As he argued and debated on, he was met with an unfamiliar silence from his opponent. Never before was he defeated so gracefully.
“Cat got your tongue?” he yelled across the dinner table. Shamed and red-faced guests turned their gaze towards the insulted.
He was there, invited, as a formality of hospitality, the dignified thing families of prestige do when a marriage proposal walks through the door. The young man was unknown, of no formal royalty or family of status. The polite way of refusal was to invite them to a first and final dinner where the suitor would be ridiculed intellectually and demoralised spiritually as he would be met by a fury of wit and cruelty lashed in literary prowess.
After being met with a onslaught of words, poetry and prose, wity belittlement, his head lifted from the bowed neck position he maintained, a sign of his impeccable nomad training, training of the ancient Arabs that was all but forgotten as the city he resided in was modernised with the attire, technology and culture of the British invaders, poised as businessmen trying to advance a backward nation. He smiled sincerely, affectionately as if he read right through the pain of the father, his fears of letting his precious first child and only daughter go to someone unknown, someone unlike him, unlike his friends, a dust faced nomad.
His gaze pierced right into the heart of her father as he quietly said, ‘Uncle, I am no match for your intellect and charm, I am but a desert nomad, enshrined in the cloak of our people of past, clinging tightly to our heritage in hope to pass it on to our sons untainted. I have fought battles for you and our people and my guard is lowered before you, I dare not rise to your elucidation, and impeccable speech.
Forgive me, your generosity and hospitality is unsurpassed but I have overstayed my welcome and must leave.’
The father grinning from ear to ear rose and loudly proclaimed ‘Nonsense! You will do no such thing and my daughter will marry no other man, come and sit nearby me oh eloquent of tongue and noble of lineage. If Arabs have any dignity left it will only survive with men like you, men whom I wish all the daughters of men like me to find and wed. Our people will only be given back their honour through the likes of you. Come, near me you will sit.’
End part 1