But Ma was still alive in 1967, and she had other ideas…“Tomorrow is Sunday, let’s go for a picnic, I will make chicken curry,” Ma announced.
“Maasi Ma, we are going on a picnic on Sunday. Make sure you bring Parveen, your niece, who has just come back from America. Suleyman is here and he would be just the right boy for her,” Ma told her old friend.
Ma had arranged many marriages and thought her friend’s niece and the tall, shy Suleyman would be a good match. Parveen had left Zanzibar on a U.S. government scholarship to study in Boston. But in 1964, Zanzibar had had a Revolution, and thousands of Indians and Arabs were killed. The new Government advocated radical social change and forced integration, and some Indian women were forcibly married to African men. So no one wanted to send her back home to Zanzibar. If she found a husband in Kenya or Uganda, then she could get a visa to stay there.
“Oho, that would be a good match if they like each other,” Maasi Ma chuckled. Even in arranged marriages, both partners, but especially the men, could say no if they didn’t like the proposed match. Some men met several eligible girls before they agreed to marry one of them.
They were forty people at the picnic at a nearby tea farm. But Ma was worried, even though Suleyman and Parveen were introduced they hadn’t talked to each other; both of them were shy. Suleyman was impressed with Parveen’s stylishness in her Capri pants and sunglasses but just eyed her from afar.
As everyone was packing up to go home, Ma told Suleyman, “Why don’t you give Parveen a lift in your truck? So they were alone in his truck for an hour, and Suleyman drove slowly on purpose. On the ride home he asked Parveen questions about the United States as he had never been there. Away from all the prying eyes, Parveen was less shy and found Suleyman easy to talk to. After dropping her off in Highridge, Suleyman announced over tea, “I have found the woman I want to marry.”
“Parveen is nice, but you should meet the other girls we have found; that way you can be absolutely sure,” Gulaab told him.
“I am sure I don’t want to meet anyone else.” It was love at first sight for Suleyman, or he didn’t want to go through the rigmarole of meeting more eligible girls.
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