Some weeks later his mother announced, over lunch as usual, that she had found a suitable flat for him nearby, and he must take time to see it. She had also arranged for him to see four girls, any one of whom she would be happy to have as a daughter-in-law. Nury had a strong feeling that anyone he married would all too soon be revealed to his mother as unsatisfactory in one way or another, but he held his tongue and agreed to spend the next few weeks in active search of a wife.
His eldest sister, Selwa, visited in the evening, accompanied by her inoffensive husband, who had been picked out as suitable by his mother but whose charms had faded rapidly, at least as far as Im Nury was concerned. Poor Hanni became quite tongue-tied in her presence these days, as he was always aware that she was taking critical notice of him, and would soon be asking whether Selwa was pregnant yet. Over the five years of their marriage the questions and remarks had become less general and more pointed, with illustrations from their own family to show that it couldn't be Selwa's fault. As Hanni came from a family of eleven children, he was inclined to believe that shortage of children wasn't hereditary in his family either. However the knowledge that nothing short of high explosive would stop her combined with a disinclination for open warfare to keep him quiet, at least in her presence.
Sometimes Hanni had opened up a little to Nury, over a cup of coffee at the pharmacy, and Nury had been able to divine some of the trials he endured from remarks like, "Your mother, a very good woman of course, but she does make an issue of things, doesn't she?" delivered in an apologetic tone. Now Nury watched his mother and sister talking together and realised with something of a shock that they seemed to be growing more alike every day. It occurred to him to feel rather sorry for Hanni, and the same train of thought led him to think that he had better have a good look at the girls' mothers to see what the future could hold for him.
That had been Tuesday, and it was the Friday of the same week that Nury was taken by his mother to make the first formal visit to see a 'suitable' girl. Until now he had maintained an air of detached amusement towards the goings-on, but it came to him as he was knotting his tie that this was serious, and he was really going to have to share his life with someone else. It suddenly seemed very close, and he felt a sense of imprisonment and lost opportunities so strongly that he was tempted to tell his mother that he had changed his mind. The thought of what his mother would say, and at what length she would say it, soon routed the temptation, and he decided that no harm would be done by going with her just this once.