I showed up early to the appointment. I’m usually a late person, but its the first time that I meet a potential future father in law who wishes to cross examine my appropriateness to wed his beautiful daughter. I lingered in front of their doorway contemplating knocking but then realized that being 15 minutes early might seem a tad too eager. I decided to take a stroll and find a place to spend time in. I saw a mosque nearby and said to myself that a prayer may come in handy.
In 15 minutes I was feeling spiritually refreshed. I walked up to the door and rang the door bell. A small light lit and the voice behind the intercom asked who I was. I said my name and he said come in.
I walked in and the man welcomed me into his humble abode. I sat across him resisting my habitual urge of crossing my legs as to not show any disrespect, but my unaccustomed seating position made my leg shake that made me seem nervous, so I leaned on my elbow on the arm rest with my fist on my chin but that made me look like I needed to pass gas. I decided not to worry much about how I am seated as I have changed my seating position 3 times in less that a minute and this man probably thinks I have some sort of problem.
After I anchored my butt and stopped fidgeting we started with the small talk, discussing work, economics, politics, and all the people in the 7 degrees of our separation. He would refer to me as “My Uncle.” In Arabia it is common for seniors to refer to their juniors using the word which the juniors would call them. So my father would call me yaba, which is the Arabic word for my father, and in this case, this man would call me ya aamy.
His daughter, like me is Palestinian, but she is Palestinian Jordanian. I am Palestinian Lebanese. Her family came from Jerusalem, my family came from Yafa. Both of us were born in the Arabian Gulf.
After our small talk he very casually told me, “Ya Aamy, we do not give our daughters to someone who is not from Jerusalem.”
My left eyebrow raised. What was this man insinuating? Either that I am not good enough for his damsel of a daughter, or I should feel very privileged that he is granting me an audience with him, and thus a chance of accepting me to be his future son-in-law even though we do not come from the same city that neither he, nor my parents, nor his daughter, nor I lived in.
“Well my dad is from Yafa, if that has any significance, but I don’t understand, what is wrong with me if I am not from Jerusalem?” I inquired with a stint of sarcasm.
“No my uncle, don’t say that. All people are good and blessed,” he awkwardly started to explain, “but I am stating that if you hadn’t been a son of a family and people, things would have been different.
Now this saying of “all people are good and blessed” is a loose phrase used to spare the other side with some comfort that everybody is the same, but when the person uses it with you know that what he really means is the opposite.
There are certain people, predominantly the ones who come from major historic cities, who exhibit a certain pride in the areas in which they come from. This man here is showing pride in being from Jerusalem, and is indirectly saying that since I am not from Jerusalem (something that I didn’t choose, and cannot foresee that I would need to get married to his daughter, or any daughter for that matter!), that he is somewhat more exceptional.
His logic flew over my head. Its not like he submitted an application or chose to be from that place. It is not like he built Al Aqsa mosque in his own bare hands, or contributed to anything significant to the place he boasts to be from. If anyone wants to feel proud about something he should be proud of achievements he has made, or something he chose to become. If he was born an Argentinian and chose to become a Jerusalemite that I might vaguely understand his pride, but for simply being in a place 9 months after his parents conceived him didn’t register.
When I went back home and shared the story with my parents they asked me where was the girl from, I said she was Palestinian Jordanian. My mom called for a funeral to take place if she would allow her son to marry a Palestinian Jordanian.