Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Yes but do I care?

10 Good Things About Having An Absentee Husband

1) I can stay out as late as I want. No questions asked.

2) I can wear all my shortest skirts, eyeshadow(he hates it), bottle green, deep purple, shocking pink & all the other colors he can't stand.

3) I can have the bathroom to myself & keep it as clean as I want.

4) I don't have to cook.

5) I can hang out with all the people he hates.

6) I can blowdry my hair absolutely straight.

7) I can go shopping everyday for as long as I want.

8) Boring, comfortable, serviceable lingerie & sleepwear will be nothing to feel self-conscious about.

9) I don't have to put up with his more unpleasant friends.

10) I can rearrange the furniture & move things around as much as I want.

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Sunday, July 22, 2007

If I am ever seriously ill, I'm not sure what I would want from those who love me. I know what I WOULDN'T want though and that's a poisoned atmosphere with accusations and recriminations & blame games. I wouldn't want everyone around me to be at each other's throats, fighting over what should have been done for me & what should be done next & who should do it.

Something is wrong with this picture. And somehow I feel like I started it. All of this stuff must have been festering under the surface but the argument started between me & K about his plans to come back home. And our argument was the spark that set all this off.

I can't believe how far this has gone.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007


My MIL is adamantly opposed to K's plans to relocate. Last night, for almost an hour she lectured and lectured at the two of us. She was the only one talking though. He didn't say anything - which is an indication that he's made up his mind. Otherwise he would have made the effort to debate the issue.

And I couldn't think of anything to say either - despite the fact that I was the subject under discussion.

She's not opposed to the principle, though. Her main objection is to the fact that if K were to relocate now, we'd have to be seperated for 9 months to a year. According to our immigration lawyer, that's how long it would take for me to get a Swedish resident permit. That's assuming I don't want to be an illegal immigrant which I don't.

My MIL's argument is that my parents didn't want to leave me in UAE on my own. They left me in K's care. And therefore, it would be irresponsible of K to leave me on my own for that long.

It's a very Middle-Eastern parent argument, isn't it? It's more or less my family's position too. My father informed me in no uncertain terms that if K relocates to Sweden, then I am to relocate to Morocco. And he told K that just like K took me from my father's house, he should return me to my father's house anytime he felt he couldn't take care of me or something to that effect. And then he followed that up by asking K if he didn't have sisters etc...

Why do I suddenly feel like a valuable but inanimate parcel everyone is passing around by courier? I mean, shouldn't someone ask me what I want to do?

At some point in the conversation last night, K left us to go upstairs & check on his father. The only person K seems to want to be around these days is his father. Am ashamed to say I find it hard to be in my FIL's room for more than a few minutes at a time. Am not brave enough. So I didn't follow him.

Instead, I sat with my MIL & K's baby niece, who was falling asleep on my lap - a bit longer. Then my MIL received a phone call - from Egypt. While she was on the phone, I guess I fell asleep.

Not sure how much later, I woke briefly to find him carrying me up the stairs - which made me feel even more like a parcel. Was exhausted though. Went back to sleep the second he tucked me into my sleeping bag.

The next time I woke up:

Me: K?
K : Na3am?
Me: Don't you ever sleep?
K : These days, you sleep enough for both of us.
Me: Yeah, I feel so tired all the time. I guess it's the change of climate?

Silence. Ok so he's not feeling conversational.

Me: It's so cold. I wish you would hold me.

More silence.

Me : K?
Him: So what are you waiting for? An engraved invitation?

So I got out of my sleeping back and into his. He pulled me close. Without thinking, I slid my hands under his vest. My hands were freezing and his skin is always so hot. It used to worry me. I'd think he had a fever or something but it seems to be his natural body temperature. Or maybe it feels hot to me because am always so cold. Anyway, I have now stopped worrying about it & will use him for warmth anytime I feel like it.

I was still teeth-chatteringly cold though. It wasn't the temperature. It was the feeling that my whole life was caving in around me.

Him: You're cold. I'll get you a sweater.
Me : I don't want a sweater. I don't want you to move.
Him: Yes ma'am.
Me : And I want you to talk to me.
Him: 7adir. Fi awamir tanya? (Yes. Anything else?)
Me : If you make fun of me, I'll cry.
Him: La. Allah yikhaleeki. Howa ana na2is? (No, that's the last thing he needs.)
Me : So are you going to traji3ni bait ahli? (So are you going to return me to my family?)
Him: Ana 2olt kida? (Did I say that?)
Me : Is that a no?
Him: Inti habla ya bit? Arga3ik bait ahlik eh? Howa ana kont mistilif minhom ta2m 7ilal? (He's telling me not to be silly. That he wasn't 'returning' me to my family because I am not a set of kitchen pots that he borrowed from them.)

Parcel to pots & pans. Going up in the world, aren't I?

Me : Why do you call me habla(silly) so much?
Him: If the shoe fits....

I kicked his shin. He laughed. It was good to hear that.

Me : So what are you going to do with me?
Him: Wallah ma ana 3arif a3mil eh fi nafsi. (He says he doesn't even know what to do with himself.)
Me : Don't you want us to be together?
Him: Inti shayfa eh? Tiftikri in ana momkin akoon mish 3ayzik ma3aya? 3ayiz ab2a liwa7di masalan filzuroof bint elwiskha illy ana feeha di? (What do you think? Do you think I don't want you to be with me? You think I want to go through this on my own?)
Me : It's a big decision. Fakart?
Him: Mish mi7taga tafkir. Law laqdarallah abooki inti, konti ti2dari tsibeeh liwa7do? Howa ilwa7id byikhalif wi yirabi 3ashan yib2a lwa7do lama yikbar wi yi3ya ya L.?(I don't need to think. If it was your father would you leave him alone? People don't raise kids because they want to be left alone when they get old & sick.)
Me : He's not alone. Your mother is with him.
Him: Omi kaman sit kbira wi 3ayana ya L. (My mother's health is not so great either)Da howa illy kan wakhid balo minha.(My father was the one who took care of her.)
Me : Can't they come & stay with us?
Him: Ezay bas? Ma yinfa3sh tab3an asafar elragil wabahdilo. (Of course not. My father is not fit to travel.)
Me : So I guess I don't have a choice.
Him: Yeah. Options are in short supply at the moment.
Me : But I'm not going to Morocco.
Him: Ana ma 2oltish kida. Abooki illy 2al. (That was your father's suggestion)

I don't know. We have one more week here. Then we go back. He knows what he will be doing. He'll try to get himself transferred back to Sweden. If that doesn't work, he'll resign. He says that he can afford to be unemployed for a while.

And me? Well to start with, if am staying in UAE, I'll have to ask my company to sponsor me while I wait for my Swedish permit. Currently, I am on my husband's visa.
I'll think about my career later.

Right now, I am too busy trying to get my head around the idea of being single and alone for a year or so.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007


So he wants to relocate. Immediately. Says his mother can't be left to cope with this on her own. The other siblings all have commitments.

But you have commitments, too. Me. Am a commitment, aren't I?

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Old Room

So we're staying in his old room. Not having thought to bring my laptop, am now blogging using his old, old computer.

The old bed is too small for the two of us. And incredibly high. So high that my first night here, I fell off the bed & hit my head so hard on some old exercise equipment that was lying on the floor that I needed 6 stitches. Apparently, I also had a concussion and couldn't remember who I was the first few minutes I woke up. But I have no memory of that.

So I woke up the next morning to find him asleep in a sleeping bag on the floor. He'd decided to let me have the bed. The perfect gentleman.

Only it wasn't going to happen. I looked around & found myself another old, abandoned sleeping bag.

Now we both sleep on the floor. At least I can't fall off a sleeping bag.

His room is like a museum of unused & unwanted items because apparently his younger siblings helped themselves to anything that was of any practical use as soon as he moved out.

My mother-in-law was apologizing profusely, saying that they should have prepared a better room for me because I am a 'bride' & this is my first visit etc....And then she broke down & started crying. And then I broke down & started crying too.

That happens a lot around here. People would be in the middle of making dinner or doing the dishes & somebody would start blubbering and it's like it's contagious. It's also become perfectly normal to walk into a room & find people sitting around crying. You would avert your eyes, get what you came to get & then leave.

I don't know why this blog started with the story of the old bed & my stitches. Maybe because that incident was practically the only comic relief we've all had? Maybe I am an airhead who can't write about bad things - only about funny & cute things?

Because it IS bad. Bad beyond anything I was ever taught to articulate.

What else is worth noting? I haven't been out of the house since I got here. Except to the hospital to get my stitches.

And I work so hard. We all do. Cooking. Housework. Babysitting. Crying. Praying. Every night I am so exhausted that am out like a light the second my head hits the pillow.

Except K. He doesn't cry. And he doesn't do any work around the house either. He keeps to himself. Does pray sometimes but not as one would expect and also by himself. I seem to spend more time with his family than him!

Which is odd because everyone seems to assume that he will be the one to change his life & his plans to resolve the situation long-term. This would surprise me if my family wasn't more or less the same. I guess in every family, there is one person who will be expected to shoulder more responsibility. In my family, it's my two oldest brothers. In this family, it's K.

I know my life is about to change considerably. I know that's why he's so quiet, always thinking. And I know we'll talk about it soon.

I just wish he would cry. Or talk. Or get angry. Or something.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Which is Worse?

Losing someone you love very much to an illness? Or having them survive, pass out of danger but sustain irreparable damage. So much damage that although they are physically around, they may never recognize you again? What if they change so radically that YOU don't feel you recognize them?

My husband is in Sweden with his family. Before he left, I could feel his fear of what he'll find when he gets there. He didn't want to go. He was his usual macho self and never admitted it but he wasn't fooling me. He would have put it off if he could have. But that wasn't really an option. I convinced myself that I should encourage him to go, that he'll never learn to cope with his father's new situation if he doesn't face the issue head on, that his family needs him there etc...?

Now I am left feeling like a mother who knowingly sent her child into harm's way. I wish I could bring him back. I keep praying & vowing that if only he comes through this I'll take better care of him next time.

I will be following him on Sunday. And I am afraid too. I want to be there for him & for all of them. After all, I am a part of the family now. But we haven't had much of a chance to get to know each other. And this has been so sudden. I am afraid of intruding on their shock & grief. At this of all times, it is crucial that I fit in.

My memories of my father-in-law are of a large, handsome man with a deep voice & a smiley face. An active, happy-looking person who came across as slightly vain. So fastidious & particular. And very active.

Now I'll never have the chance to get to know him.

We humans are such cowards & so much easier to break than we think, aren't we?