Sophia's Peace Work

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Kurdish Rumor Mill

I've a Kurdish friend who has a crush on me. I'll call him Hemin in this story. Hemin is very sweet and a genuinely good guy but I just wasn't interested. The spark or whatever is needed to jump start a relationship wasn't there. For this and many other reasons, I told him that it just couldn't happen. But I have wanted the friendship to continue. He's a good buddy here in Sulaimani and is interested in the same things I'm interested in.

I've had people tell me that I must keep him at arms length. Be professional, end the friendship. But I've resisted this. Why shouldn't we remain friends? We're both adults.

But he is hard hit by my rejection and hasn't wanted to believe it. He thinks I'll come around one day. He says that I'm making a problem. He only wants the best for me. He thinks I have "wrong thinking." I repeat to him over and over .... this isn't about him, that I care for him but only as a friend, etc. etc. etc.

I've recently, over the last few months, made some new friends here ... a few brits, a guy from Norway, and a Kurdish guy. Two of these guys I usually go to a bar with just to talk and socialize. Last week, I went to the bar alone with my new Kurdish friend (Aram, I'll call him). We sat upstairs by ourselves for about an hour talking. Later another friend joined us.

Less than 24 hours later, Hemin comes to me as if someone had just shot him.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Why did you do it?" he said in reply.

"Do what?" I said, "What are you talking about?"

"You know. What are you doing with Aram? " he said, "Don't you think of my reputation?"

That made my eyebrows raise ... mostly out of surprise. I hadn't mentioned going to the bar with Aram. The bar had been empty except for the waiters and barman. Was one a friend of Hemin and observing us, called him to report on my behavior? Being along with another Kurdish man! Oh horrors!

I told Hemin, "My life is my business and I will do with it as I wish. I'm not a Kurdish woman. As long as I don't hurt anyone, I don't see how you can think you have a right to comments on what I do. Nor do I see how I have any affect on your reputation. We are not married. I am not part of you family."

I know, actually, that going to the bar with a man in Kurdistan is, well, just not done by Kurdish women. But the bar is trying to cater to westerners and as an American, I thought in this one place I could behave a little more like I'm used to in the West. Let my hair down and relax a bit. It boggled my mind that my actions could have been reported to Hemin at all ... let alone so quickly. The rumor mill in this town truly boggles my mind.

It also goes to show that perhaps I was wrong in thinking that I could maintain some kind of friendship with this guy. Trying to remain friendly with him after saying I was not interested in a relationship with him, only seemed to give him encouragement that a relationship would eventually develop. This saddens me because he is at heart a really good and sweet guy. But where women are concerned here, guys treat "No" as an invitation to keep trying. Women are supposed to be coy and hard to get.