Family in Crisis – Chapter 1

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Zaid’s Secret Attraction

Zaid Gamal was in the valley of decision as he reflected on his life journey to date.

His parents in Egypt had been reluctant to send him to Jordon where he wanted to complete a master’s degree in Information Technology, but Zaid had been insistent, and his parents eventually came around to his point of view when they considered some cross-cultural experiences could stand him in good stead as he entered the job market in Cairo.

 They were an influential political family and therefor quite confident they could get their son into a teaching position on completion of his course of studies. However, their son exceeded in his academic achievements to such an extent The University of Jordon offered him a tutor position at entry level while he advanced to PhD studies on a scholarship. As his parents could not match that offer in Cairo despite their influence, they grudgingly agreed but fearful their son would eventually opt for a career in Jordon or some other part of the world and potentially be snared by some foreign woman not to their cultural taste they decided to arrange a marriage to the daughter of someone of equal rank in their community in Egypt and began a search. They informed Zaid of their intentions, and he quickly vetoed that proposal stating he had no time for family considerations while he was working on an advanced degree.

Now with his PhD already completed and the university greatly impressed with his dissertation they offered him a permanent position with a salary he found it hard to refuse and informed his parents he’d spend more time in Jordon gaining experience before considering a return to Egypt and employment there. His parents were so alarmed they returned to their plan to get him married to a woman of their choosing. They’d insist he visit Cairo as it had been many years since he’d done that. They’d visited Aman to see their son regularly and were impressed with his independent status and success at the university so could understand his reluctance to return. But they’d insist and while they had him in Cairo see he was wedded there.

But Zaid Gamal was quite familiar with how things were managed within his family circle and informed his parents it would not be possible to take time off from teaching and research duties for some time. His childhood friend in Cairo who he was in constant contact with had unintentionally related the information in one of his text messages Zaid’s parents were actively looking for a wife for him. Under normal circumstances that would have been welcome news as he’d advanced beyond the normal age when young Egyptian men would be married. But Zaid had a secret he had not disclosed to anyone. He’d fallen in love with a Jordanian woman, and she was a Christian.

Galisha Haddad had completed her master’s degree in pharmacy. They’d met at the student center and shared a common interest in sports and after some time begun to meet in various cafeterias when their separate programs found they had time off together. It had been a matter of years now they’d shared time together and each knew there was a commonality of interests that could make life together possible and enjoyable.

Zaid was struggling to pluck up courage to find a way to make this woman his partner for life, but he knew his parents would not accept her as in practical terms Christians were oppressed in Egypt despite them being granted constitutional tolerance. He hesitated to think of what might happen to her if he took her to live in Cairo.

Here in Jordon the majority treated the minority religions with respect and equality. There were even Christians in government in Jordon. Besides that, he did not know for sure if Galisha would accept him though he’d received enough signals to show she would. He’d met her parents on many of their visits to see their daughter and they’d been nice to him but what if he was to have them approached with a proposal to have her married to him? What kind of ceremony would be accepted? He wanted to respect her beliefs. While he was recognized as a Moslem, he was not a regular practicing one and secular minded.

Only two weeks previously Zaid had learned the Haddad’s had been granted green cards to move to the US permanently and that had included Galisha. He was so distressed at that news he’d plucked up courage to tell her of his love for her and was surprised to hear her say she shared his feelings but was not prepared to live in Egypt because she valued her religion and would not feel safe there. So, it appeared he had some decisions to make, and this could possibly end his relationship with his parents and his community back in Egypt. He could not return there with Galisha as his wife as their marriage would not be recognized. Would he be prevented from leaving the country if he did visit and would a woman of his parents’ choice be arranged despite his marriage to Galisha?

Zahid joined extended family members and friends as they saw the Haddad family enter immigration check at Amman airport and departed dispirited thinking about his future life potentially without her. Why was life complicated by customs and religions? He felt a ray of hope when Galisha promised to keep in contact with him. She’d email or text her contact details when she settled.

He waited hopefully for a month and eventually an email arrived giving her cell phone number in the US and address in Huston, Texas. She’d taken an apartment for herself and found a job in a pharmaceutical company. She suggested it would be too expensive to make a call to her cell phone, they could talk on Facetime but to remember the time difference, so he didn’t contact her in the middle of her night. Zahid smiled happily. There was still hope though he wondered how it would be possible to make this beautiful woman his life partner. The requests for him to visit Cairo were moving beyond requests to demands now so he needed to find an urgent solution.

So that was why Zaid Gamal was in the valley of decision as he reflected on his life journey and how his ambition to make a home with Galisha could become possible.

The head of his department at the University was a man he looked up to as he’d received encouragement and help from him in his PhD studies. He was the one who’d insisted the university grant him a place in those studies originally having observed the quality of his work during Zaid’s master’s program. He owed him for strongly recommending him for employment too. It so happened this man was a Christian. Zaid decided it was someone he could pour his heart out to confident he’d be able to suggest a way forward.

His department head listened intently as Zaid poured out his family situation and his love for the young woman Galisha Haddad. At the end of that long interview, he placed his hands on the young man’s shoulder and spoke.

“Every situation has a solution Zaid, let me think about your problem for a while before I give you advice.”

Zaid felt better after sharing his concerns. The department head was as much a friend as academic advisor now and it felt good to share with someone sympathetic who could be trusted with his personal problems. He’d been invited to his home several times and marveled at the respect and love exhibited among this man’s household and how well he treated those in his home employ. Zaid threw his energies into teaching and after-hours texting with his beloved Galisha as they both had time from their work to engage.

A week later his mentor asked him to visit his office and Zaid phoned the secretary to get an appointment. That afternoon after classes for the day were finished, he entered the department head’s office and gave the customary greeting. His mentor indicated he should sit.

“Zaid you know we have a student exchange program with Vanderbilt University Nashville Tennessee and while we don’t have students from our department involved it so happens there’s a slot for the faculty member who normally accompanies them and sees they are settled. Vanderbilt meets us on arrival and takes over arrangements just as we do when US students are exchanged with us for a period. It has worked well over the years, and I have an agreement from administration you could accompany them this time if you feel comfortable to do that. I’ve done research and find Nashville is 777 miles from Houston by road. The university is a noted research center and receives huge grants from giants in industries such as Hewlett Packard. they have a Department of Computer Sciences our administration would be prepared for you to check out so all your expenses would be covered. Are you interested in supervising our students as they go to spend some time at Vanderbilt?”

To be continued

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© Copyright 2022 Ian Grice, “ianscyberspace.” All rights reserved

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