Another character in Roots and Branches and Making the Cut
My mother: By 1935, Hitler had closed the progressive women’s schools, preventing women from entering university. Gretchen Steinbach left her home in Hamburg, Germany, in 1935 and went to England as a nanny while seeking opportunities to pursue higher education. There she set eyes on the dark chocolate skinned Abdel Aziz studying for his PhD. She charmed him; he was smitten. But she was already betrothed to a white blue eyed National Socialist German in Hamburg. Now her choice was between the exotic chocolate or the mundane vanilla. Her heart chose Chocolate. Returning to Hamburg she broke off her engagement, despite the dire warning from her “ex” that she’d regret the choice.
In Egypt, she’d be culturally homesick. Returning to London, chocolate became her lover and she persuaded him to move in with her. Abdel Aziz submitted his doctoral thesis to University College by the late summer of 1939. With WWII looming in Europe they hastily married, and moved to Egypt. thereby deferred her own educational dream. He promised to return to Europe at so she could continue her education. In Egypt she was reluctant to embrace the ambient Arab culture becoming an emotional outsider, suffering from homesickness. She never failed to remind Abdel Aziz of his solemn promise that they would return to England to embark on herstudies. With WWII and two children time passed. In the absence of a practical timeline, the promise became a curse—a sword hanging over Abdel Aziz and the Meguid progeny. She felt betrayed and trapped (read Sins and Glory and Characters in my Podcast “Making the Cut” in podcast).