I had just gotten off the bus and was walking down the snow packed lane towards my home. As I passed the bazaar one of the young Uyghur guys who stands outside with a camera in hand to take pictures of the tourists called out to get my attention. I waved my hand in dismissal trying to indicate that I was not in need of photos. However this young man was more persistent than most, and I ended up turning to him and having to tell him very clearly that I live here and don’t need cheap touristy shots of myself standing beside a building I pass every day.
He was so surprised I spoke Uyghur, that he quickly grabbed his bag and started to follow me home. He asked questions about where I was from, and how old I am. He also asked how easy it was to get a Canadian passport, and before we had even made it to the front gate of my apartment complex he had popped the big question. He had proposed, he had asked for my hand in marriage, he committed his life to me (or at least to my passport).
Now I just have to decide what I want. Do I want to marry the camera guy, or am I more interested in the taxi driver that asked to marry me last week, or should I keep my options open for the son of the shop keeper I meet last week ( I didn’t actually get to meet the boy, but his mom thought we would be perfect for each other).
They say that every girl spends time dreaming about the way her man will propose. I don’t need to dream about it, I get to live it at least once a month since I moved here. My roommate keeps a running total of how many proposals she has had on her facebook page, I think she is nearing 20. If we were doing something to instigate these professions of ‘love’ it might be understandable why the count is increasing so quickly, but we don’t do anything. Today as I walked home, I didn’t say or do anything. I kept my eyes pinned to the ground so as never to make eye contact. I answered all of his question with only two word grunts. I made sure he knew I was a lot older than he was. I tried to say goodbye three times and in the end I walked the other direction, away from my home so that my new suitor would not know where I lived.
I’m getting good at excuse as to why I can’t marry them. “I am still young” (which doesn’t work as well now that I am over thirty), “My older brother isn’t even married yet” (Bruce is going to strip me of this one very soon), “we are on different paths” (they Uyghur word for husband is literally ‘roadmate’). I have told some of them that they are not tall, or handsome, or rich enough for my taste. But my best ’out’ is blaming it on my father. I have told some guys that they will need to get my father’s permission, and in order to do that they will have to learn English, fly to Canada, and convince my family that they are worthy.
So dad, if a Uyghur guy shows up at the front door with a camera in hand, you will know why he is really there.