A few days after I first moved to Mombasa in November 2008, this young lady came and knocked on my door. She introduced herself as Nassim, our neighbour, and invited us to come over whenever we would like to. Her large Indian family owned the flats next to our house. Her immediate family lived on the 3rd floor. Eventually we became good friends. She used to come over and just hang out with us because she would be bored at home. I remember when she came over to help me sew up all the holes in our mosquito nets. When we had visitors, she would bring us cake as to relieve us from our hospitality duties. And in 2008, she came and spent a crazy Christmas at our house with all our friends! We used to head to her house about 3 nights a week for supper. Her family makes the best food around!! We loved the fellowship (and the awesome food-at the time I was not a master chef and cooking was not something that happened regularly in our house) and just the family atmosphere.
We have kept in touch over the years. In the last year we have grown even closer. Since she is now finished high school and stays at home while I dictate my own schedule, we have more time to meet up.
Today I finally went to see her since the wedding. We sat and chatted for 2 hours and ate another awesome meal. This girl inspires me. She really goes against the grain of her culture. Funny enough, most of the things that come out of her mouth are quite biblical (she is a strict muslim). Today she was telling me of how she is getting constant marriage proposals. Young men come with their parents to her house and ask her parents if they will give Nassim to their son. Her parents are pretty rad though in that they actually ask Nassim what she wants which is not usually the case in the Indian culture that they come from. Nassim has turned down every guy. She has dreams of actually getting an education and a career of her own. She told me today that, if she finds a husband who will support her dreams, then she will marry him.
She tells me of her struggles of being a woman in her culture. She has been getting some flack from some members in her family (not her immediate family, like I said, they are rad) because she 'goes out' so often. When she goes out, she goes to sit at the cyber around the corner or runs errands for her parents. She isn't out galavanting getting into trouble. But just that she is a young woman out and about causes issues. She is also stressed over the pressure she has been getting to marry her cousin. Yes, marrying cousins is very common around here. She doesn't know if she wants to marry him or not and fears it will bring rifts in her family. But if I know this girl, she ain't gonna marry just because she is pressured. She will marry the right one for her.
We sat in her room and chatted. She insisted to cover her head as I took a picture. I then got upset because she didn't give me her beautiful smile that I always see.
But there it is! She is a gem on the inside and out.