On a Syrian Bride

Hamida was only 14 when she married the businessman. Her family ran successful fruit and citrus farms on the coast of Syria in the middle of the last century. She was the fourth child of her parents, having two brothers and a sister. The family was considered to be religious but not overly observant Muslims. In many respects, Hamida had a mindset that did not fit her cultural background despite becoming the 10th wife of her Saudi husband.

The marriage lasted only a year; she produced a son for the Saudi man, which seems to be the only reason he wished for her to be his wife in the first place. Unlike Hamida’s family, the Saudi man was extremely religious. Like her family, he was also wealthy. So, her connubial responsibilities concluded, she accepted her divorce agreement and moved away from her ex-husband and in with one of her older brothers.

When her boy was about 5, she re-married. This time, the man was also a Saudi national, but he was much more open in his mindset. He also had money because he was an administrator in a sizeable Saudi building contracting company. While the first marriage seems to have been for traditional reasons, the second seems to have been more for love and compatibility.

Hamida was happy for some time; she and the second husband had three sons and a daughter together. This second husband raised the boy from the first marriage as his own. But Hamida says that she had a special bond with that oldest child. These days, she speaks of him as being shy and good at his schoolwork.

Today, she is in her 80s, and she dresses well, wears considerable makeup, and is largely seen as the matriarch of the family. Her second husband is also alive, but Hamida seems to be the one who makes most of the decisions that affect the family. They are happy for the most part, and they live in comfort in their mansion in the Saudi city of Jeddah. She has all she wants, she wears designer clothes, and she dotes on her family.

On the other hand, Hamida says that she does miss the better weather of her native Syria. The coast, she says, always had a nice breeze blowing. Also, she says with a smile, the food was better back home than it is in Saudi Arabia. So, somewhat content with her lot in life, the matriarch enjoys the company of her remaining children and her grandchildren.

I say “remaining children” because one of her sons is dead. You know him. He was the oldest, the child of that first, loveless marriage, the one that she was closest to.

Osama bin Laden.

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