Saturday, July 3, 2010

One OPNO's List of How to Marry an Omani How-tos

Once upon a time OPNO was in love with an Omani man. One she knew since she was ten years old, running down the road with scraped knees and no shoes. He thought she was older, fourteen year old drop out from highschool on his first job- at least his age, because she showed no fear and was inquisitive about things most 10 year old Omani girls were not and said what she was thinking in every social occasion, no matter who she offended, thoughts far too precocious and daring for a 'mere child'. He was intrigued, and confused by her manner of dress, white girl in salwar kameez climbing a mountain with no shoes, unwitting of scorpians. He saved her the first day he met her from a scorpian, and shortly before she left the last time, he saved her from drowning during Gonu.

When she was sixteen years old he naively went to her mother and asked for permission to marry her. The girl was never informed that 'her bestfriend' had done so, at the time daring enough to bet on a life in her country, thinking a familial support structure there would similiar to the one of the Omanese. She was sent away back to the UK, where she always took out an old picture of them together laughing whenever she was sad, sure after all these years that her old Omani friend had married and wishing wholeheartedly that he was happy and laughing still.

Without meaning to one day, a grown woman, she returned to the Sultanate of Oman, holding the old photograph in her memory still. She drew it in charcoal, smudges under her eyes, under her finger nails, in her blonde hair. Chance had it the first man she met that day was the same one who had loved her all those years ago. Neither of them were naive little children anymore though, that thought they could change their worlds simply base don the attraction and comfort they had always known with eachother. She was a woman that would never fit into a box, and he was a man that could rarely get out of the box.

OPNO did not know about the law about Omanis not being allowed to marry non-Omanis, but the Omani man being the man that he was, informed her. Her heart broke in a dozen different ways that she tried to drown in fake laughter one day at Quantab (the day she met Y) professing a hatred for love songs while playing a mad game of football on the beach at the diving center before the sign that "no football", flouting the one law that she could.

She did not eat for two months and her collarbone jutted out, pretending she was okay, laughing off the ridiculousness of it all, and it was only the help of another woman who'd been through the same thing forcing food with commands from the Quran that her behaviour was haraam that she eventually gave up on the Omani man. He pretended to be distand and even was cruel to her, out of love, for he knew she would wait ten or even thirty years for him, and even then, his family would make it impossible, when the laws of Oman no longer did.
She was willing to do so many things. Here is her list for her love of how they could be together if only the law in the country were different and the culture:

1.) I will save the Sultan's life, or protest with a big sign in front of his palace (so what if they shoot me) and maybe he'll be impressed by my bravery, give me an audience, and let me change the law.

2.) We could marry in secret. If I had children, I'd have them in the UK, and the wouldn't have Omani passports, but when you were forty you could marry me legally and adopt them, maybe???

3.) I would wait until you turned 40. I wouldn't care if you married already because your family made you. If you were happy with your wife I would just be your friend and my soul would rejoice at your happiness. If you were unhappy, I would totally love your wife like my sister, and spend all my money giving her all the things that she wants, and take very little for myself but your love and your smile, for they are all I desire of this dunya.

4.) Let me be your beduoin wife. The laws of Oman won't apply out in nowhere if I live in a tent. Bring me water and you when you can and I will have more than I ever dreamed. I am brave enough to have my children with no doctors, no hospitol. My ancestors did it in the dark ages, why can't I?

5.) My friend's joke we could blind you with your cousin's laser pointer or cut off your leg and then the laws of Oman wouldn't count because you are disabled. While YOU might be majnoon [crazy] enough to agree to this, I am not the biggest fan of the idea. And the idiots at the ministry that turned down our application for permission would probably still not grant it, as disabling yourself on purpose is probably against the law somehow. Sighhhhhh...

6.) I could become your maid. But who has ever heard of an upper-class British citizen with a 2000 rial salary working as a maid in Oman? Someone would figure something was out and report us surely. And no children this way.

7.) If slavery weren't illegal I'd take a ridiculous loan from you that I couldn't pay back (even though my bank account far exceeds your five year earnings) and then you would own me and we could live together and not be married. Right? I will write a Shiekh in Saudi for a fatwa. [And she did].

8.) I could be your girlfriend for a week [he never touched her out of respect for her] and marry someone else, pretending he is you for the rest of my life, a sinner and uncontented. Maybe the worst idea ever???

9.) I could not marry anyone at all [opposite of what I need/want] and know you'd do your best to love me like a brother and a friend. Apparently this is the best I can hope for of all my ideas. Yet I hate it the most. And other's tell me it is a sin not to marry, but wouldn't it be a sin to marry someone else anyway, and never in my heart be faithful to them???
10.) I am going to try to be a good woman. You have to promise to pray five times a day, ok? Because I am going to ask Allah if I can be your wife in Jannah [heaven], since I cannot be here on this earth, in this country. We can both raise our children to think differently. This is the best I can do. Nothing else really makes me want to go on but a duty to God and a hope that He'll fix everything one day.
Reading the list again, after hearing it the first time in some odd years [I find my roomate's notebook], rips me to shreds anew, when I remember that day at Qantab, convincing OPNO with all my OPNO might that life does go on, and love is a drawing in our minds we can trace from memory and draw again and again on new paper. Women have become master forgers in Oman, tracing copy after copy of loves found and lost, men the same. That is only one of the stories that inspired the marriage vote on the blog. Maybe it moves you or maybe it doesn't, doesn't matter to me, as I already said, my blog is irreverently biased to my own opinions, and other posts, to other people's opinions.
For those that do care: Did they both marry others? Perhaps yes [she helped him find a woman she thought he would find happiness with and he suggested she marry his bestfriend]. Are they both happy? Well, for what I know they both smile and laugh. But the small circle that knows them deeply, who knows how to read their ticks, can see a regret that they were not born of a different race or caste, a frozen memory in how she stares off into space, and how he changes the subject abrubtly, nodding his head to one side.
Why did they not just run away together you might harshly ask, if they loved eachother so much? Well, like THIS OPNO, both are Omani to the core. And neither could survive long away from the family and friends binding them here. Both are Omani and yet one holds a passport in his hand, and the other, a passport in her heart.


PurpleFigtree said...

Oh habibti, my heart breaks for you. Life doesn't always work out happily, but at least we have Jannah, insha'Allah.

PhantomX said...

That's a sad story.. if i knew you better i would've helped you, considering the fact that you've lived in Oman long enough to understand the culture and society.. So if i had the opportunity to altar the rule for marriage it would be: Non-Omanis can marry Omanis if they've worked in Oman for more than 5 years and they're Muslim. Also, my favorite quote from your list is "I could become your maid" LOL.. It might just work :P

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Purple Figtree: Allah does not give us all we ask, so that we do not forget that We need Him:XD

He is the Most Giving, and Merciful, nothing that was forbidden by man was not halaal by Him.

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

PhantomX: You are in a position to help someone like my poor girl of the OPNO trio?

Sighhhh, it is a sad story. Alas in their case, for reasons the book (my book) will reveal, such a thing would not work. First, because of the fact that it would be rather suspicious that a woman of a very high societal ranking and income (by Omani standards at least)would become a maid to a man who could barely afford his car loan.

PhantomX said...

LOL! Why don't they just get married in the UK and bring the papers back to Oman? The law can't stop them once they've done that.. or they could just stay in the UK and live happily ever after. After all, the girl is rich and high class .. Also, another solution would be through bribery or wasta.. :P

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Phantom: it is not just so simple as getting married outside the country. And the girl herself was not terribly rich outside of Oman unless dependent on her family and her family disaproved a woman marrying a Muslim and the Omani man would seriously not be the same man she loved outside of Oman.

Bribery was contemplated. Wasta was only found later... He wasn't exactly a man of much wasta, and she wasn't an Omani to have wasta.

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Phantom: on that, both as I said, see themselves as Omanis. Both ARE Omanis in all the ways that it is good to be an Omani. Neither felt their love was more important than what/who they are. Leaving Oman was never an option. They contemplated it I guess. The UK, Bahrain, UAE. It would have been changing who they were. And since they loved eachother for who they were already, what would be the point of that?

PhantomX said...

Change or no change. They're doing this because they loved each other and nothing would've stopped them.. Their memories together will echo in their minds and in their hearts they will still see themselves as Omanis no matter where they are...self identity LOL! xD But hey, they can always go and visit to remember the blast from the past right? :P

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

Phantom: I suppose, easier said than done. Especially for a man without a highschool education:( ;p. If you asked me to go back to my country, my love for Oman would still be there strong, but I would be deeply unhappy. This is my home. Exiled for love?

Would you become an exile for love?

Omani Princess (not Omani LOL) said...

And go and visit? Hmmmm, while I know some MARRIED Omanis who do that (visit their lost lives while in their fun fun arranged but 100% happy marriages), it is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay immoral and totally unislamic. These two kids had great values, Muslim or no. Blast from the past wouldn't figure in. For them it was marriage or nothing.

scarlet pimpernel said...

On what grounds was the application turned down?

TheAmericanMuslimah said...

wow, I know this was 5 years ago, but it still brought me to tears. Omg this needs to be a movie. It's like Notebook status, but better. Were you every able to marry?