The writing's on the wall.
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In a rare moment of inter-office flirting I laid a few pointed questions before one of the secretaries; I got interrupted before a conclusion and figured another opportunity is sure to arrive. Four days passed before I was to be given the chance again. It could have happened in the even rarer moment, with her coming to the floor I work on. I noticed a lot of fuss, a lot of pink, a lot of makeup and something passed around before the procession left. I jumped as a tap came upon my shoulder; taking my earphones out I was greeted with, "have you heard?". Drops of bitchiness were gathering into a pool of jealousy, festering with "did you see the way she was dress? - slutty?". I got the story; without being told. Iranian living abroad*; wants semi-packaged bride; in town for a week; engaged that night; married the day after; discovery day followed, I presume; back to work the day after; "do anything nice this weekend?".
"That's very nice Daveed", she responded with a warm smile as I caught my reflection in the frame, "if you had of asked me Wednesday I'd be your wife now""So, if I'd have asked her on the Wednesday, I could be a married man now?", I rhetorically put it to my informant. "Daveed was saying that if he'd have asked you on Wednesday..." – farting would have made me feel more comfortable at that point. I stood holding a framed picture of what looked like the secretary in embrace with her now husband, "crumbs, look at how she's dressed", I thought. "That's very nice Daveed", she responded with a warm smile as I caught my reflection in the frame, "if you had of asked me Wednesday I'd be your wife now", she smoothly added; I gave a cocktail-party laugh; dragging it out as I struggled for appropriate questions. "He's gone back", she responded, "I'll join him when the paperwork goes through, in maybe eight month's time". "Oh me? Errr, I just hang out with my family this weekend", I responded as I passed the frame back to her.
I've still had no news from my auntie regarding the suggested khastegari** but have been increasingly hearing the question arrive, "have you found a wife yet?". Maybe again it's my hair; as it creeps back it exposes a look of loneliness. My mind collapses at the thought of taking these people seriously; I'm not sure I'm capable of such levels of certainty and don't care for such consistency. I'm assured that Khastegaris are rigorous and calculative, but it still seems so arbitrary; such a shocking gamble; maybe even inhumane depending on one's philosophical persuasion.
I've been here for almost exactly two years now and the weekend gone was the closest I've gotten to the much spoken about event. My family know the likely result and have – so I've recently learned – turned down many invites due to this. "Having my auntie pick me a future wife", I asserted to my friend upon being asked about the planned weekend, "is like asking her to choose software for my Mac: I'm sure she return with something I might work with, but there'll certainly be fundamental compatibility issues".
*Abroad, or, "Khaarej", as we say; simply meaning 'foreign'. The word has a certain ring about it – all things superior are Khaarej; escape is khaarej.
**"Khaastegari", is a proposal ceremony of sorts; an arranged event whereby potential coupling takes place. If I ever go on one I'll explain what is involved.