Above Scenes From A typical Somali Engagement Party
The Hajji had extended the dinner invitation to the young man and his family, knowing what was due to his neighbours. But before the visit could be paid the Osman’s had the opportunity of meeting the Bashirs at a wedding.
The Bashirs arrived remarkably late, even for Somalis and drew the attention of the entire room when they entered, for the entire room had been talking of nothing but them until their arrival. There was still a great deal of mystery surrounding them since very few people had actually met them.
Their party consisted of five people all together, Farhan, his mother and sister, and his two cousins. Farhan was a young man in his early 30s, well built, relatively tall, although not good looking. He had an easy, friendly, open manner, which made him liked everywhere he went. His mother was a sombre, rather delicate, genteel looking middle aged woman. She was very elegantly dressed in traditional clothes, her hands freshly stained with henna, wearing gold, in the form of large gold bangles, and a long necklace. His sister, Salma, was a pretty, stylish young woman of about 25, who wore a fusion western/traditional outfit. Their cousin, Amina, was slightly older than Salma, but also very stylish though not pretty and had a chilly unfriendly atmosphere that seemed to surround her.
They were, however, all overshadowed by their cousin, Ayub Dalmar. He drew everyone’s attention with his strikingly handsome face, tall figure, and well fitted tailored designer suit. A report circulated throughout the hall within five minutes of his arrival that he not only was a graduate of the London School of Economics and worked as an investment banker in the US but that he was also the son of the owner of the Dalmar Group of Companies, which owned Biyo Spring water, Skeeko Telecommunications Company, Raaxo Hotel, and Fly Africa Airways.
Many in the room starred at him in admiration unable to believe that such a successful Somali young man could really exist. All the young ladies admired him greatly and all the young men envied him. But this did not last long. Soon, not all of his father’s companies, or his America paycheck, or even his British passport could save him from the strong dislike of him which swept across the room. He had been discovered to be very arrogant and to hold a very low opinion of Somalis in general and Somali women in particular.
Amongst those who were the most violent and verbal in their dislike of him was Khadra, whose hatred of him was made even more acute, after he had the audacity to insult her daughters!
Farhan had been talking to his cousin when Amal, the Haji’s niece who was visiting his family for the summer, overheard part of their conversation.
“I cannot for the life of me understand why you insisted on my coming here. You know how I abhor all Somali gatherings—-I spend half the evening in fear of being accosted by some insufferable, abrasive girl, who is determined to force herself upon my notice,” remarked Ayub to his cousin.
“And I never will understand your reason for disliking Somali girls,” his cousin replied.
“They irritate me,” Ayub simply stated. “They are superficial and selfish and are only governed by mercenary designs, and as a result are incapable of any genuine feeling. And their vanity! It’s unendurable! —Puffing themselves up with their shamelessly superfluous self praise. They are insufferable and it severely taxes both my civility and patients to have to be amongst them for more than five minutes.”
“Well, I believe they’re the prettiest and sweetest girls in the world!”Farhan remarked keenly eyeing Samira, Khadra’s very beautiful eldest daughter.
“Pretty?” Ayub scoffs. “I have never even beheld one with a face which I considered tolerable!”
“Here—-look,” Farhan says directing his cousin’s glaze to Samira who was standing talking to a friend. “You see that pretty girl in green —-have you ever seen a prettier face? If you consider that girl —with all her angelic beauty— to be merely tolerable than your standard of beauty is beyond human comprehension,” protested Farhan.
Ayub looked over at her, and was forced to concede to his cousin, “She is alright, I suppose.”
“Alright! She’s beautiful! And her cousin—- is also very pretty,” he remarked indicating Amal with a glance.
Ayub turned his glaze over to Amal and surveyed her before replying, “She’s merely ordinary—-nothing exceptional about her— hardly up to my standard of beauty. In my opinion, she and her cousin are just another example of Somali girls puffed up to believe they are more beautiful than they really are. Besides which,” he added, “they might be those wild party girls from aboard. Brought here to salvage their reputation, through marriage with some respectable foolish sap! It’s best not to seem interested unless you’re willing to be that sap.” He warned his cousin.
Every word that Ayub uttered only helped to solidify Amal’s growing antipathy towards him. He became cemented in her mind as the most unpleasant, revolting man she had ever met and was likely ever to meet, and avoidance of him became her most fervent desire.
She related the incident, to her cousins and aunt on their drive home.
“I believe he genuinely feared us wild and mercenary Somali girls. I think he thought one of us might just pick him up right there—- and run off with him,” she said jokingly.
“Oh the horrid man! Insulting my girls!” exclaimed Khadra. “Who does he think he is? He’s not even good enough to clean their shoes!”
“How unfortunate that the Bashirs should have such an unpleasant relation,” remarked Ilhan the second youngest daughter.
“They can’t help it—-and therefore I suppose we should really pity them for having to up with such a horrid man,” said Amal. “However, they really should not inflict him on other people.”
“Yes!” stated Idil the youngest daughter. “They should lock up him somewhere. I never understood what everyone saw in him at first. He looked like such a loser!”
“I think we should not judge him too harshly,” remarked Samira, the eldest of the girls. “There may be reasons unknown to us that have led him to make such harsh remarks.”
“Oh no! Don’t try to make us pity him,” protested Amal. “All I saw was the worst type of kibir put on display. The type that must first find fault with and offend everyone before being pleased with itself. And as I have been a victim of it, I can’t pardon or excuse it away.”
“I believe that that type of ‘kibir’ is quiet common amongst Somalis in general,” remarked Maryam the scholarly and thoughtful middle sister. “Quite often Somalis begin be praising one thing and end by offending something else. It is, I believe, a sociality failing…more than a personal failing of his alone. And thus be behaving in that manner he has proven himself to be truly Somali.”
Amal laugh at this before remarking, “Be saying his actions prove him to be truly Somali, I believe Maryam you have paid him the worst insult he could have ever receive.”
After this statement Idil made a remark about how unflattering the bride looked in her wedding dress and the conversation soon turned to the wedding.
To be continued….