Relationships / Turkey

“Will you marry my son?”

This is how I found out that E was going to propose to me. I kid you not.

When my friends ask for ‘the proposal story’, I hesitate. I wonder whether they’d rather hear the romantic version (which happened the next day, incidentally, involving a lovely walk, sunset on the Bosphorous and a ring) or the real version. I’ll let you decide which you prefer.

E’s mum cornered me with the in-retrospect-tell-tale line “I want to talk to you about something.” Innocently assuming she was going to ask about our travel plans for Bayram or what I wanted for dinner that night, I settled onto the sofa next to her guilelessly. She grinned, then said:

“Do you want to get engaged to my son?”

In all honesty, I can’t remember if that really was her opening gambit or not. I’m sure there was some nice preamble. But the shock erased everything but that question.

“Umm… what?” I said slowly, desperately stalling for time.

I genuinely wasn’t sure if I’d understood her correctly, or whether I should just pretend that I hadn’t understood until E can back into the room. All my panicked brain could think was – he’s only gone to answer the phone! How can this have happened in 17 seconds?!

She repeated the question, smiling all the while. My breath caught in my throat as the realisation that I’d understood her perfectly the first time around expand slowly in my chest. That really was what she said. She really was asking me to marry her son.

Of course, the subject itself wasn’t a massive shock. E and I have talked about getting engaged, so I knew it was on the cards. I just wasn’t expecting a proposal on that particular day – or in that particular way!

“Erm, well, yes, of course I do, eventually…” I stammered, unsure what else to do.

She positively beamed. “Brilliant. We all want you to as well. How about tomorrow?”

My head reeled. Tomorrow? I tried to smile back, but am not sure I mastered it.

Anlamadim anne…” I said slowly. I don’t understand. “What shall we do tomorrow?”

Part of me was furious at being put on the spot like this. I tend to need a lot of time to process big life events, and something like a proposal obviously counts as pretty big on the scale of life events. But the other part was doing back flips and high fives in my excitement. If she, E’s beloved mother, was broaching this subject, it must mean that his family were behind it too.

That was when E returned. He must have guessed what had transpired from the look of panic on my face.

Anne, what did you say?” E asked, looking aghast.

“I asked her!” she shrugged. E cringed.

Anne! What did you ask?”

Smiling wickedly, she explained. To his credit, E was utterly mortified. He berated her, and begged my forgiveness. By then we were all laughing hysterically.

Anyway, eventually, E and I took ourselves off for a walk and had a proper conversation about it. It was beautiful. I was totally gobsmacked, but at the same time not surprised at all. We both cried a bit, then laughed, then cried some more. E told me he’d been planning to propose properly the next day, with a ring and without his anne. He’d told her his secret plan and she clearly hadn’t been able to contain herself*.

If I’m honest, this is not how I imagined being proposed to would be, of course. But then so few things in the international love club are. Yet again, without a common frame of relationship reference, we are forced to make up our own story as we go along here. And I love it all the more for that.

* For those of you who aren’t sure, this method of proposing is not a Turkish tradition! All of my English friends have assumed this to be the case, but when I relayed the story to his nieces and nephews, they fell about laughing. Apparently it’s classic behaviour from E’s mother. 

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