Sixteen-year-old Omar has proposed! I'm sharing the warm moment, hoping all of you will see the heart and humor in this passage for me. The dear boy is smitten with me, and I delicately find joy in exchanges with him each day at the gate.
I am still unclear as to which point in Iraqi culture brings a boy into social acceptance as a man, but I'm confident my dear young friend Omar is convinced that he's equipped to make an adult offer and request of me. Omar is somewhere in the middle of the birth order of eight children and lives in the neighboring village to our base. He walks to his five-dollar-a-day job of trash cleanup and general gopher tasks. His one year plus of working with US forces on our base has done him well, and he now functions as the primary provider for his family -- father, mother, and four siblings still at home.
His broad smile fills his entire face. He acts as an unofficial interpreter for gate personnel whenever a contracted interpreter can't be found. He's respectful and articulate, and he has a great sense of humor.
Thank goodness the boy(man) is not any older than he is, or I might be tempted by the offer! Still it is so often music to my ears to hear him in that distinct Iraqi accent asking, "When we get married, me and you?" later followed by, "Come with me to my home in the village."
Sadly, Omar, I cannot accept. But a woman could not be more honored than to have a man(boy) of such heart offer everything he has! How could I find anything other than joy in this child who thinks I walk on water? Every happy wish upon him and his family. May he find everything he's looking for and much more.