Being Single during Khartoum’s Wedding Season(s)

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“If you want to sacrifice the admiration of many men for the criticism of one, go ahead, get married.” Katharine Hepburn

There’s always a wedding in Khartoum. Before it used to be specific seasons designated as the lets-get-hitched-and-fuck-up-our-lives but it’s now open season -every day, every month (Ramadan is a month of respite thank God).

I personally do not find weddings enjoyable but nonetheless dress up to the nines, slap on the war-paint, face the music & inevitably the prayers calling on the Almighty that I soon be in my marital home. The comments are usually why are you still signal? you sure there’s no one? and the cream with a cherry on top one – don’t put it off longer, you’re not getting younger. What the…?

It was a cousin’s wedding yesterday, nice party, great entertainment etc etc (food was ok but that’s the norm and not the exception) and I see another cousin who I say hello too. [as a Sudanese that 6 degrees of separation is actually more like 3 degrees; **everyone’s either a relative or someone always knows someone else you know regardless of which city or area you/they hail from.That whole adage just because am from this or that place doesn’t mean I know everyone kinda holds true in regards to Sudanese so we rarely get upset when someone says ‘Oh I know this wonderful Sudanese’, chances are you do know them.]

Back to my cousin. He’s a lovely bloke, very sweet and one of the few i genuinely like. He declares I should go on a walkabout with him to look for good looking guys and that all i have to do is point them out and he’ll do the talking on my behalf. I actually laughed out loud and told him there are no good looking guys in Sudan. He kept asking. I wasn’t insulted nor upset but I felt I was reduced to a female seeking a guy like I seek out bargains but no effort required on my part to ‘snare’ them either. Sweet deal, no? Look pretty, smile and nod my head – a living doll.

Get to talking with another cousin, she’s a very close friend besides the blood relation between us, and she tells me some members of our wonderfully extended family kinda suggested she should be on the lookout for guys who for one reason or another are sans spouses but not bachelors per say. Apparently, once we hit a certain age there’s a specific bracket and pool of men we can only play in. Nice.

The only adequate response I have to all these suggestions is WTF?

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Unless DTGM (desperate to get married) is tattooed on our foreheads, honestly we’re fine, we’re happy and we’re doing very well, professionally, personally and all other ally’s without a male figure to call ‘my husband’ by our sides. The assumption we cannot and should not be non-married is just ludicrous in this day and age, and it’s something I’ve seen in a number of societies and not just ours.

There’s this unrelenting pressure on the female to basically be SuperWoman. Work, have kids, be married and look great. In the slightly altered words of Jerry Hall one must be a maid in the living room, a cook in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom (to shoot out the kids which is a sign all’s well in the Kingdom of Marriage).

Nothing, and I mean nothing, prepares you for the verbal onslaught especially if you’re female. It’s a constant barrage of comments, prayers, wishes, and attempts at finding you a partner for life. After a while it becomes like the host who keeps piling food on your plate, thank you but kifaya (enough) I can’t eat another bite becomes thank you but enough BS I can’t take another ‘get married’.

The issue I have with all this pseudo-wedding-is-a-bliss farce why force it? Why wish for it so desperately that it seems like life will come to a standstill, the earth will stop orbiting if all singletons are not ensconced within the entity that has higher rates of separation than Fleetwood Mac? So you think marriage is a sanctuary, سترة الزواج? that’s you not me. Everything happens when it’s meant to and in due time. For a people that are so laid back and renowned for their lax attitude to life they’re sure in a hurry when it comes to marriage.

I’ve taken to telling marriage wishers ‘fee 7ayatkum’ which roughly translates to in your lifetime, as in when I get hitched you’ll be there to witness the glorious union and lay off my back for a bit. I was getting away with it until this one woman grabbed my arm and demanded i say Amen Inshaallah (if god wills it) after she sent a prayer to Allah. She wouldn’t let go until I did. I kid you not. So I mumbled something and legged it. I now avoid that woman like the plague.

Ah Sudan, you never cease to amaze.

**slight exaggeration but somewhat true.

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