AFTER a life of spinsterhood, Setareh, an 80-year-old Iranian, assumed she was fated to see out her remaining days alone and was preparing to move into an old people's home for company.
When the boy-next-door from her youth suddenly reappeared and proposed, she thought her long-forgotten dreams of marriage were about to be fulfilled.
But Iran's laws require a father to give permission before a daughter can marry.
Now the lovestruck octogenarian has asked a Tehran court to establish whether her father, who abandoned her when she was two, is dead or alive so her wedding can go ahead.
The legal obstacle came to light when Setareh and her betrothed, Jamshid, tried to tie the knot at a registrar's office, only to be told she needed written agreement or proof of death of her father.
It was a cruel blow to the couple, who had been childhood sweethearts but were forced to scrap plans to wed after Setareh's mother protested that it would lead to her being left alone. Setareh resigned herself to living with her mother.
Appearing before Tehran's family court, Setareh, a former teacher, explained that Jamshid subsequently married another woman who had since died.
The pair rekindled their affair just before Setareh was due to move into a care home.
"Seeing Jamshid made my heart start beating faster and suddenly the passion of youth returned," she said.
"When I heard him proposing to me once again, I thanked God for the second chance because I had found another spur for the remaining days of my life."
Judge Mahmoud Baghal Shirvan asked officials to examine the father's status and pronounce whether he is dead or alive. If he is found to have died, the court is expected to permit Setareh to marry.
Her plight is an example of what campaigners say is systematic discrimination against women under Iranian law.
But the state-linked Iranian Women's News Agency said women need their father's permission to protect them from "emotional" marriage decisions.