Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Brides over troubled waters

Published:Saturday | April 10, 2010 | 12:00 AM

There is an old joke about a man whose facial features would stop a clock. He was walking down the street with his wife when a heckler shouted at the couple, "Beauty and the beast!" The man, righteously incensed, asked indignantly, "How dare you call my wife a beast?" In the case of some high-profile Eastern weddings recently, the husbands did not wait for the hecklers, they started the attacks on their brides themselves.

Take the case of someone referred to only as an Arab ambassador. A report in the Gulf News, carried on Yahoo, stated that His Excellency called off his wedding after discovering his wife-to-be, who had worn a face-covering veil whenever they met, was bearded and cross-eyed. The ambassador claimed that he had only met the woman a few times, during which she had hidden her face behind a niqab, or face-covering veil. After the marriage contract was signed, the ambassador attempted to kiss his bride-to-be, upon which he discovered she had facial hair and was cross-eyed.

The ambassador told an Islamic Sharia court in the United Arab Emirates that he was tricked into the marriage as the woman's mother had shown his own mother pictures of the bearded one's sister instead of the woman the ambassador ended up marrying. The ambassador sued for the contract to be annulled and also demanded the woman pay him 500,000 dirhams (US$136,000) for clothes, jewellery and other gifts he had bought for her. The court annulled the contract but rejected the ambassador's demand for compensation.

One, of course, wonders what further wonders, mysteries maybe, the ambassador would have discovered had he ventured further south in his attempt to get his money's worth - perhaps sights more stunning than the hirsute abundance of her physiognomy. It might have been enough to make the ambassador look askance, if not completely cross-eyed.

malik and mirza

The other incident happened in Pakistan and India, two countries that are geographically close but extremely distant in terms of friendship and trust. It does not take much to start a war between them and an event that led to rejoicing among the moderates of both countries almost led to friction and hostility.

Even though they are both Muslims, when it was announced that one of Pakistan's golden boys of cricket, former captain Shoaib Malik, was marrying India's female tennis star, the glamorous Sania Mirza, it was hoped that the union would help to improve the relationship between both countries. Sania is the highest-ranked female tennis player ever from India, with a career-high ranking of 27 in singles and 18 in doubles. She is the first Indian woman to be seeded in a Grand Slam tennis tournament. She was the first Indian woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament, the 2005 US Open. She teamed up with Mahesh Bhupathi to contest the mixed doubles event at the 2009 Australia Open and became the first Indian woman to win a Grand Slam title. She is rightly considered hot stuff in and out of the tennis world.

Malik's career is more mixed than Mirza's doubles. According to cricinfo.com, "There is almost no role in a cricket side that Shoaib Malik hasn't filled, so much so that over 10 years into his career, nobody is sure what his precise and best role is ... He was for long earmarked as a potential captain - the late Bob Woolmer thought him the sharpest tack in Pakistan's set-up - but a stint with the captaincy was troubled, unimaginative and ended badly. It got even worse when the board banned him for a year in March 2010 as part of its unprecedented action on senior players after a disastrous tour of Australia."

Malik's record includes stints with the Delhi Daredevils and the Sialkot Stallions, and perhaps this is a clue to the problems he encountered immediately after his wedding to Sania was announced.

a double-crossed bride?

A woman named Ayesha Siddiqui registered a complaint of cheating against Malik with the Hyderabad police, claiming that Malik was already married to her. "The police, who questioned Malik on Monday morning and seized his passport - they later said it was for scrutiny and had not been impounded - said the sections under which the complaint had been filed covered harassment, cheating to marry another girl and criminal intimidation, including threats," cricinfo.com stated. A news report from Hyderabad revealed that Malik admitted to signing the nikahnaama, or wedding contract, with Ayesha, but claimed it was invalid as he had been misled over the identity of the girl he was marrying. He told the police that he had been "cheated" by the Siddiqui family and tricked into marriage.

"I was wrongly made to believe that the pictures Ayesha had sent me were of the girl I was marrying. I feel terrible about the mess created by a family that has caused a great grief to my own people and the family of my bride-to-be," Malik said. Malik claimed that even though he visited Ayesha's house several times before and after the marriage, the woman in the photographs was missing and he was told that a woman he saw around the house, who the family claimed was Ayesha's sister, was actually Ayesha.

There are questions about the consummation of the marriage - was it one, as Hamlet said, devoutly to be wished or was it just one damp thing after another? Did Ayesha have Malik by the piece of equipment he uses to bowl his off-breaks? Whatever happened between them, Ayesha has now given her blessing to the union of the two stars - one cricket and one tennis. Perhaps Malik will have a ball and maybe Sania will make a racket provided that they are not unstrung by this whole fiasco, or Malik's batting form on sticky wickets has not been sorely affected.

Tony Deyal was last seen saying he always knew that the tennis star would triumph and that the game would end at 'love all'.