Leila, a compassionate young woman from San Diego:

I bumped into Majid, a young handsome man, just two days before 1998 Christmas Day. We had both procrastinated until the last moment as we were looking for small and well trimmed Christmas tree.  We were disappointed gazing at big trees and the broken braches lying on the ground.  We burst into laughter once we looked at each other and spontaneously approached each other and struck up a conversation.  Then I suggested that we had better continue our conversation at a sit down café, but instead he led me to a nearby park and we strolled around together.  It was about 9pm when we separated our ways, joyfulness of our chance encounter and our exchange of telephone numbers, for our future conversation.

We both were single and really enthusiastic about books, music and movies.  We both had our own jobs with a pretty good income.  Now we started dating.  Surprisingly enough, the two of us hit it off at our first date.  I actually found him wonderful.  I loved how worldly, charming and romantic he seemed and he even played the guitar.  I did not have a lot of experience, but I was ambitious and he was really smart.  By way of the ensuing dates, we both were discussing everything from family backgrounds to our goals for the future.  Soon the rumors were flying.  Even my friends were gossiping and betting on whether we would tie the knot?  Our relationship moved quickly.  But cultural morals  made our marriage difficult.  Majid’s family had already picked a girl as his prospective spouse, in Iran.  While my family was thrilled about my decision to marry him.  After some eight months into our relationship with no physical chemistry, Majid and sealed the deal, despite the disagreement of his family.  Majid tried his best to somehow make his family happy about his marriage, but they were too adamant to heed him, they even hung up the phone and would not talk to him.  However, we both were a happy family  together. 
We mainly focus on our jobs, while I was being praised and encouraged by my own family and at the same time Majid was being barraged with insults by his family in Iran.  In order to put an end to this kind of hostility, my parents packed up and returned to Iran, to patch up the differences with Majid’s family.  Thankfully, they were warmly received by his parents and we both felt a kind of relief and reconciliation.  After a year-and-a half of marriage, I became pregnant.  About that time, Majid decided to bring his mother here to help me out when our child was borne.  But his efforts ended in failure, to get his mother’s visa approved.  Now this aided Majid into still feeling skeptical about his family.  When I gave birth to our son, our life changed in a way that things took a turn for the best.  We both devoted ourselves to our baby boy and we felt so happy.  But I felt some sort of churning in my stomach that kept telling me something horrible was going to happen in my life.  When I was again seven months pregnant, this time with my daughter, Majid’s mother finally arrived here.  I had already assigned a room for her with all the necessary comforts and amenities.  I even vowed a pledge with myself to behave  as best as I could.  Unlike my misconception about his mother, I found her so kind in heart, she had even brought me lots of precious gifts from Iran. 
Now, our home had  become a fantastic resort for all our friends and relatives.  Among those who came during the weekends to our home were a bunch of nice attractive girls and women.  There was one woman, Shila, a sassy, smart, sexy woman who was always sticking to my husband, Majid, and mingled with him as though he were her boyfriend.  I tried to avoid any kind of overreaction.  Later, I found out that she had been Majid’s girlfriend, before she married a doctor.  Later, she had had a nasty breakup after some twelve years of marriage with that guy.  Now she was an attractive mature widow who was trying to attract Majid to herself.  As I was still pregnant with my daughter, I could not keep up with them when they all went out for dining and fun.  Once the time came and I brought my baby girl into the world, I decided to get rid of the vicious circle of Majid’s mother’s friends.  
I politely asked them to leave us alone and allow us to lead our own family life.  When I spoke up, I vividly sensed the outrage in Majid’s mother, who was trying to put revenge upon me.  After a few days, she asked Majid to accompany her to Seattle, where her daughter had fallen sick and had to undergo some kind of surgery.  With Majid gone, I felt so alone and stress made me sleepless.  After about three weeks, Majid, along with his mother, returned.  I could clearly sense that Majid was trying to distance from me enough to split up. 
Then the bubble of my happiness burst, when Majid along with mother and Shila got into an auto accident.  Initially, the three-hour drive was a fun road trip to Las Vegas.  But Majid suddenly lost control of the car and veered off the road.  Faced with this horrible and devastating tragic news, I rushed to the emergency room where things took a turn for the worst.  In his hospital gown, trying to stay calm, a small section of his hair had been shaved off in preparation for brain surgery.  Shila, who was not in critical but stable condition, was transferred to another hospital by her aunt.  I was with Majid and his mother who were recovering from their injuries.  After the stroke, his left side was left paralyzed.  A long bout with physical therapy, helped him to walk with the aid of cumbersome brace on his left leg, he still could not move his arm.  I devoted all my time taking care of my husband and his mother once their recovery process was at my home.

Conveniently, Majid developed behavior problems and eventually left home to join his sister in Seattle.  But I was still spared nothing to take care of his bedridden mother.  She finally made a gradual recovery and was able to walk on her own feet.  Emotionally she really pampered her two grandchildren.  She even tried to help me with my daily chores including running errands, cleaning, laundry, and cooking.  It was just two weeks ago, I decided to get Majid back home. 
By coincidence, my birthday was just three days ago and when I just stepped inside our home, I got so excited seeing dozens of friends and relatives awaiting me.  The house was nicely decorated with colorfull paper and lots of balloons hanging around.  But the most fabulous thing was a huge frame covered with fresh and colorful flowers with engraved emotional writing:
“You seem to be an earthly angel with pure love and affection.  You, Leila, just possess a high spirit and a nice heart, void of any kind of jealousy, vengeance or wickedness.  You forgave us, as we were trying to ruin your life. You are a great inspiration for us all.’
After a long pause, I rushed up to Majid ‘s mother, showering her with kisses on her shaky and wrinkled hands and then hugged my husband, who had managed to over come the those inhumane traits of rancor, deception, unfaithfulness and vengeance.  Now we are reunited and trying to adjust to “Normal” life-together.