Monday, December 01, 2008

Not Fast Enough

The Uyghur people value the idea of marriage, or at least its statues. I have been told more than once by friends that it is better to have been married and gotten divorced, than to never have married at all. As girls get older they will feel enormous amounts of press to marry and ‘get it over with’.
Traditional Uyghur bride and groom

With this cultural understanding as a backdrop, you will understand why all my friends and teachers have started an outright campaign to get me married off. My roommate thinks she knows the prefect person for me… her ‘perfect person for me’ has a suggestion of his own on who would be a good match. My teachers spent half of our class period the other day discussing the matter. One teacher even offered me her younger brother… which is quite the allowance, considering what a devote Muslim she is (the whole idea of letting such an unclean, pork eater as myself into the family is unthinkable). Thankfully I stopped them before we got to my bride price.

I can pretty much avoid most of the offers with a quick etymological look at the Uyghur word for husband ‘yoldash’. Yoldash literally means ones road mate. It implies that two people have chosen to walk together through life on the same path. When I point out that most Uyghur man walk on the Islamic road, and I am personally on another road, they see that it would be quite impossible for us to truly be road mates.

A few weeks ago after giving this little speech, in attempts to put an end to my teachers match-making meddling, one of my favourite staff members from the school’s Foreign Affairs office walked in. She is a single Uyghur woman about my age. The teachers quickly switched the focus of their inquires to her. “You’re still single, aren’t you?” they asked. “You don’t have a boy friend?” “Do you want to get married?” And off they were again… throwing out names and suggestions of men that might be a suitable suitor for her. I was glad to be out of the lime light on this discussion. But yesterday this same girl invited me to her wedding in January. The matching making, the set-up, the dating, the proposal, and the setting of the date were all done, now all she needs to do is show up. My teachers kept looking at me like it was my fault I didn’t act fast enough, as if to say, “It could have been you, we tried our best.”

Modern bride and groom dancing in a common reception hall

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