her aunt on the other, walked to the canopy. As she passed, Sarah's face was covered with a pink, cloud-like veil that had been pinned to a pink crown of pearls. The veil intensified her rare beauty. There was a low murmur of approval from the guests in the face of her tortured expression. After all, a young bride and a virgin should look exactly like this: terrified to the bone. Dozens of people followed in their footsteps, filling the air with dew, the sounds of excitement and celebration. Other women joined them with shrill shouts. Sarah stumbled, but my mother steadied her. Soon my father and the groom appeared. I knew that the groom was older than my father, but his appearance made me feel sick. To my girl, he looked old, an old man who looked like a weasel. I shrank inside of him for the thought that he would touch his hands right in the body of my shy and sensitive sister. The groom's face took on a smug, smug smile as he lifted my sister's veil. Sarah was too drugged to respond. She stood still before her new master. The actual wedding ceremony took place weeks before the wedding; No woman was present. Only men participated in the ceremony, because it was the signing of the dowry agreements and the exchange of official papers. Today only the few words will be said to complete the ceremony. The cleric looked at Father as he said the usual ritual that Sarah was now married to the groom in return for the agreed-upon dowry. Then he glanced at the son-in-law, who responded that he accepted Sarah as his wife and that from now on he would be under his protection and protection. None of the men looked at Sarah during the ceremony. The cleric read verses from the Koran and then blessed the marriage. All at once, the women began to shout and to make their voices heard. Sarah was married. The men looked up with satisfaction and smiled. Sarah remained frozen, so the groom took a small pouch from his galabia pocket and tossed gold coins at the guests. I shivered as I watched him, with a smug expression, receive the blessings of his marriage to such a beautiful woman. He took my sister by the arm and began to lead her away in a hurry. Sarah's eyes locked on mine as she passed by; I knew someone had to help her, but I was sure no one would. Suddenly I remembered Sarah's words to Father: "Victory breeds hate, for the conquered are miserable." In my grief, I was not comforted that the groom would never be happy in a marriage that was the basis of such injustice. There is not enough punishment for this man

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