No Dowry, No Cry

Nonfiction by | May 27, 2013

When we first met, R didn’t believe for a second that I was a Muslim; I had this skimpy dress on that merely flattened out whatever curves remained in my ectomorphic body. I didn’t have a veil on and spoke without any accent.  My peculiar name was the single, albeit tenuous thread to my glorious heritage, frequently inspiring automatic cross references to Abu Sayyaf, Camp Abubakar, and Abubakar Janjalani (we are not related, by the way). For a while, this knowledge immobilized him from taking any drastic and immediate action. But skimpy dresses proved to be too difficult to resist, and almost in no time, R was sitting on my parents’ living room sofa, asking for my hand in marriage, sweat beads rolling down his gently-sloped nose.

“You have to excuse my daughter for her strange behavior,” my father glowered at me. “She grew up here in Manila.”

And my father regaled R with stories about how he’s unlike any Muslim father you’ll ever meet, having studied both the Bible and the Koran, having many Catholic friends, having lived in Manila for so long, and having a decadent urbanite like me for a daughter. He said, back in Sulu, a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim was downright unthinkable. “Our weddings are huge; some last for days.  And there are dowries to be made.”
Continue reading No Dowry, No Cry