I saw her at my daughters’ nursery. She was settling her child in and so was I. She had a beautiful round face and a calm composure. We said goodbye to our kids at the same time and left. Once outside, we started to talk. I tried to guess where she was from. “Iran”? I asked. “No” she said, “Lebanon.” Her urban, hip-hop look suited her. I liked the combination. Middle East meets New York. And it worked. I was attracted and wanted to know more. We chatted easily. She told me that she was alone, that she had had a good job in Qatar but had left it all behind to come to the UK and get married. He was a British Muslim who followed a Sufi spiritual leader. He had urged her to come after meeting her through friends on his travels. He impressed her with his knowledge of Islam and Middle Eastern culture. Once married, he lost interest. He stayed out late most nights, holidayed without her and showed no interest in their daughter when she was born a year later. She was afraid to leave but she overcame her fear because he made the situation untenable. He found a young lover whom he impressed with his knowledge of Middle Eastern music as he had done when he first met her. He talked openly about how he envied his friends with more than one wife and refused to touch her. So she left. She talked in a gentle, measured way. I felt rage. When I expressed my anger she responded like this: “you know what, I am grateful that I have my beautiful daughter. Sometimes when I think of him and what he did I feel anger but mostly I am happy that there is now peace in my home and that I can enjoy my daughter. I am no longer afraid of being alone and I have my whole life ahead of me”. I trusted her sentiment. We said goodbye and I thought how strange it is that when faced with the challenges that life and love present some of us choose bitterness and sorrow and some of us choose peace.




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