Amy had little in her blonde head but the conviction, mostly derived from her Mills and Boon reading, that one day her prince would come, sweep her off her feet into married bliss and true love for ever more.
By the time she was twenty she had rejected the proposals of Gavin, James, Michael and Tony. None had matched her picture of her prince.
By the time she was twenty-five, she had rejected Adam, Jim, Matthew, Luke and Spiros (discovered on a holiday on a Greek Island). Bad breath, short legs, a lack of money and a tendency to watch football all the time had done for them in Amy’s mind.
As she approached thirty-five, she was beginning to get worried. Bill had been very persistent, was kind and gentle, but not what she would call a soul mate. Kevin – well, no prince would be called Kevin!
So when Darim turned up, tall, handsome, dark hair and just the suggestion of a beard, with eyes that seemed only for her, she swooned into his arms with alacrity. Princes didn’t come any better than this.
He told her his father was Egyptian, his mother French – which accounted for his rather sexy accent. His manners were perfect, he was introduced to her parents and charmed them out of their armchairs into a comfortable restaurant for a meal.
Amy and Darim were married at a small office, by a very fat man calling himself a Superintendant Registrar, with a couple of Darim’s friends as witnesses. Afterwards they moved into Darim’s apartment on Canary Wharf. Amy would have liked a big white wedding, but Darim explained that he had been brought up Muslim and this was not the way. He said when they visited his family, they would have a typical Egyptian celebration, and told her of the food, the music and the big family and neighbourhood gathering. Amy was content with this. Not all princes were the same. And Canary Wharf was quite something. Far better than the little suburban boxes her friends inhabited with their boring husbands.
After about six months, Darim said they were going to Egypt to meet his family. Amy was rather nervous, but packed clothes for a short stay and parties in a hot country.
When they finally arrived, after a long flight and an even longer car journey, Darim took her into a boring-looking building, which however, opened into a pleasant courtyard, with a couple of palm trees and a fountain. Three burka-clad bodies stood silently ready to greet her.
This is Abda, my first wife, he said, as the first, bulkiest body came forward. And this is Sabiha, my second wife, and the second body came forward. This is Tahira, my sister. The children are all at school. Go with Abda, and she will show you your room, and give you your clothes. Your name will in future be Lamisah, which means soft to the touch.
Amy was horrified, jet-lagged, extremely tired and longing to have a pee. How did she converse with these black bodies? What had happened to her prince? How on earth could she get out of here?
After an hour of confusion, she had discovered the universal word of ‘wee wee’ and the joys of an earth closet. Inside, Abda, Sabiha and Tahira had removed their veils, to display an elderly face, a worried face and a lovely, dark skinned long haired beauty. Tahira spoke fairly good English, and explained that as Darim’s third wife, she would come last in the pecking order, and was really there to bear Darim a son. Both Abda and Sabiha had had girls, and Darim, like all Moslem men, was desperate for a son.
Amy cried herself to sleep every night for two months. Nothing had turned out right for her. She thought kindly of Bill and some of the others and wished she was back in England, married or single.
At the end of two months she was pregnant, and spent seven unhappy, hot and uncomfortable months inside the compound. Unable to get out, having to give her letters home to Darim, who she now saw as an evil philanderer, and who virtually raped her every night.
In due course she had a baby boy, who Darim named Mohammed, and proudly showed him to all his very large family. Darim was like a dog with two tails, and told Amy that she would bear lots of future sons for him.
Not if I know it, thought Amy with bitterness. But there was no way out. Watched at all times by Abda and Sabiha, who didn’t trust this blond Englishwoman, pregnant again soon after Mohammed’s birth, Amy’s life faded into unhappy boredom.
As soon as Mohammed could toddle, he followed Darim around everywhere. Darim was pleased and proud of his little son, and it became obvious to all that Mohammed was Darim’s. Amy cuddled her second little baby boy, who she firmly called Isaac, although Darim insisted on giving him the second name of Issam. He was going to be hers.
© Gillian Peall