Saturday, July 9, 2011

From the Archives: How Many Cows?

As a young, single woman, I have dreams of one day stirring things up and getting married (I don't understand why people say they're going to "settle down" and get married. My life is rather settled right now, so I hope to one day stir things up and get married.)

I think every girl has visions of the day that the man of her dreams will propose to her. It's a different vision for every girl. Some want big displays of affection while others, like myself, dream of something simple but well thought out.

What you may not know, is in the last few years I've had two proposals thrown my way.

In 2008, at the young age of 20, we were visiting a church in the outskirts of Kampala. My dad and I were greeting some of the people. It's customary to shake a person's hand when you arrive somewhere and then again when you leave. Generally it's a quick shake, not much lingering. But this one particular young man took my hand and wasn't letting go. And after we exchanged greetings, he continued to hold my hand as he asked my dad if it was appropriate for an African man to marry a white woman. Then there was some discussion about a bride price and how many cows a girl like me is worth in Uganda (apparently 30 thank you very much).

Meanwhile my hand is sweating, and I'm giving my dad the "please put on your cop face and save me!" look. I was able to wiggle my hand free.

"Oh is that my mother calling me? Coming mother!"

My second proposal came on the flight to Uganda last year. There was a team of guys from Libya who played sitting volleyball. I didn't even know that existed, but it does. The Delta flight we were on, which never holds the plane for any passenger, was holding the flight for these passengers for 1 hour. Our family always seems to be placed in the middle section of the plane. So we get to sit together, but there's always that one seat occupied by a total stranger, who usually gets the honor of sitting next to my mom who is one of those people who has to get to know the person next to them (which I guess is ok on an 8 hour flight - you wouldn't want to feel completely awkward for 8 hours).

So she starts talking to Amin, a very handsome 21 year old sitting volleyball player. He didn't speak very much English, yet he was able to communicate enough for us to understand he loves America, thought I was cute, and would really like to get married so he could move to America.

There's something about a man using me to gain citizenship that's an automatic turnoff for me.

Maybe if he had offered me some cows...

- Aly

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