I have received two messages in the past two weeks from devastated young Tajik men who did not get the girl of their choice to marry them. One, a well traveled business man with a big heart and a kind smile, has had his eye on a number of different 19 year-olds, and plans his wedding to be in August. Recently, the girl he wanted most said no when his mother went to her house to request marriage. He started chatting with me later that day talking as if the world was going to end as was his life and there was no hope of him ever finding another spouse or suitable woman. All I could come up with to say (trying to hide the fact that I do not believe in or support any form of arranged marriage) was "все будет хорошо" (everything will be alright).
Another, an educated 23 year-old with a steady job for the US Government in Dushanbe, told me last night that his girlfriend of 5 years decided to marry another man by her grandparent's decision. I was prepared for another outbreak of emotion as I (as I had not expected from the former) but he simply said "Well'...you know life is like a piano..what you get out it ..depends on how you play it...right....so I'm playing it well.....I hope....some doors are being closed for me..but the other doors are being opened up for me....life is beautiful"
On the other side, I met two of the most beautiful Tajik women, both 26 or 27 in age and very intelligent. But neither was married. I began to talk with one about her choices as a young woman and why she did not marry in her early twenties. She said she always thought she was too young, and just kept putting it off. And now, as she almost started to weep and I scolded myself for being insensitive and asking too many questions, she is too old for the men, too intelligent, for she is more wise and more demanding in her choice of life's partner. No one wants to marry her anymore, and like most women she wants children of her own one day but dares not hope too much. We changed the subject, then.
Well, the suffering of arranged marriages apparently does not exclude men and, though the culture is slowly being broken out of, it is as the expense of young women who must live their life alone. Quite frankly, if I was Tajik girl I would jump on a wedding with one of these guys, and if I was a man I'd be all for these women for each one of them shows him or herself to be an intelligent, clear-sighted and competent person. Why is it that the good educated men and women just have the hardest time finding their own happiness in life?