I often use a give-stuff-away web site to get rid of things we don’t need and that aren’t worth enough money for me to try to sell them. Today a visitor found her way to our house through the web site, and it turned out quite a touching encounter.
Let’s call her Aisha. She came to Sweden from Northern Africa a few years ago, an educated middle-aged person who’s had good office jobs and remained single past 40. When I asked about husband and children she burst into tears. “I don’t understand why anyone would want to behave like he did!” And she told me her story.
Aisha married an older man who lived in Sweden, someone who spoke her language and shared her faith. They talked on the phone for some time, then met and shortly got married. It turned sour fast. He wouldn’t quit using the dating app. He just sat around with his phone or watching TV. He cheated on her, beat her, spat at her, while she did all the housework. After a few years a women’s shelter group helped her find somewhere to live and get a divorce.
But this is by no means a broken woman. Aisha speaks functional Swedish and English plus fluent French and Arabic. She works as temp staff with special needs kids in school. She takes night classes in Swedish and aims to qualify as an assistant accountant. And she loves books. So she dried her eyes, filled her wheeled suitcase with non-fic and dictionaries in Swedish, and I accompanied her back to the commuter train. We are welcome to her place for tagine and cous-cous any time.