He is a handsome man in his 50s, with a white face, green eyes, and a gray stripe through his hair. He is well educated. He has never been married. He is an old friend of my late father. He even resembles him, inside and out. He lives far away, in Sweden. We call him Uncle Amjad.

He offered to send money to help my family. I said if he tried, I’d just send it back. He praised my mother for the way she’s raising us. He said my father was lucky to have had her as a wife.

Then he asked me to marry him. He told me I’d be his spoiled princess. He said he’d make all my dreams come true.

I’m seriously considering it. Why not? He could be my savior, the man who could put me on a magic carpet and carry me from a land of despair to a world where wishes and ambitions stand a chance of being fulfilled. I would move to Sweden, where I could study and have a good life, and Uncle Amjad would take care of me and treat me like a princess. It sounds so much better than staying in Syria, a country that is falling apart.

I told my mother about it. She was furious. She yelled at me for a long time. And then she calmed down and started explaining to me how dangerous it would be for me to accept his offer.

“He is 30 years older than you,” she said. “You won’t be able to understand him. He won’t understand you, either. This is not right for you—try to find your own way. You’re still young. Please, don’t waste yourself like that. You’ll regret it. Marriage is not about relying on someone else completely; it is about sharing. Such a relationship will never be balanced. He would just be like a financier for your ambitions, instead of being a life partner.”

I always trust my mother, no matter what. So for now, my notions of Uncle Amjad have been dashed. But would it really be so bad to marry him? How much worse could that life, as Uncle Amjad’s wife, be than what I’m going through now? It seems like it would be much a more peaceful existence, with no problems and no pain. Is that too much to ask? Is it wrong of me to want it? I need your advice, please. ♦

Marah’s diary is produced in collaboration with Syria Deeply, a digital news outlet covering the Syrian crisis. It was translated from the Arabic by Mais Istanbelli.