I’m not pretty although I’ve had some people say that I have flawless skin. Some even compliment on my complexion, saying that it looks like rich, dark chocolate. I’ve been told that I have nice eyes and an attractive smile yet, most of these same people were shocked when they found out that Faraz had asked my parents for permission to marry me. They couldn’t believe that a handsome man like him who had his pick of lots of beautiful women would choose me, an African Muslim girl. Faraz is from West Bengal. He and his family moved to London twenty years ago. My family migrated from Mogadishu, Somalia when I was three.
I will never forget the day I met Faraz. His sister, Kalika and I are university students and best friends. We were coming out of the library when we ran into him. He was on his way home and offered to give us a ride. When Kalika introduced us, I made sure that I didn’t stare at him but I couldn’t prevent my heart from beating fast or from thinking of how handsome he was.
Kalika got into the front with him and I sat behind her so that I could steal glances at him. I couldn’t help wondering if he was engaged to be married. I hoped not although I didn’t stand a chance with him. Why would he want to marry me when he could marry an Indian woman? My heart skipped a beat when I sneaked a look at him and our eyes met in the rearview mirror. Flustered, I turned away and looked out of the window. For the rest of the drive, I dared not look at him again. Kalika was chattering away, oblivious to what was happening.
When we pulled up outside of my house, I thanked Faraz for the ride and said goodbye to Kalika. I got out of the car and hurried up the driveway. I turned when I reached the porch and waved as the car pulled away. I didn’t mention anything to my parents about meeting Faraz. I couldn’t stop thinking about him, though. After I said my night prayers, I lay on my right side, thinking about him until I eventually fell asleep.
The next day when Kalika and I were walking to the bus-stop, she asked me point blank, “Do you like my brother, Faraz?”
After I got over my surprise at the question, I answered truthfully. “Yes, I like him.”
“Good. He likes you too. My mother wanted my to ask you to have dinner with us on Saturday. Faraz will be there.”
I was excited and nervous about going having dinner with her family. I had met her parents before and they were very nice people but I was nervous because of Faraz. I had no idea what I would say to him if he talked to me. “Please tell your mother that I will come for dinner and thank her for inviting me.”
As soon as I got home, I told my parents. I couldn’t wait for Saturday to come because I knew that I was going to see Faraz. I still couldn’t believe that he liked me. Then, I began to wonder, when Kalika said that he liked me, did she mean that he liked me as a person likes another person or that he liked me as a man liked a woman? I hoped with all my heart that it was the latter.
Saturday evening came and I was sitting around the table with the Bashara family. Kalika was sitting next to me while her parents sat at both ends of the table. Faraz sat opposite me. I tried not to look at him unless he said something. Everyone was saying something or the other. I didn’t say much because I was shy.
For dinner, we had Chicken Biryani, Garlic Mustard Fish Fillet and for dessert, we had Easy Victoria Sponge cake. After dinner, we retired to the living-room. I sat on the loveseat and to my surprise and delight, Faraz sat next to me.
For a few minutes, neither of us said anything but listened to the chatter of his parents and Kalika. Then, he turned to me and asked, “Are you a spiritual person?”
I nodded. “Yes, I am.” And I took my time and explained why I believed that I was a spiritual person.
He then proceeded to ask me the following questions: What is your understanding of an Islamic marriage? What is the role of religion in your life – now? What is your relationship with your family? What are your goals in life? I answered each question and I sensed from his demeanor that my answers were satisfactory.
“Would you like to answer me any questions?” he inquired.
I asked him, “What is your relationship with your family? What you like to do in your free time? Do you read? What do you read?” I felt too shy to ask him anything about marriage.
“My family and I are very close. In my free time, I enjoy bike riding, roller skating, watching a documentary, reading blogs and articles, non-fiction, hiking, playing basketball, spending time with family and friends and playing the 5Pillars game. Have you heard of it?”
“Yes. My family and I like to play it.”
He smiled. “Maybe we can play it with my family and yours sometime.”
I managed to say, “That would be nice before Kalika came to tell him that their parents wanted to have a word with him.
Kalika sat down beside me. “So, what were you and Faraz talking about?” she asked.
“He asked me questions about my religion, marriage and my family. And I asked him about his family, what he did in his free time and if he read.”
“I told you he likes you. I bet he’s in there telling Mom and Dad that he wants to court you.”
I stared at her. “You really think so?”
“Yes. I won’t be surprised if he arranges to meet your family.”
“So, you don’t mind him courting me?”
“Why should I mind? You’re my best friend. It would be really cool to if you were to be my sister-in-law too.”
I didn’t want to get my hopes up so I merely smiled and she suggested that we go for a walk. When we returned, my father’s car was parked outside. As we approached, I saw that he wasn’t in it. We went up to the porch and inside. We heard voices. We went into the living-room and found my father with Mr. and Mrs. Bashara and Faraz. They were talking and when Kalika and I entered, my father said to me, “I have just invited the Basharas to have dinner with us next week Saturday.”
Kalika nudged me and when I glanced at her, she gave me the I told you so, look. After saying goodbye, my father and I left. On the drive home, he mentioned that Faraz had asked permission to court me. I was too stunned to reply but I was over the moon.
The Bashara family came to dinner the following Saturday and we all had a very pleasant evening. I was relieved that Faraz’s parents didn’t have a problem with him choosing me even though I wasn’t Indian. My mother prepared Haleem and Kalia. For dessert she made my favorite, Vona Corona Ice Cream. Smiling at the compliments of her cooking, my mother thanked them and then said, looking at Faraz, “Sharita is a very good cook too. She learned when she was six years old, the same age I was when my mother started teaching me.”
All eyes turned on me which made me feel very embarrassed. Then, after we said the Alhamdulillah, we left the table. I helped my mother with the dishes while Karika, her mother and Faraz went into the living-room. My father and Mr. Bashara went into the study to play Scrabble and Jenga. My mother and I joined the others in the living-room. Kalika and her mother were sitting on the sofa while Faraz stood at the window. My mother sat down in the accent chair by the fireplace. I sat at the sofa with Kalika and her mother, sitting at the end which was next to an armchair. Faraz moved away from the window and sat down in that armchair. While the others chatted, he and I talked. Before he and his family left, we had arranged to meet at a café tomorrow afternoon.
We met the next day at the café that meet in a café that is public and open and I felt comfortable enough to ask him questions relating to marriage. “Do you support the idea of a working wife?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Why have you chosen me as your potential spouse?”
“You have all the characteristics I’m looking for in a life partner, the most important one being your religious commitment. And we’re extremely compatible.”
I was hoping that love was one of the reasons. “Do you want to have children?
“Do you want to have them in the first two years of marriage?”
“You still have to finish university.”
“I have one more year left.”
“It’s up to you if you want to work for a while after you graduate before having children.”
“I think I would like to work for a while first.”
“All right.” There was a brief pause and then, he asked me, “Do you have friends from the opposite sex?”
“No,” I replied. “What about you?”
“No. It is not allowed in our religion.”
We talked about other things and met several times after that, either at his family’s house or mine or in public. Then, after our relatively short courtship phase was over, we decided that we wanted to get married. We told our families and got engaged. Our engagement lasted a few months and then, we were wedded. It was a beautiful and emotional event, one I will always cherish. It was a celebration of two kindred souls coming together and it marked our commitment to our faith and to each other.
Ours was halal honeymoon. We could explore the world with each other and remain true to our faith. The Maldives was our destination. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to be completely alone with Faraz. The flight was ten and a half hours so we slept on the plane. When we got to the hotel, we were anxious to get to our beach villa with its private pool.
It was a beautiful suite. I couldn’t believe that this was real. It felt like a wonderful dream. I was married to Faraz. He came up behind me and placed his hands on my shoulders. We stared out of the sliding doors for a moment and then, he turned me around to face him. He closed his eyes as he supplicated to Allah for protection before he and I could have sexual intimacy with each other. When he was finished, he removed my hijab and then, he leaned over and kissed me on the lips. I felt strong sensation in my stomach and between my legs. I trembled.
The kiss lasted for a few minutes and then, he drew back, released me and walked over to the bed. Dazed, I stared at him, my stomach doing flipflops when I saw him looking at me as he unfastened the button on his sleeve cuff. I watched transfixed as he unfastened the other one, then he was undoing the buttons of his shirt. He never took his eyes off me as he parted the folds and I saw his bare chest. He removed the shirt and let it fall to the ground. Next he unzipped and pulled down his pants. His underwear followed. He stood there buck naked.
I had never seen a naked man before and it make me nervous and excited at the same time. I didn’t know what to do except to stand there and stare at him. My mouth went dry when I saw his erection. I couldn’t believe that this gorgeous man wanted me. He came over to me and after he removed my clothes. I gasped when he pulled me roughly against him and fastened his mouth to mine. This time, I closed my eyes and put my arms around his waist and eagerly responded.
Several minutes passed as we stood there, naked, kissing wildly, passionately. And then, he picked me up and put me down on the bed. I lay on my back, staring up at him, my bosom rising and falling quickly as I fought for air. He pinned my hands above my head as he ravaged my mouth before pressing his urgently against my neck. My hands were free when he dragged his mouth down my body and I writhed against him as he sucked my nipples, before he kissed me on my stomach. I moaned when I felt his tongue and lips down there. The pleasure was so intense that I couldn’t stop making sounds and then, I felt as if my head would explode before I convulsed against him.
Breathing hard, he positioned himself between my legs and I cried out when I felt him enter me. It wasn’t as painful as I was afraid that it would be and it didn’t last long. He began to move his hips slowly at first and my hands gripped his arms. I closed my eyes and just concentrated on the sensation of having him inside me. I could hear his low, deep moans.
Sometime after, when we lay there, with our arms and legs entangled, he murmured, “I love you, Saadiya.”
Tears sprang to my eyes and I replied softly, “I love you too, Faraz.”