Marah, a teenage girl from one of Syria’s besieged cities, shares her stories of life in the war. She recently moved to Damascus to continue her education, in the face of the ongoing war that has destroyed her local schools. Her father was killed in the violence and she now lives with distant relatives in the capital.
He is a handsome man in his 50s, with a white face and green eyes. A gray line passes through his hair. He is well educated. He hasn’t been married yet. He is an old friend of my late father. He even resembles him, inside and out. He lives far away, in Sweden, and we call him Uncle Amjad.
He told me he’d send me money to help us. I refused and swore I’d send the money back. He praised how my mother raised us. He said my father was lucky to have had her as a wife. At that moment, he started thinking about this young girl who enchanted him with her strength, her pride and her mind.
Later, he asked me if I would marry him. He told me I’d be his spoiled princess. He said he’d make all my dreams come true. I’m seriously considering it. I feel he is my savior, the man that would take me on a magic carpet from a land of despair to a land of wishes and ambitions.
Why not? I could go to Sweden. I could study there and have a good life and Uncle Amjad would take care of me and treat me like a princess, being so many years younger than him. It sounds so much better than staying here, in this country that is falling apart.
I told my mother about it. She was furious. She yelled at me for a long time. And then she calmed down and started explaining to me how dangerous it would be for me to agree to his offer.
“He is 30 years older than you,” she said. “You won’t be able to understand him. He won’t understand you either. Try to find your own way. Don’t let anyone take you into a fantasy that’s not for you. You’re still young. Please, don’t waste yourself like that. You’ll regret it. Marriage is not about relying on someone else completely; it is about sharing. Such a relationship will never be balanced. He would just be like a financier for your ambitions, instead of being a life partner.”
Despite everything I think, I always trust my mother, no matter what. So now my notions of Uncle Amjad have been dashed, and I am afraid of a potential union.
Would marrying this older man when all other options seem so bleak be really that bad, like my mother thinks it is? Or is it, in fact, a step towards a peaceful life, with no problems, no pain? Is that too much to ask? I need your advice, please.