our honeymoon, Kareem had promised me we would go anywhere
and do anything I desired. My every wish was his command.
With the glee of a child, I listed all the places I wanted
to see and all the things I wanted to do. Our first stop
would be Cairo, and from there on to Paris, New York, Los
Angeles, and then Hawaii. We would have eight precious weeks
of freedom from the scars of Arabia.
in an emerald green silk suit, I hugged my sisters good-bye.
Sara was weeping so violently that she could not bear to
turn me loose. She kept whispering, "Be brave,"
and my heart broke for my sister; I understood too well that
the remembrances of her wedding night would never disappear.
With the passing of years, perhaps the thoughts of her
honey- moon would merely fade away.
covered my designer suit with the black abaaya and veil and
snuggled in the backseat of the Mercedes with my new
husband. My fourteen bags had already been taken to the
the sake of privacy, Kareem had purchased all the
first-class seats on each flight of our trip. The Lebanese
air hostesses wore bright smiles as they watched our silly
behavior. We were as adolescents, for we had never learned
the art of courtship.
we arrived in Cairo, rushed through customs, and were driven
to an opulent villa on the banks of the ancient Nile. The
villa, which belonged to Kareem's father, had been built in
the eighteenth century by a rich Turkish merchant. Restored
by Kareem's father to its original splendor, the villa was
laid out into thirty rooms on irregular levels with arched
windows leading to the lush garden. The walls were covered
with delicate dusty-blue tiles, with intricate carved
creatures in the back- ground. I felt seduced by the house
itself. I told a proud Kareem that it was a wonderful
setting in which to begin a marriage.
impeccably decorated villa brought the garish decorating
defects of Nura's palace to mind. I suddenly realized
that money did not automatically bestow artistic
discrimination to those of my country, even in my own