BellaOnline Literary Review
Weevil by Mark Berkerey

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Non Fiction

A Marriage Iranian Style

Manijeh Badiozamani

Her white wedding gown, the tiara, her heavily made-up face, and the profile of the groom sitting next to her, all reflected in the big mirror in front of her. Jubilant family members danced around to the beat of the drum and tambourine, and clapped their hands. Her mother wept quietly with joy; after all, she had raised her singlehandedly, without a husband, all by herself.

She looked like any other bride: a bit shy, downcast eyes and docile-looking. She didnít smile much - one had to be ladylike. She had always been on the plump side. With her small blue eyes, fair skin, and curly light-brown hair she was a bit different-looking from average Iranian girls her age. She was still in school hoping to become a nurseís aide, or a nurse, eventually. But when the suitors showed up knocking on her door, she opted for marriage.

The suitors who came for a visit were the sister of the future groom and his aunt. They came to check her out and learn about her family. As tradition required, they reported back their findings to the young man. Several visits later, she met the young man who was to be her husband.

No sparks generated in the young manís heart when they met. He was rather aloof and lukewarm towards her. The sister and the aunt persisted, and he eventually yielded and the two became engaged. The groomís mother had passed away and the aunt, in essence, considered herself a second mother. The groomís sister, good-looking and rather large in body, was not married. She decided this particular young lady would make a suitable wife and companion for her brother and a good sister-in-law to her. The auntís position was ambivalent. They were not far off in their assessment, for the future bride was indeed an accomplished homemaker Ė she had learned from the best, her own mother.

The wedding ceremony and reception took place at the spacious house and garden of a relative. The groomís face was void of emotion or excitement. For him, it was a loveless union of convenience Ė marrying a nice girl whom his sister approved of. But the bride was smitten right away by this young manís good looks and charming personality Ė so were others who came in contact with him. He was friendly, sociable, and absolutely devoted to his own side of the family: an old widowed father, three younger brothers, all single, an unmarried sister, and of course the dear old auntie who behaved as if she were the mother of the family.

The young bride was an ideal woman with regards to the affairs of the kitchen, an excellent cook, and a perfect hostess. Her dinner parties were flawless and the talk of the family. No doubt she tried desperately to enter her husbandís heart through his stomach. Did it work? Maybe for a little while, because they ended up with three children!

Immediately after the birth of her first child, a daughter, a harsh and bitter argument ensued between her and the belligerent aunt. They did not get along Ė it was a power struggle between the two women. Unfortunately, her husband always took sides with his dear auntie. This internal family feud and power struggle were never-ending, with jabbing words and remarks flying in the air. Such constant struggle, which would have worn out any ordinary woman, only made her more determined to hang on to her husband, despite his cold shoulder and indifference towards her.

The next two children, both boys, arrived a few years later, but her husbandís aloof behavior and deliberate coldness didnít alter. For him, it was a convenient married life. He had a wife who literally adored him, three beautiful children, and his business was taking off and booming. What else was there for him to do but to find excitement and sexual satisfaction with women other than his wife?

She slowly learned of his indiscretions and infidelities. But in a culture where more freedom is allowed to the male species to do as they please - as long as they take care of the family financially - she seemingly had nothing to complain about. Indeed, he was a good provider. She never lacked for money, but true love and emotional attachment were missing from her life. He simply didnít care and ignored her emotional needs. What can one do with one-sided love?

Her children grew up, and he became a well-known business leader. He provided financial security for his family, but still refused to give her the one thing she yearned for: genuine love and affection. This was an ever-present ugly and unspoken truth in her life.

The boys moved to America and because of their fatherís generous investments, opened their own business and enjoyed a comfortable life. When she came to visit her sons, she stayed and never went back. Thus began a separation of more than two decades, with oceans between them, until she passed away.

Her sons did their utmost to compensate for their fatherís lack of affection toward their mother and showered her with unconditional love. But the unanswered question always loomed in the air: did her sonsí devotion ever compensate for the absence of love from her husband?

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