A Jaha in the Metaverse—fiction by Fadi Zaghmout

3 December, 2023,
“Jaha” is a traditional ceremony used to formally ask for a girl’s hand in marriage. The chief/elder/guardian of one tribe/family approaches the chief/elder/guardian of another to request the hand of a girl in marriage. The women, including the bride, are not allowed to attend.

 

 

Fadi Zaghmout

Translated from the Arabic by Rana Asfour

 

I don’t like peculiar things, and I stay away from anything that’s ‘wild’ or unconventional. I’ve become an expert at controlling every one of my body’s movements. I adjust my muscles to position my body in a manner that conveys dignity and modesty, to self and place. And yet, for all my efforts, there’s one muscle that always lets me down. A truant that singularly, stubbornly, opposes me. It insists on sabotaging every painstaking effort I make to present a wholesome, respectable image of myself. My failure to control it should not be consigned to a lack of trying.

And so, there’s nothing I could have done any differently. I was betrayed at my most vulnerable, when all my defenses were down. The moment my eyes fell on the ‘illustrious’ Saeed, I knew I’d lost the battle. I blame HER. She went berserk, violently contracting, pulsating, and pushing against me like a caged madwoman. This time, we had both lost our minds.

I have a confession to make before I go on with telling this story. On that day, in all truthfulness and in fairness, Saeed tricked us both. Concealed beneath his shells as some would say. Much like me, he too was in control of all his muscles, save one. But unlike my muscle, tucked out of sight and nestled deep within my ribcage, Saeed’s rogue muscle occupied the entire space within his skull.

He confused me with his errant, crazy ideas. It left me constantly questioning whether I was even in love with him. And yet, as at the start of all relationships, the weirdness was entertaining. It made me laugh. He was funny, never insane. Honestly, I never thought he was being serious, or that any of his crazy notions would lead anywhere, and I never imagined, not in a million years, that I would become an accessory to their manifestation.

This takes me back to the first time we went out together. We had barely sat at a coffee shop in Abdoun, when across the street from us passed a strange-looking man, with disheveled hair and tattered, hole-ridden clothes. He seemed to be lost, confused, talking to himself in a way similar to those who’ve been struck in the mind. I initially dismissed him as a beggar, who, by force of habit, I always ignored and kept at a distance to avoid any trouble. Generally, that was what most people I knew did anyway. But not Saeed. He shouted out to the man to get his attention and beckoned him over with his index finger. As soon as the man approached us, pausing at Saeed’s right, Saeed promptly initiated an extensive conversation with him. He asked him his name, inquired about his well-being, and his current pursuits in life. He didn’t pause once to consider the man’s unintelligible answers despite his obvious struggle to pronounce his words correctly. When Saeed had run out of steam, he pulled a dinar out of his pocket and placed it in the man’s palm, then he asked him, “What do you think of my girlfriend?” When the man, clearly embarrassed, did not answer, he asked him, “Is she pretty?”

I was baffled and irked by Saeed’s attitude. What man asks a male stranger to comment on his girl’s appearance? Nevertheless, I held my temper in check, conjured a wane smile on my face, took a sip of my tea and placed it back on the table. Worried he’d try something else, I glared at him, and with my teeth clenched, I growled his name, as a warning.

Luckily, the embarrassing situation came to a quick conclusion when Saeed abruptly ceased his shenanigans. I chose to overlook the incident without making any comments. In a way, I was impressed by Saeed’s self-confidence, the ease with which he communicated with strangers, and his magnanimous spirit that allowed him to break through class barriers. I convinced myself that Saeed possessed a superior ability to assess danger than I did. Consequently, I deemed his actions justified, as he had correctly discerned that the man had never posed the threat that I mistakenly believed he did. However, I did question my baseless anxieties, and my general prudishness. Wouldn’t it be more beneficial if I were more spontaneous, and less reserved with others?

Indeed, that’s what I set out to do. As I got used to having Saeed by my side, I also began to tentatively observe his every move. With a cautious admiration, I analyzed his approach, starting from the moment he involved himself in a situation, skillfully guiding his opponent towards a physical altercation, and then deftly diffusing the situation towards a peaceful resolution. He had this strange ability to turn the tables on his opponent and to end things in his favor. He had stamina for prolonged confrontations, seeming to enjoy the tense atmosphere they generated. He was my complete opposite. I, who unravels at the mere whiff of any impending calamity — whether significant or trivial. And yet, as the days passed, my attitude mellowed. I became better equipped to keep up with him on his adventures. In fact, I got so comfortable that when he started chatting with strangers out of the blue, I effortlessly joined in. I even invited them to sit with us so that both Saeed and I could get to know them. I started to accept Saeed’s suggestions to go outside Amman and spend the day at the Dead Sea or take rides in his car to the outskirts of the city, even after the sun had long set. But I admit that my penchant for being spontaneous and adventurous was reserved only for the moments I spent with him. It is what made me feel connected to him and unwilling to be apart.

Saeed’s adventures were many and his plans creative and unpredictable. However, he outdid himself on that day when he asked me to join him at one of the Sweifieh Village cafés. Taking advantage of my composed demeanor and harmonious disposition, he discussed what he perceived as a “groundbreaking and inventive approach” to our Jaha.

“Hey, how about we have our Jaha ceremony in the Metaverse?” he blurted.

I laughed at what I assumed to be one of his whimsical jokes, even as he elaborated on how we would be establishing a precedent. My mood quickly sobered when I realized he wasn’t sharing in my laughter.

“Are you serious?” I asked, slightly panicked.

“Absolutely,” he answered me, deadpan, before launching into the rationale behind his crazy idea. “Tamara, my love, you know how difficult and narrow-minded your father is, and how mulishly obstinate my own is. It’s going to be near impossible to join them under one roof because, if for any reason, they should disagree on something during the Jaha, they would instantly be at each other’s throat.”

He had a point. Our fathers nursed an old grudge that dated back to their childhood, when they shared the same classroom. The situation became tense again when a ‘well-meaning’ person took a photo of Saeed and me in his car and sent it to my father. He became extremely angry and contacted Saeed’s father, threatening severe consequences if his son came near his daughter. His father had no choice but to submit to the threat. Out of respect for customs and traditions, he felt compelled, albeit reluctantly, to apologize for his son’s behavior. He unleashed all his frustration on Saeed, promising severe punishment if his son did not sever all contact with me.

Neither of us complied. It wasn’t a decision we could live with. I was deeply in love with Saeed and he never liked being told what to do. From our perspective, we had only two choices: either continue our relationship, with the risk of being exposed by ‘well-meaning’ people (of which there were plenty around) or try to convince both of our fathers that the best way to solve this problem was to publicly acknowledge and formalize our relationship through an expeditious engagement. The first option seemed risky because my father assigned my younger brother, who is a university student and a bit of a pip-squeak, to keep an eye on me. Even though I’d been able to outsmart him multiple times and appease him with a small payment and a mixed grill meal from Al-Quds restaurant, I couldn’t completely secure his loyalty. The second option was just as difficult because it meant confronting, challenging, and pressuring our parents to support our relationship. Despite its obvious precariousness, we chose the latter. We figured that we were not only taking a well-thought-out risk, but also that our relationship would be shame-free and blessed by God. Even though everyone in my family supported my decision to marry Saeed, my father was hesitant to agree. However, I finally managed to convince him by threatening to elope with Saeed to another country.

I didn’t disagree with Saeed’s idea about a formal Jaha via the virtual world, even though the whole thing seemed a bit strange. I was certain that the meeting of our parents under one roof would, most likely, lead to unfortunate results. My pressing fear was that my father would reject the idea because he thought it would make our family look less important and devalue my prestige as a bride. But Saeed managed to convince him by promising that he would ensure various respected tribal leaders, influential people, and well-known personalities and ‘influencers’ would log into the event. Saeed also confidently assured me that it would be much easier for the elderly members of both families to attend the ceremony from the comfort of their homes instead of having to travel to it in person.


The following day, our minds firmly made up, we proceeded to the offices of a prominent Virtual Reality party organizer situated in the Abdali Boulevard area. We were fortunate to have secured an appointment at such short notice, thanks to Saeed’s cousin who knew him. Otherwise, we would’ve had to wait for weeks, even months.

We were instructed to arrive, at least, two hours before the appointment to wait our turn in the crowded hall. We whiled the hours weighing out the various options on offer regarding the virtual halls, locations, and metaphysical spaces available in the Metaverse in order to arrange for reservations. I had to exert a doubled effort to curb back Saeed’s enthusiasm to pick out the strangest locations. At a time when I was looking for more elegant, and traditional options, Saeed was eyeing all that was different and wild.

He logged me into a hall that looked like it was on the surface of the moon, where alongside our guests, we would get to experience zero gravity. Saeed lunged into the air, laughing with childlike abandon, enjoying the lightweight feel of his body. “Ha! what do you think?” he said.

When he caught the look on my face, he quickly moved us on to another hall floating above a large expanse of ​​red sand. A second later, when I realized we were on planet Mars, and before he could ask for my opinion, I forcefully leaned my body against him and pushed him out of the Metaverse. Regaining composure, I earnestly appealed to him to consider the matter more seriously. Subsequently, he opted for a spacious hall, suspended amidst the clouds, affording a panoramic view of the city of Amman. Despite the breathtaking view, the elevation made me nauseous. I grabbed on to his arm and begged him to take us back down to the ground. Although he immediately complied, it did not stop him from mercilessly teasing me. He continued to transition us between the peculiar and the wondrous until my mood completely deteriorated and I threatened to depart from the Metaverse, forsaking the project entirely. He nudged me to choose an ethereal hall located atop the Citadel Mountain, offering a splendid vista of the ancient city of Amman. However, by then, my patience had completely dissolved.

“We’re looking for a hall to conduct our Jaha, a formal, might I add traditional, marriage proposal. We’re not here for a wedding venue. Focus. What the hell is wrong with you?” I shouted, fuming.

Finally, it was our turn to meet Sami, the party organizer. As soon we told him what we were looking to do, he asked us to repeat our request to make sure he completely understood. “A Jaha? You want to organize a traditional Jaha in the Metaverse?” he asked excitedly.

When we, yet again, confirmed our request, he was ecstatic.

“Bravo,” he said, clapping his hands in delight. “Firstly, I absolutely love the idea” he said, giving a thumbs up with his right hand as he began to list his reasons. “Secondly, I greatly admire boldness,” he added, extending his index finger. “And lastly,” he continued tapping his third finger, “I have a profound appreciation for our heritage, and I hold concerns about its gradual disappearance in the face of the challenges we face in preserving it in our modern era.”

He expressed his support once again and surprised us even more by waiving his fees. He explained that he saw it as a small personal contribution to us as a couple, for our bold and innovative idea. His desire was to turn our virtual Jaha ceremony into a success story to show that the Jordanian identity could still be preserved even when using innovative methods that were more in tune with the current times. Nevertheless, my intuition suggested that he had seized upon a profitable venture. My suspicions were validated once he began to show us the different halls, categorized on price, guest capacity, and any additional bespoke amenities. Perusing the offers, I liked a hall designed by Zuhair Murad.

“It’s very plain and expensive,” Saeed objected. “Choose another one. It’s wasteful to spend such a substantial amount on renting this hall for merely an hour.”

At that particular moment, I desired no other hall. Moreover, I was absolutely not willing to give him the freedom to choose, especially after he had taken me on a dizzying, wasteful journey across the virtual universe, spanning from the Moon to Mars.

“Saeed, have you forgotten who the bride is here?” I said, compelled to remind him.

“You,” he said

“Who will bear the costs of this ceremony?” I asked him.

“Your father.”

“Okay. So, please back off,” I said.

After successfully putting him in place, I carefully selected the necessary items and coordinated with Sami to arrange the chairs, tables, coffee cups, Kunafa plates and virtual sweets. These would be distributed to the guests after my father accepted the marriage proposal. I turned my attention to picking out a special design for the coffee cups that have become important at virtual celebrations lately. These cups are like beautiful works of art that people can keep and treasure as collectibles.

“Okay, how will your family members enter the hall?” inquired Sami, catching us off guard with his unexpected question.

I had assumed that the guests from my family would suddenly appear inside the hall upon logging into the virtual world, similar to the men from Saeed’s family. Saeed seemed to be under the same impression. However, our assumption did not please Sami, who shook his head in distaste and stated, “This is disrespectful to you and your guests.”

He suggested we allocate a nearby area for our guests to gather, where virtual luxury cars would be prepared to transport them to the hall. As this part concerned Saeed’s family, I found him addressing it with enthusiasm, giving free rein to his ideas and asking Sami to add a group of camels and horses to accompany the impressive car procession.

“Camels and horses?” I said, surprised at his request. “Saeed, my love, have you lost your mind?” I asked.

He calmly turned towards me.

“Who is paying for this convoy?” he asked

“Your father.”

“Okay, please back off,” he said, a malicious smile curving his lips.

He had wasted no time in getting back at me for my previous comment. I chose to remain silent, refusing to engage with him. Instead, I ignored him and resumed my discussion with Sami in order to finalize the remaining financial obligations. We were offered the opportunity to enhance our documentation of the occasion by adding the services of a photographer who would take photos and videos from various angles, ensuring a comprehensive record of the event. We agreed. He graciously included special vouchers for the attendees, courtesy of Zara Metaverse Fashion store, offering discounts on men’s suits and formal wear. The Jaha would take place in two weeks and so we left to notify our families.


On the day of the Jaha, my father, brother, and cousins ​​entered the formal guest room and closed the door behind them to log into the Metaverse’s hall for our Jaha ceremony. They had to be there before Saeed’s family convoy arrived in the Metaverse. The women of the family congregated in the kitchen and living room at our house, because we had forgotten to add a virtual back room for them to gather in when we had organized matters with Sami. We asked him to include one a few days after we had seen him, but he told us that their company policy did not allow them to modify the spaces on offer. Unfortunately, our contract did not allow for the selected hall to be replaced with another. As a result, the women were excluded from the virtual event.

I now stood among them in the kitchen smiling, while attempting to conceal my nervousness from everyone. Sometimes I looked at my watch and sometimes out the window, waiting for my cousin Kareem to show up.

“Where is Kareem, and why is he late?” I asked my uncle’s wife, for the third time that afternoon.

“He’s on his way, my love. He will arrive any minute. No need to worry.”

But I was concerned, not only about his potential tardiness, but also about the possibility that he might break his promise to me.

Two days ago, I’d approached Kareem seeking his assistance in finding a resolution to my predicament. I had expressed my discontent regarding my exclusion from the Jaha ceremony. I desired to be present while the patriarch of his family formally sought my father’s consent for my hand in marriage. When I voiced my wish to Saeed, he disregarded my request. It had meant nothing to him. He found my presence unnecessary and was ambivalent about helping me or even suggesting any of his ingenious solutions. So, following his usual madness, I decided to come up with a solution of my own. It was only natural for me to seek assistance from Kareem, renowned for his technical prowess in breaching cybersecurity gateways. He had promised to lend me his avatar to attend the Jaha ceremony.

Initially, he was taken aback by my proposition and promptly voiced his objection asserting that he had ceased engaging in any activities that violated the law. However, I was not taking no for an answer and knew exactly how I was going to make him concede. I remembered his infatuation with my closest friend whom I utilized as leverage. I proposed my help to set up a meeting with her in exchange for his assistance. He complied immediately and we mutually agreed not to tell anyone of our plan to avoid jeopardizing either party’s safety.

I phoned Kareem several times but his phone was switched off which only made me more anxious and nervous. I almost called Saeed to ask him to cancel the entire thing, but I lacked the audacity to cause embarrassment to all parties involved. I couldn’t stop looking out the kitchen window and fidgeted nervously, no longer caring if anyone noticed. When he finally showed up, half an hour later, I was ready to explode in his face. I pulled him by the collar and dragged him into my room closing the door behind us. I wanted to beat him to a pulp but I was running out of time. So, with frayed nerves, I watched him as he composedly pulled up a chair next to my bed and settled himself down.

I snatched his bag from his hands and retrieved his virtual goggles, hurriedly placing them over my eyes. “Wait, wait,” he chuckled, amused, retrieving them back.

I looked at him, barely suppressing my anger and frustration, as he stood to remove a small device from his pants-pocket. He held it in front of my face and asked me to look at it so he could create an imprint of my eye. Once the device emitted a faint sound signaling that the scan was complete, he pressed tightly on the device releasing an electronic chip that he inserted into the goggles.

“All yours,” he said.

I hurriedly placed the goggles back onto my eyes and logged into the ceremony hall looking around me to take in my surroundings.

I was happy to see the men of my family all dressed up and chatting as they awaited the arrival of Saeed’s family. I looked around the hall and made sure that the arrangements we had agreed upon with Sami had been implemented as we had requested. There was a small table on which rested a pot of black coffee and the coffee cups with the designs I had chosen. When I picked up the pot, the pungent smell of ground coffee beans greeted my nose and I wished I could taste it. I was relieved to find that the photographer was also there.

A sudden jolt from behind caught me completely off guard. Uncertain whether it was one of the guests or Kareem, whom I had left in my room, I turned around to discover my pip-squeak brother smiling at me.

“Kareem!!” he greeted enthusiastically.

At first, I hesitated to give an answer for fear that my voice would give me away, but, steeling my nerves, I took the plunge nonetheless.

“Muhammad,” I called with equal enthusiasm.

I was relieved when I heard Kareem’s voice uttering my words. My apprehension completely dissolved, I spread my arms and hugged Muhammad and blessed him.

“Congratulations on Tamara’s engagement. Ogbalak,” I said. “Where is my uncle?” I asked, in an excuse to get away from him. When he pointed to where my father was sitting, I excused myself.

I made to head towards my father, but then changed course and rushed to the hall doors just in time to catch the resounding sound of approaching footsteps and the neighing of horses. I gathered that the procession bearing Saeed’s family was about to arrive. I remained silent and watched them enter the hall. I was relieved to see Saeed enter the room with his usual stride, his flabby paunch and splayed knees; his avatar identical to his persona in the real world. I was suddenly seized by an irresistible impulse to run up to him and proudly reveal what I had done. I wanted to see his reaction when he realized that I had become as adventurous and daring as him. But I restrained myself and raised my hand to return his greeting after he looked at me and smiled, erroneously thinking that I was Kareem. After the men of his family took their seats in a row across from my family, I hurriedly looked around for a place to sit. When pip-squeak motioned to the empty seat beside him, I did not hesitate.

I surveyed the posse of men that Saeed had brought with him, and I smiled when I realized that he had kept his promise to bring along the finest. Present were three high-profile ‘influencers.’ One was famous for sharing captivating travel content experiences, another for mouthwatering recipes, and the third, who was the most well-known, for his hilarious sketches about married life and his daily pranks on his wife. At the end of each day the couple end up divorcing, only to make up again the next day and go through it all again.

The three sat sandwiched between Saeed, his father, and the senior members of his family in the front row. The prankster occupied the seat directly opposite my father. Judging by his seating position, I was worried that Saeed might have entrusted him with the task of giving the day’s main speech to ask for my hand in marriage. Was Saeed out of his mind? I almost got up from my seat to scold him, but I quickly gave up the idea when I pictured the crowd’s reaction at Kareem’s unseemly and bizarre behavior. I closed my eyes and prayed I was wrong. Unfortunately, I wasn’t. When I opened my eyes again, the prankster king had already risen to address the audience, evoking chuckles even before uttering a single word. It really felt like a stand-up comedy show than a formal gathering.

“Peace, brothers,” he began. “Who among you is a married man?”

Hands were raised.

“May God help you. A necessary evil,” he said, laughing.

The crowd broke out into peals of laughter, except for my father who kept a scowl on his face.

I was fuming.

Noticing my father’s reaction, the speaker abruptly switched tactics, adopting a more somber tone.

“Joking aside, I would like to thank the honorable Naddwa family for choosing me to speak on their behalf on this day in which we seek the union of Tamara —our future daughter — to our son Saeed, according to the Book of Allah and the Sunna of his Prophet.”

The speaker then turned to Saeed and motioned to him to take his place beside him.

“Brothers, our honorable groom needs no introduction nor anyone to vouch for him for he is a decent respectable and highly educated man, from an upstanding family.” He abruptly broke off his speech, and turned, smiling, towards Saeed and whispered audibly. “Hey man, are you certain you don’t want to change your mind?”

Saeed, smiling back, shook his head sideways, confirming his resolve to go through with this, while the men’s laughter echoed around the room.

“Come again? You’re certain? What sane person gets married these days?” he said, to the roaring cheers and heckles of the men in the room.

Just then, the influencer placed his hand on Saeed’s shoulder and turned to address the crowd.

“It seems Saeed’s mind is definitely made up. But before you agree to give him your daughter, I would like to ask him three questions. A simple test before you’re stuck with him for life. Ready Saeed?”

“Ready,” replied Saeed, nodding his head.

“Let’s start with an easy one. If one day you should return home and Tamara hasn’t cooked, what will you do?”

Before Saeed could open his mouth, the speaker had more to say.

“I’m going to give you three options to choose from: one: you divorce her, two: you send her back to her parents’ house, and three: you order take-away.”

“I order take-away,” Saeed answered, oozing calm and confidence.

“Second question: If Tamara tells you ‘My love, we must split the housework between us,’ how would you react?”

“What? No options?” answered Saeed.

“Nope. You’re on your own on this one.”

“Tamara and I are agreed. we’ll be sharing the housework between us. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

I did not like the questions or the manner in which they were being asked, but I admired Saeed’s answers. Like me, it seemed that everyone was primed to hear the third question.

“Saeed, I think everyone agrees with me that you have successfully answered the first two questions. And now for the third and final question: Were Tamara and your mother with you on a sinking boat, which one of them would you save first, your mother or your wife?”

What a silly, redundant, and unimaginative question, I thought. But Saeed remained unfazed.

“You have to ask Tamara who she’ll save first, because neither I nor my mother know how to swim.”

I was bewildered at Saeed’s candor and taken aback that he couldn’t swim, the same man who bragged of his love for adventure and his fear of nothing. The same man who accused me constantly of being over-cautious and cowardly. I made a mental note to confront him about this later, even as I smiled and clapped my hands with the rest of the men.

“Our boy here doesn’t swim,” the influencer turned to address the row of men from my family. “Do you still want him? Or is this a deal breaker? I can assure you we still covet this union. Your Tamara for our Saeed. What do you say?”

Just then the speaker turned around and directly addressed my father.

“Hopefully, before the coffee gets cold?”

A deafening silence descended on the room as everyone held their breath awaiting my father’s response. But it never came. My father remained as immobile as a statue. For a moment, I thought he was angered by the influencer’s jester-like shenanigans and had made up his mind to block the proceedings. But, even then, he could’ve at least said something. The speaker addressed him again.

“What will it be, Abu Tamara?”

Again, there was no answer from my father.

Furious with my father’s silent treatment, Saeed’s father intervened. “Are you turning our offer down ya Abu Tamara?”

My father didn’t so much as budge.

I panicked. What if my father took offense at Abu Saeed’s tone, and things escalated into a fight. Thank God, I’d listened to Saeed after all and agreed to a virtual ceremony. I leaned forward in my seat to see if my father was angry or was merely collecting his thoughts when the loud-mouthed speaker’s shouting intercepted my thoughts. “The man is not with us. Someone should check if he’s alright.”

Pip-squeak and I sprang from our chairs to check on our father. His avatar sat motionless. I was worried. Maybe he’d gotten angry and withdrawn from the ceremony before anyone could notice? But then, why would he leave his avatar behind? What if he’d had a heart attack or worse? Panicked, I retreated to the back of the hall and exited the virtual world.

“What’s wrong? Did they out you?” Kareem asked worried.

“No,” I huffed, running to the guest room in search of my father. The men were all there, including pip-squeak, their cyber goggles still on. I rushed to the kitchen to ask my mother if she’d seen my father.

“He’s at the ceremony. What’s happening? And where did you disappear to?”

There was no time to answer any of her questions. I needed to find my father. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find him. That is until I tried the bathroom door and found it was locked.

“Baba?”

“Yes, my darling.”

“What are you doing in there? They’re all waiting for you at the ceremony.” I couldn’t believe he’d chosen the worst-timed moment to use the toilet.

“I’ll only be a moment. I’m coming.”

“Come on baba. Hurry up. The men are about to get up and leave. They have no idea where you are.”

It took my father a full five minutes to exit the bathroom. The longest minutes of my entire life. As soon as he opened the door, I pounced on him and dragged him back to the ceremony as fast as I could. I sat beside him in the living room, not daring to leave him on his own. I didn’t dare log back into the ceremony. I relaxed only after I heard him mutter a few words of apology, and then nod his head in agreement to something that was being said. He finally smiled, and offered his blessing.

It was finally over. The men had drunk the coffee and the women were busy, in the real world, distributing the kunafa in celebration. We had already made sure that the women in Saeed’s family had received their order as well.

The following day, our unconventional ceremony made it into the local headlines, with a captivating title proclaiming, “A Father Answering Nature’s Call Nearly Sabotages the First Jaha in the Metaverse.” Our ‘scandal’ spread like wildfire as curious crowds scavenged the article for details.

No one found out about my role in the events of that day. It lingers as a memory that I still employ to shut down any outlandish ideas that Saeed suggests to me.

Today, several years into our journey together, Saeed is still busy racking his brain trying to find a solution for people seeking to relieve themselves within the confines of the Metaverse. He also insists that if we had not been the first to update the age-old Jaha, the ceremony would have altogether ceased to exist, bringing to an end a long-standing, and much-loved tradition.

 

Fadi Zaghmout is a Jordanian author and gender activist. He holds an MA in Creative Writing and Critical Thinking from Sussex University in the UK. He has four published novels: The Bride of Amman, Heaven on Earth, Laila and Ebra wa Kushtuban. His work has been translated to English, French and Italian. In 2021, Fadi was one of the finalists for UK Alumni Global Award under the category of social impact. He tweets @fadizaghmout.

Rana Asfour is the Managing Editor at The Markaz Review, as well as a freelance writer, book critic and translator. Her work has appeared in such publications as Madame Magazine, The Guardian UK and The National/UAE. She chairs the TMR English-language BookGroup, which meets online the last Sunday of every month. She tweets @bookfabulous.

JahaJordanmarriagemetaversespeculative fiction

1 comment

  1. What an amazing story, thank you Fadi Zaghmout for this twist in traditions and bringing in elements of our future selves. I wonder if you have just kickstarted a new trend and a whole new business opportunity for the daring 😃👏👏. Thank you Rana Asfour for the wonderful translation!

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