Father, can I marry her?

yahya

Today I will not write about my last days. Today I will write about cultural differences.

I really like to talk with two guys from Pakistan. Before I met them, the only knowledge I had about their culture was what I watched in the movie “Gandhi”. I saw them as intolerant people that had created their own country because they didn’t want to get along with Hindus. Now I know that “Gandhi” is the vision on India about their conflict, so not all of it is impartial. I was taught to not like Muslims. I was taught to think that they don’t respect women and that they like to be considered superiors. But since I’m here I can see that the Muslim culture differs a lot from country to country and now I can understand some actions that I earlier disapproved.

My first shock was the idea of “arranged marriage”. To understand it I had to understand the value of family in Pakistan. I always thought: “If I’m happy, my parents will be happy for me”. They think: “If my parents are happy, I will be happy for them”. This changes all. They respect their relatives very much, that is why they put their love future in their hands. They truly believe that their parents will make the better choice for them. Of course nowadays they can have their opinion and most of the times their parents “choose” the girl they ask them to choose because their respect is mutual. But another funny cultural difference is that they have to hide their relationships until the time to choose their wife comes. One of the guys from Pakistan is “dating” the same girl for almost 5 years and he is not sure if his parents will choose her when the time comes. He will only tell his parents about her in the right time, and he is ready to accept if they don’t think that she is the best option to be his wife. How can he accept it? How can he accept to lose the love of his life? I think he is pretty sure his parents will take his choice into consideration and will choose her, but it is just wish full thinking…

They also have the most interesting rituals. Yesterday I went with them to a special restaurant so they could eat meat. They only eat meat that is made in a special way, with prayers and they have to cut it in a different way so the blood will all come out. During the meal, one of them told me about a ritual they have every year, in which they kill lambs and give half of it to their families and the other half to the poor. It is a way of proving their devotion to god. So I asked him if he could picture his life without god, and the answered: “Can you picture your life without maps? Without light? How would you know what to do? Where to go?”  I told him that I know what I want because of my will. “Who gave you that will?” End of conversation…

I have been wondering: Who commands my dreams? Maybe it is better to have a god than only wish to be like the superstars in Hollywood movies or to aspire to be as pretty as the Disney princesses. Sure I still can’t understand how some people follow their god blindly, how some girls from Egypt try to convince me that asking questions is a bad thing because it will destroy my faith, sure I still can’t understand how people rule their lives by books that were written thousands of years ago….  But now I can understand that Muslim people do their fasting because they want to feel what poor people feel every day, because they want to train their patience…  Now I can understand that most of their choices are based on good values such as Family, as Honor and Altruism.

I still have a lot to learn, a lot to question. I really hope I can understand more and judge less. I will stay loyal to my convictions, but I will also feel passion and respect for other people`s choices.

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