In a desperate move to convince me to marry the guy who proposed, my mother used a trick to get me to talk to him on the phone. What she did upset me, because it made me feel like there was something wrong with me that she needed to fix. In any case, although I refused the whole idea, I ended up talking to him.

When we started the conversation, something very strange happened to me: My legs began to shake, my eyes teared up, and my hands could not carry the phone anymore. It was as if I was talking to a guy for the first time in my life. I must have looked very silly.

He was very nice and sweet, and for a moment I was ready to give him a chance. This feeling scared me, so I told him that I could not talk at the time and ended the call. I did not understand what happened to me, or why I was disturbed and blushing. I am a university student and I’ve encountered men who expressed admiration for me before, but something was different about this guy.

He called again later and we had a long conversation. He was sweet, educated, and confident. He reminded me of my father, and maybe this was why I liked him. He sent me his picture, and my mother asked me to save it on my cellphone. I’m sure she sensed that I was leaning toward accepting the idea, and asking me to save the picture was one more tactic of hers.

After many conversations with him, things started to change. Obviously, I am not in love with him. I can’t even say that I like him yet, but there is something pulling me toward him. Frankly, I’ve begun to seriously consider his proposal. What is happening to me? How could some sweet words affect me this way? Is it normal that I’ve begun to think of sharing my life with this person? Or is it because the situation I live in is so absurd that I am uniquely vulnerable? I don’t know and I will let time tell me. I will, of course, continue my studies no matter what happens, and he actually encouraged me to do so. Anyway, my mother is very happy to see this change.

Oh, I got distracted by talking about this guy, and I forgot to update you on some things. My friends and I had an end-of-year party. We are all sophomores now. Also, my mother finally found a job as a secretary in a currency exchange company. It is a comfortable job and it pays well, but she does not love it—she misses teaching. Her new job is mostly about receiving and answering emails, and she misses the human connections that she used to make as a teacher.

I love my mother so much that I can’t imagine living away from her. She is very excited about this guy because he represents an opportunity for me to travel, start over, and leave this scary place. But I don’t want to leave her alone, and this is another reason why I am very hesitant. Also, I keep asking myself: Am I ready to start a family? What if I have a child? Am I ready to be a mother? I am really confused, and I cannot make a decision. I feel attracted to the guy, but I worry that this attraction is stemming from a need to escape from the reality I live in. ♦

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.