3ayz Atgawaz (I want to get married) – Ghada Abdul-‘Al

30 Apr

This is the second chapter in the 2008 Egyptian book 3ayz Atgawaz (I want to get married). It is written in Egyptian Arabic and, unlike Luwis Awad, the style is very colloquial. I have tried to render this without going completely over the top. The book is about a middle class Egyptian girl who is of the age when she should be getting married but so far hasn’t. The book, like this chapter, mostly explores the tension between both wanting and dreading marriage. It should also be made clear that people don’t tend to leave home before they get married in Egypt so getting away from Mum and Dad is a huge extra incentive! It was also turned into a TV series.

Why do I want to get married?? 10-15 reasons.

Sometimes I sit by myself and just wonder for a while:  why do I really want to get married? My life is good. I’m a doctor, respected, and I make a decent wage (don’t laugh)… I do allright… I eat, I drink, I sleep, I go out and wander around. I go to the cinema, watch satellite TV – I can’t take my eyes off it. What’s the problem?

At other times, though, there are moments when there are lots of reasons that make me want to get married. I’m sure that all girls, across social classes, feel this way.

One of them might say: I want to get married to have a family

A second would say: I want to get married so I don’t get called a spinster

A third would say: I want to get married so I can get divorced and be free (A bit silly but what are you going to do)

A forth would say: I want to get married to beget another Saladin for the Arabs (Oh boooy! How proper)

But I have completely different reasons… Nothing big (like, for instance, that it is my right to want to get married. Although there’s no shame in that)! It is the little things that concern me. After all “It is the little things that give life its flavour.” At least in the opinion of Mervat Amin in the film The Train of the Years Has Left, My Son, Take the Next One at 3:45… What a deep film!

What’s important are these ten or fifteen times when I feel I need a husband:

1) When the canister of gas [for cooking and hot water] is finished and I want to change it… This is the husband main duty around the house.

2) When I see a cockroach at home and I’m scared but don’t know how to kill it… It would be terrible if he was afraid too though.

3) When it’s dinner-time and Mum and Dad eat the chicken legs then leave me the breast… Even if he doesn’t like the breast either that’s OK; the chicken has two legs. But Mum and Dad eat one each!

4) When I am bringing the mattresses up to get some air on the roof… When I do this I need someone to help. At the moment I do them all by myself.

5) At the cinema when they split up singles from families. Really, people get married and go to the cinema? Where’s the harm in that?

6) When I ride the Microbus my husband would protect me from being harassed or attacked. That is, of course, if he wasn’t busy harassing the girl next to him!

7) When I come back home and I’ve had an argument with my boss. I want to let of steam at someone but it’s wrong to shout at my parents… I’d go to hell. With him, though, whatever!

8) When a married friend of mine gets a call from her husband who says that she left a pan on the gas and the apartment caught fire. It makes me feel bad that I still don’t have an apartment to burn down.

9) When I am sleeping by myself in bed at night (no dirty thoughts!) he would make a good barrier to stop me falling out onto the floor.

10) When Mum cooks food I don’t like… When will I be in charge of the cooking and be able to make whatever I want? Then, whoever doesn’t like it can go eat with their mothers!

11) When Mum doesn’t let me throw my old junk on the balcony… When will I have my own balcony that I can fill with junk and my own kitchen to put my empty pots and jars.

12) When I feel like eating plums… Right now there is no-one who would bring me one but when I have a husband I will threaten him by saying that it might be pregnancy craving and that the child wanted a plum.

13) When I am watching a music video by Haifa [Wahby] or Nancy [Ajram] and I want someone sitting next to me so I can make fun of them.

14) When I writing something like this and I don’t have anyone to tell me that I’ve written 14 points but forgotten to write number 6. (hahahahaha …. just kidding).

15) You can think of point 15 yourselves because I’ve given myself a headache and am feeling really tired.

These are the 10-15 times when I feel like I want to get married. But there are 100 other times when I feel I don’t want to … and I’d rather not be married.


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