Aleppo Wedding, Chapter 2

Taking lack of opposition for encouragement, his mother went right on to talking about how soon they could find him an apartment (nearby), how much his father would have to pay for it, and how many rooms it must have. By the time his youngest sister had been sent to make the coffee, his mother had got as far as listing the various furniture makers from whom one would be chosen to make the furniture for the elder son of Mustapha Bey. All this time, his father had continued with his lunch, apparently barely listening to what his wife said, as he usually did. However Nury knew that his father was not as absent-minded as he liked people to think, and not for the first time he wondered what was going on behind the calm, broad face, dark brown eyes and neat white moustache which was presented to the world.

Later in the afternoon during a quiet spell in the pharmacy, Nury began to think about Sarah, who had been his girlfriend for his last two years in England. She had been quiet and fair-haired, and had clearly found him good company, but neither of them had wanted to live in a foreign country so when it came time for him to go home they had made light of it, and settled for sentimental goodbyes. He had occasionally thought since, that if she had pushed him a bit more he might have stayed, and wondered at the same time if he could have put more effort into persuading her to come. Still, it was all history now, no sense in looking backwards.

A harassed woman carrying a sick baby distracted him with a prescription to be made up, and after that he had no more time for nostalgic reflections because the doctors' clinics were beginning to empty out and he was busy until it was time to close.

It took his mother and sisters only a few days to start on what was, for them the most exciting part of the business of finding the right girl. Having, through listening to the coffee-morning gossip and consulting with friends and relations (female), eliminated all but a 'short list' of girls who could be considered possible, they started visiting the families of the girls, to get a good look at the girls themselves, their relations and their style of life. It involved much preparation of makeup, jewellery and smartest clothes beforehand, and almost unlimited discussion afterwards. As Nury had said no more than 'Hello' to most of the girls when they had visited his sisters, and there were on the list several he had never seen, he was able to take a detached interest in the proceedings which quite surprised him.

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