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Tuesday, October 03, 2017

The Boss (2)



Abu thought back to this incident and other ones like it where people commented or joked about what they saw as Halima’s ordering him around. He hadn’t been unhappy with Halima personally, but he had begun to get very uncomfortable with the situation. He got tired of pacing and sat down, still ruminating.

After a while, Halima entered, carrying some shopping. 

“Hello dear”, she called out to Abu. “Can you please help me with this shopping?”

Aha, Abu said to himself. She is at it again. “Halima, please leave the shopping by the door. There’s something very important that we have to talk about.”

Halima was immediately concerned. “I hope your father has not had a relapse”, referring to Abu’s father who had recently been discharged from hospital.

“No, no, Baba is fine. This is something else.”

Halima dropped the shopping and went to sit down next to him. “What is the problem, dear?”

Abu came to the point. “Halima, I am not happy at the way you order me around in this house. I think you should remember that I am the boss, and as such, I deserve to be treated with respect.”

Halima was open-mouthed with astonishment for a few seconds after this pronouncement. Then she asked softly, “Abu, do you believe that I really do order you around?”

Abu was confused. He had been expecting resistance and denial, not this. But he pressed on: “Well, when you ask me to do this and that, I feel like I am being ordered around. I’m sure it’s different with other men and their wives.”

Halima opened her mouth to say something, but then she stopped, and was silent for a few moments. Then she smiled and said, “OK, Abu darling, tell me. Will you be happier if I don’t ask you to do anything? Even better, how about you giving me the orders instead? That way, you’ll be happier that you are the boss, the oga patapata in this house.”

Abu knew that in theory, he should have been feeling very satisfied. After all, wasn’t this what he was asking for? But he felt even more uncomfortable than before.

“OK”, he said uncertainly. “Let’s try that out and see what happens.”

A few days later when Abu returned from work, he found that there was no water in the house.

“We had been running low, but I didn’t have any money to call out the water tanker drivers and ask for them to fill up our tank”, Halima explained.

Abu was baffled. “Why didn’t you ask me for money as you usually do?”

“Remember? You are the boss – you’re the one supposed to give me the money and the command to order fresh water supplies.”

“Halima! I don’t have the time to be remembering all these details, now!”

Halima smiled. “Abu, I agree with you. In fact, if I was allowed to make a suggestion, I would say that it would be better to leave me to worry about these details, but in this new dispensation, I’m not allowed to do that.”

Abu sat down, exasperated. “OK, I can see where this is going. You are just going to make things difficult for me until I agree to do things your way, eh?”

Halima was conciliatory. “Abu dear, I don’t want things to be done your way or my way. I just want them to be done our way – the way that works best for all of us. I know that you are a busy man – you yourself have just said that you don’t have the time to worry about or remember every single detail involved in running the house. I am good at this; and I enjoy doing it. So I think it makes more sense for me to handle this and only trouble you when necessary.”

“But when you are always planning and thinking of things, I feel as if I am irrelevant, as if my job is just to agree with everything you say”, Abu grumbled.

“But think about it, Abu. The reason that you agree isn’t just because you swallow my suggestions without thinking; it is because you have examined my suggestion and you have found it makes sense. When a sensible man examines a sensible suggestion made by a sensible woman, what do you expect?” said Halima, smiling again.

Abu smiled back, then frowned. “But what about what other people think? I don’t want people to start laughing at me.”

“What about what other people think? Are they the ones who are married to you? Abu, what works for other people may not work for you. There are some people who are only happy when they are commanding people around, and there are those who are only happy when they are being commanded around. Allah grant that both parties meet, fall in love and are happy with each other.

“But I remember when you first met me, one of the reasons you said you were attracted to me was because of my intelligence. I chose to marry you, because I wanted to be able to use my intelligence to make life sweeter for you. I also chose to marry you, because I believed that you would let me use my intelligence to make life sweeter for you. Why not let me continue to do that? As long as you are happy, why worry about what other people are saying?”

Abu smiled again. “Hm, Halima! All this your talk of your intelligence, your intelligence… should you be blowing your trumpet like this? What about me? After all, it is only an intelligent man that can pick out an intelligent woman to marry.”

“Only if the intelligent woman decides that she wants to be married by the intelligent man," said Halima, and they laughed together as they sat down to discuss how they were going to get by that evening without water.


Concluded
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