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“Marriage: The COVID-19 way”

I sensed that something was wrong the moment I saw the look on Atika’s face. Her usual dazzling smile wasn’t there when she walked towards…

I sensed that something was wrong the moment I saw the look on Atika’s face.

Her usual dazzling smile wasn’t there when she walked towards me.

At first I thought she didn’t recognize me in the half-dark corridor that leads to her mother’s room, but by the time we came level with each other and she still only greeted me with a brief ‘Welcome Aunty’ I knew I was right about her mood.

‘How are you Atika?’ I asked and followed up with ‘Is Mummy in her room?’

‘Yes, she is Aunty and I’m fine, thank you.’  She replied before continuing her walk in the opposite direction. I opened the door to my friend,  Zuwaira’s room, after I heard her answer my salams. She rose from the edge of her bed to hug me cheerfully before she gestured me to the bedroom chair opposite.

‘Welcome Hajiya Bint. How was the sallah celebration?’ She asked.

‘It was fine, I mean as fine as can be under this semi-lockdown conditions, so alhamdulilLah. But was it me or did Atika really look sad just now? I mean for a young lady just weeks away from her marriage, it seems odd that she should wear such a long face. However, I may be wrong or it’s the fault of your dimly-lit hallway.’ I observed.

‘No you are not wrong Bint. Atika really is sad. We just had an argument over her forthcoming marriage. She is so stubborn she wants to do things her way. And she’s emboldened by the fact that her father shares her views too. That’s what’s making her feel like she can force her stand on me.’ Zuwaira explained.

‘Really? And what might her stand be that her father accepted so easily?’ I enquired.

‘She wants us to do her wedding the COVID-19 way. And I said no way, instead, we should postpone it and do a normal wedding.’ Zuwaira answered.

‘And what is a COVID-19 wedding?’ I asked in total surprise.

‘Oh, it means a wedding that takes into cognisance all coronavirus restrictions.’ She answered.

‘But that’s all right. I mean you wouldn’t want people to fall sick after attending Atika’s wedding and then have a reason to say they caught the virus at your daughter’s wedding, would you?’

‘But that isn’t their idea. In fact, what Atika and her father want is a wedding with no festivities. He wants ten people to attend the wedding Fatiha in his sitting room, meaning five men from our side and five from the groom’s side, all seated far apart. Then on the evening of the same day, we’ll convey Atika to her house without any ceremony. And my simple suggestion is for us postpone the wedding by at least two months. By then the pandemic would have subsided and we’ll be in a position to celebrate a normal wedding complete with feasts, music and dancing. Then we can take her to her new house like a normal, joyful bride.’ Zuwaira argued.

‘But our Rasulillah, SAW has instructed us not to delay the wedding of our daughters, once we are happy with the conduct and affairs of the groom. So just because you want a festive wedding, which won’t be possible now, you shouldn’t put off Atika’s marriage to achieve your aim.’ I advised.

‘Look Bint try to see things my way. Atika is my only daughter, her siblings are all boys. I’ve looked forward to her wedding since the day she finished secondary school. I’d promised myself it will be a grand affair since it will be my only chance to be “mother of the bride”.  Now, five years later, with her university degree and national service accomplished, how can I forfeit all my dreams in the name of COVID-19? Who knows whether in just a few months I might have cause to regret it?’ She insisted.

‘No you won’t have cause to regret at all, in fact, you might even have a reason to be happy. You would be able to save a lot that you’d have spent accommodating guests, organising feasts and making souvenirs. That kind of money will come in handy when you give it to the newly-weds as start-up capital to invest in something. As things stand now, lots of existing jobs will be lost and no new ones are likely to be created because of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. So take the easy and wise way out. Forget the festivities and empower the new couple.’ I urged.

‘Bint you still don’t get my point. I said she’s my only daughter and hers will be the only wedding in which I have a say. When I’m getting her brothers married, it won’t be my show because I’ll only be the groom’s mother. So all I’m asking is to be given two more months to organize the “daughter’s wedding” of my dreams because it is the only chance I have. Is that too much to ask?’ Zuwaira demanded, at the point of tears.

‘It’s not too much to ask my dear friend but what guarantee do you have that the pandemic will be over in two months? And should they continue to wait for it to end, if for instance, COVID-19 remains for another six months?’ I queried.

‘If it doesn’t end in two months, I promise you I’d let them have their way.’ She pledged.

‘But why cause the delay when it can happen either way? Please don’t be selfish Zuwaira. Call Atika on phone now and tell her to join us. I’ll tell her that the wedding will go ahead the way she and her father want. This way everyone will be happy and no one will blame you for causing unnecessary delay.’ I suggested.

‘But Atika won’t be here now. When you saw her leaving, she was going to report me to both her grandmothers, so they should intervene and let her wed her suitor in three weeks. I know her father’s mother will be on her side because she never goes against her son’s wishes. But I’m not sure she’ll win my mum so easily. My mother might want to listen to me first. That way I can convince her about the postponement.’ Zuwaira declared.

‘You mean you still want this wedding postponed despite what I said? Haba Zuwaira! And here I was thinking I’d managed to change your mind? Anyway I think I better leave you to your devices if you won’t listen to any voice of reason on this matter.’ I said, rising and picking my handbag.

‘Oh no please don’t leave Bint. I’m truly considering your suggestion because I can see that I’m already a minority on the issue. I mean with Atika, her father, her grandmother and you on one side, even if I win my mum over, we will still be the minority. So I’ll call Atika to tell her you’ve managed to convince me. That way she doesn’t need to tell her grandmothers anything about our argument. Let’s just pray that they find peace and happiness in their marriage after their austere wedding.’ Zuwaira conceded.

‘Ma Sha Allah, that’s the spirit my friend. Well done!’ I enthused.