At dinner Thursday night, Alma began to make some suggestive comments about me and Zakaria. At first, when I entered the kitchen, she pointed to the seat next to him and told me, “sit down next to your husband.” When I didn’t react – on purpose – she repeated, “did you hear me? I called him your husband,” and started laughing. So I smiled, slightly uncomfortable, unsure of how to react. Then she told me that Zakaria is looking to get married. That he’s a good catch. “Are you interested?”, she then asked me. My discomfort increasing, I smiled again and tried to think of the smartest way to respond.
This issue has been coming up more and more often. At first, there were the simple questions: Do you have a boyfriend? Why not? Would you be interested in a Moroccan? I tried, in the nicest way possible, to dismiss these questions without having to answer, but Alma wouldn’t hear of it and kept pressing the issue. Really? You don’t have a boyfriend? How is that possible? “We’re going to find you a Moroccan husband,” she told me, with resolve in her voice. In a tone of voice that suggested, ‘we’ll take care of you, don’t you worry’. I smiled, didn’t take it too seriously, and thought it was cute that she seemed to be projecting her own search for a husband onto me. Because she has also been more and more vocal about her own desperation, joking around that at her age, she would take anyone – even an extra terrestrial.
But this comment about marrying Zakaria is the second time she actually sort of concretely, even if not seriously, propositioned marriage. At the wedding last weekend she also approached me, and told me she’d found a man for me at this party, and did I want to meet him? Was I interested in getting married? After a bit of frantic thinking I then gave her what I thought was the most diplomatic answer, and least likely to lead to further questions or urgings: “no, I said, I can’t get married now, because I’m still in school.” And that was that, she accepted it.
Thursday night at dinner, I was about to provide the same answer – I would be off the hook, and it would be least offensive toward Zakaria – but by the time I was about to open my mouth, the rest of the family had come in and the moment, luckily, had passed. But I started thinking: if Zakaria is looking for a wife, why not Alma? Because she is clearly looking for a husband, and they are good friends. All weekend I have been waiting for an occasion to ask her about this, but I never once got a moment alone with her.