Sunday, December 28, 2008

30 Zulhijjah 1429 - Reflection

I wrote this piece on November 2006, a decade after my divorce. I was so drowned in my guilt because I thought God was punishing me for daring to shake the pillars of 'Arash.

A very special person helped me dealt with the guilt by forcing me to put my thoughts on paper word by screaming word.

Here it is two years later and some edition.

I lost my husband because of money. It wasn’t a pre-nuptial thing. It happened because I was a stupid old fool.

He was working as an estate assistant manager in Ladang Serasa Kelantan owned by Tradewind when the company issued whatdoyoucallit (first issue?) shares at RM1.00 per share in 1995. Each executive was issued some lots as bonus and he secured some.

I got the opportunity to do a twining program in England in September 1995 and he was transferred to Ladang Permai Lahad Datu Sabah in November.

In mid 1996 there was the wide speculation about George Soros and in England it made some headlines though at home it wasn’t yet very apparent. I made the trip home that summer 1996 just to persuade him to sell off the shares. The particular share shot up to RM8 or RM9 then.

I had a hard time convincing him about the downturn of the market because being a man he wouldn’t listen to a mere woman. Though he finally relented, it was not until the shares went down to RM6.80. He managed to sell all his lots by the end of the year and earned a lump sum of RM200 000, married a Philippine GRO, left his job and went into construction as sub-contractor (unregistered of course!). By April 1997 he lost all the money together with his Philippine wife (read: she left him).

We were divorced on 30 January 1997 just a few days short of EidulFitri. I was alone in England then (finishing my study which lasted in July 1997) because I sent my children home (my daughter was sitting for UPSR). Well, that explains why the takbir and tahmid on Eid still left me choked until now. Also why I threw myself into marking exam paper madness year after year.

I wish I didn’t insist to have those shares sold. Maybe things would have turned out differently.

I am 48 now. I have single-handedly, raised up two wonderful children. I pay my own bills and take care of my household without the help of any man, or woman for that matter. I own a house, a car and a piece of land through my very own sweat and blood. I have my job. I am established in my local work community.

Many people who know me are amazed at how able I am. (A male colleague once asked me to drive him from Gemencheh to IAB to attend a course. Why me in particular and not one of his male friends – *Kak Ina knows the way and is used to travel long distances*. And doesn’t his wife mind – *it’s ok with Kak Ina*. Geez! I’m everybody’s big sister!!). Colleagues admire me. I am an inspiration to many of my female friends. I am popular with students and parents even my children’ teachers and friends and their parents. And in my district, I made many new friends as state trainer for ETeMS. [Allow the conceit, please!]

Despite all these, I am very lonely (the empty nest syndrome). There is this huge, painful void inside. The inner fire takes a ride on the bullet train. It’s all the harder because I have to put up a very brave, cool facade when inside me everything is in tumult. I am ravaged by guilt. My self esteem turned to dust. I lost the pleasure of mowing my lawn and attending my roses to plantar-fascitis and carpal-tunnel [which has since turned into cervical spondylosis]. There is so much pain inside and outside which puts me on the verge of depression (at times I couldn’t even get out of bed). I struggled to keep my last hold on the raison d’etre. I cried for a respite.

Perhaps God was tired of my wailing. I stumbled into the path of a very special person. The last ember of the dying fire burst into flames. Something about my special friend reminds me of who I was in my younger days, giving me the strength to walk down the memory lane. The philosophy of ‘pahala’ and ‘tidak merasuahkan ganjaran’ helped me reflect on my past and thus, arrest my guilt.

For almost a decade I have been trying to understand what made me break away from thirteen years of submission. Why did I force the divorce? I searched my box looking for reasons. Was it because he took another wife?

I remember the third year of my marriage. I stayed in this big colonial estate bungalow in Ladang Kuala Gris Bukit Abu, Kelantan with my two lovely children, 3 maids and an estate paid gardener. He worked 9 to 5. My life was perfect. I was blissfully happy. I couldn’t have asked for more and I thought my happiness would last forever. I told him overtly to just let me know should he ever think of taking another wife, I would willingly go to ask for her hand.

Such was my thinking. I have always accepted that part of a Moslem man’s privilege. So the issue was not another wife. In fact now that he has remarried, I encourage my children to visit him and their step-mum. We exchange salams and gifts.

The only reason I could think of is that I lost my respect for him. Twice he quit his job, leaving me to take care of the children while he looked for his niche in the world. I feel that he was just too selfish. He had a family and yet he made decisions without any consideration for the family. The only consideration was; I have a job so I can take care of the children. When he eventually came into money, the first thing he did was to take another wife, a Philippine GRO at that and a Christian to boot.

I was angry and I felt betrayed. However, now I know the anger was not because he took another wife or because he lost the money but, because he was not the man I thought he was. I have no problem being submissive but I can’t be submissive to a man who couldn’t take care of his business. He has to be worthy because I need a man. Not just any man but one who acknowledges his duty and able to carry out his obligation in every aspect of life as a man. Only then can he claim his right to four wives.

Pheeewws!! It feels soooo good to finally get all these out of my chest. I’ve been ravaged by this guilt for the past 11 years. I blamed myself for I thought I was being selfish. Now I am convinced that my action was not out of blind anger but because I needed a MAN and he did not fulfil my need.

Looking back, I came to understand my needs.

I need a man whom I can respect. In order to be submissive, I must respect him.

I need a man who strives for perfection mentally because I need conversation and mental stimulation. A simple-minded man just wouldn’t do.

I need a man who is sensitive enough to understand what I go through as a woman, but strong enough to keep me grounded.

I need a man who is spiritually secured because I need him to lead me in prayers. A spiritually secured man is compassionate and reasonable.

I need a man who is strong financially because I don't need a financial burden.

Now, in the solitude of the twilight on the brink of a new year I wish to put down this thank you note to the special friend who gave me a hand in dealing with my guilt. Your understanding and sensitivity, your humour and wit, your wisdom and compassion are reflection of your knowledge, experience and maturity of thoughts. I thank God for leading me into your path. And I thank you for being such a dear friend. Thank you.


momilo said...

Yang dah lepas, biarlah berlalu. Take it as an "experience notch" ... insyaAllah ada ganjaran utk kesabaran dan kesusahan. Tak sekarang, kemudian.

Anonymous said...

i admire your strength very strong women..

bob said...

Sad but inspiring stories of a strong women i admire u

koolmokcikZ said...

momilo, Anonymous and bob,

tq for sharing my pain here.

Anonymous said...

U did what u think is right for u dear..
there is no right or wrong ..but we have to do what is right for us..
Quilt is part and parcel of life...
Sometime we feel quilt because we dont know for real what we have done. But one thing foe sure..we are responsibility for what we did...and we hv to live with that. On the other hand the lesson learh will be the foundation for the future......eagleEye

koolmokcikZ said...

thanks eagleEye.

i don't feel the guilt anymore.

only the hurt ... first it was the betrayal then the 'unfairness' of it all

now i feel stupid for wasting the best years of my life