Asiya has been eerily quiet since the day before when her husband Mahmud announced his intention to take a second wife. She couldn’t put her thoughts in order so she adopted the silent treatment.
Now she sat on her prayer mat with her legs outstretched and her back to the wall of the veranda in their newly built home. It was the rainy season and looking up to the sky, it would seem like a heavy rainstorm was coming. She took out her diary which was always with her alongside her Qur’an and du’aa book, and began to pen down some poetry lines to capture her feelings about the impending downpour
The storm brews
I can see it, feel it.
In the pale blue sky turn black
Moments before, calm and peaceful
I can see it, feel it
In the shivers of trees, o’ trepidation
Tender fruits, tighter, they hug their bases
Lo! when the storm hits,
Many shiver, hit the earth
Ready or not for a drop
A storm brews, this I know
Will it spring forth good,
Or thorns that portend bad omen?
Will I be swept away
Or glow like the residue of its aftermath?
A storm brews
And all I see are signs that breathe
All I do is ponder on
This morning rainstorm, a similitude of my life.
She didn’t know if it sounded right or made any sense, she just needed to express how she felt. She wasnt really a poetry person, had never been. Continuous prose remained her forte; even as a child, she loved to scribble down short stories at the back of her school books.
She remembered her childhood then, the special balcony in her parents home where she used to hide to write and just stare at the sky for hours. She wished she were back there, a child, carefree, serene and secure.
Now she pondered over the canary birds; would they still fly all around the big hibiscus tree with its petals and leaves fallen everywhere? And the fruit trees, were they still there in the backyard mini orchard? Were the monkeys still there out beyond the barbed wire fences, playing and carrying there babies on there backs? Did the fallen leaves from the many trees still form layers of carpet underneath which snails and earthworms hide? Was the house still there, magnificent and beautiful as it then was, or had it become dilapidated and abandoned like many other staff quarters in Nigeria which belonged to moribund government companies?
She shook herself from her melancholic state and resolved to go and visit her friend, Hamidah, later in the day; perhaps an advise would help. She needed someone good to help her put things in the right perspective. Right now her thoughts were all jumbled up, disorganized, and she feared that she would do or say something irrational in her state of mind.
But she felt betrayed, disappointed, angry, disoriented, jealous, curious, fearful and unsure… She felt broken.
What did this announcement portend? For her, for her children, her family, her state of comfort? What would change, and to what extent?
Many hours later, Asiya drove away from Hamidah’s house with a verse of the Qur’an ringing through her head, a result of the heartening discussion she had had with her friend.
Fabi-ayyi aalaai Rabbikumaa tukazzibaan? And which of the favours of your Lord can you deny?
It was actually a verse from one of her favorite chapters in the Qur’an, Suratul Rahman. Repeated thirty one times throughout the surah as Allah mentioned His numerous blessings upon mankind. Evidence of Allah’s favours abounded all over the earth. His blessings in their individual lives were too numerous to mention.
Asiya thought about her own life. Allah had blessed her with a loving husband, a nice home, a car and two extraordinarily beautiful children. Indeed which of the favours of Allah could she deny? He had given her doting parents, wonderful siblings. Cute little nieces and nephews, loyal friends, a high paying job, and good health. She had what many women desired but could not have.
Some of her friends were still not married through no fault of theirs. Others had been married for over ten years but were unable to have children. Many were still looking for jobs that were not forthcoming. If she really thought about it, her life was near perfect, never mind that sometimes life’s trials made her feel like a complete failure, like moments ago before she walked into her friend’s home.
Yet there she was, ungrateful…
“Astaghfirullah wa atoobu ilayhi” she whispered, “So, what if Mahmud has decided to take a new wife, is that the end of my life? Should it mark the end of my happy existence? Is the new wife going to undo all my achievements in life or take away Allah’s blessings on me?” she smiled, “Certainly not!” She affirmed with an elated heart.
She had her life and the new woman – whoever she was – had her own life too. She had her children to bring up and goals to achieve. In fact, now she would be able to do a lot of things which she had wanted to achieve but had put on hold due to the demands of nurturing a young family.
She had always wanted to go into business and become an entrepreneur, earn a Master’s degree, and enroll in Arabic school but time never really permitted her. During the last decade, her life had been an endless circles of pregnancy, breastfeeding, pregnancy and house chores. Her husband and children demanded her attention at all hours of the day, and there was just no way of escaping her marital duties. Perhaps now that he wanted to marry a second wife, she could have some time to herself.
The idea of having a “me-time’ appealed to her. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to have a co-wife take the man off her hands for some days every week. She could relax without feeling guilty of neglecting her duty to hubby and kids. In fact she could already envisage a scenario where she’ll be blissfully typing away on her laptop, the book she had always wanted to write but never found time to. The more she thought about it, the more she liked the idea.
But what about the frustration, and betrayal women faced at the onset of polygamy, how does she handle it?
She had heard countless stories of the atrocities men committed against their wives once they met the new woman. A friend of hers was terribly disappointed with her otherwise pious husband who suddenly became negligent, uncaring and totally absent in the home front once he found a second wife. He failed to pay the children’s school fees that session, he ‘forgot’ to pay the electricity bill leading to a power cut, and he stopped bringing home groceries, something he had always done everyday. Her friend, of course, couldn’t help but attribute it to his new found polygyny adventure. The husband on his part was recalcitrant, as most men were wont to be. He blamed his wife for becoming too petty, picking quarrels and trying to find fault with him simply because she was jealous of his decision to marry and practice the Sunnah.
Asiya prayed sincerely to Allah to make her case different.
Mahmoud was a very good husband, and she was sure he wouldn’t trample on her rights or toy with her feelings. She didn’t want an escalation of the negative emotions running through her mind. All she wanted was to be happy, and she wasn’t going to allow the issue of polygamy deny her that happiness. She sought refuge in Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala from the whisperings of the accursed Shaitan, and resolved to adopt a very positive attitude towards everything; she would remain a loving wife and strive to befriend her new cowife. If there was ever any quarrel, it wouldn’t start from her bi-ithniLlah.
With that positive resolve in mind, she entered her home with a smiling face to prepare a sumptuous dinner for her husband.
Author: Muneerat Abdulsalaam
Editor: Umm Naml