THEY WILL ASK thee as to what they should spend on others. Say: "Whatever of your wealth you spend shall [first] be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof." - Al-Baqarah (2:215)

Friday, 6 July 2007

When a woman has no say - Part 2

This week and last week I’ve been calling almost all my PLWHA clients inviting them to join our Family Day outing on 5th August. It’s confirmed, from the families under my care, there’ll be 10 adults and 23 children going.

Joining will be the happy-go-lucky Jah, Yah and her 4 children, Fuzi and 5 children, Zainab/Zaki and their 2 daughters, Mr. and Mrs. K and their 4 children, Sha and her 2 boys and finally Lily’s children with their new guardians plus their 2 young cousins.

Nuri, as I had expected, declined. From day one she had been reluctant to join such activities where she could meet up with fellow PLWHAs. I’ve been trying to call Ifa, but each time I called, she wasn’t home (she doesn’t have a hand phone) and the man who answered the call (I think it was her father) sounded like he was going to eat me up so I dared not ask any further… :)

But I really feel so sorry for Maria.

When I called Maria last week informing her of the Family Day, she sounded so excited. She really wanted to go… bring her family along and get the chance to meet other families with HIV. But she would have to discuss the matter with her husband first to make sure they don’t have any other events or appointments on that day. I told her I’d call her again this week.

So 2 days ago I called her. Since she didn’t answer the call I sent her a text message. Apparently Maria didn’t answer my call because she had left her hand phone in the car. It was only later that night she replied my message…

“Saya tak pergi. Suami saya tak nak pergi. Dia mana nak campur dengan orang macam kami ni. Dah tau jawabnya dah tentu dia tak nak.”

I understand how she felt. Her husband had always been her problem since day one. Maria never had any say in any decisions.

I’ve posted Maria’s story sometime in March during my early blogging days. You can read her story here. But if you’re too busy or lazy to read the old posting, let me just summarize her story here.

Maria got infected with HIV from her first husband, a drug addict. It was an arranged marriage. After being blessed with 3 children, they got divorced and through another family arrangement, Maria got married to her present husband. Her present husband seemed to be the more responsible type. Everything went well… until Maria got pregnant again. When tests showed that Maria was infected with HIV, her husband was called to the HIV clinic to get tested as well. He was declared negative.

Then the problem began. Nobody else in the family knew about Maria’s HIV status… only Maria and her husband knew. While Maria needed to talk things over, her husband preferred to avoid the problem by not talking about it. So Maria got all tensed having to keep things inside her. She had no choice but to talk to me whenever she needed to let something off her chest.

Whenever Maria did try to open up to her husband, they would usually end up in a fight… sometimes even to the extent of the husband chasing her out of the house. However, each time Maria tried to get out of the house, he’d stop her… saying he didn’t mean what he said. He didn’t apologize; he just said he didn’t mean what he said earlier. To him, if he didn’t mean what he said, things would be alright. To Maria, he wouldn’t have said it if he didn’t mean it.

After some time, Maria didn’t call me as often as she did before. I thought maybe after the baby was delivered, things would turn out for the better. Each time I called to ask how she was doing, she’d just say she was okay. I thought maybe her relationship with her husband had improved. Apparently there wasn’t much improvement. Instead Maria was just getting used to the situation. She was getting used to having no say in any decision.

From her latest SMS I could tell she was frustrated. To her, there was nothing she could do about it because she’s just a woman. I really feel sorry for her.

If only Maria’s husband was more like Sha’s. Sha’s husband was also tested negative but had been very supportive. Although he is not joining the Family Day outing due to work commitments, he encouraged Sha to go with the 2 children.

Financially, Maria’s family is better off than most of the other families under my care. But emotionally, Maria is not.

Frankly speaking, I think Maria’s husband would feel much better if only he’d talk things over with someone. But he simply refuses to do so. Joining the Family Day outing will mean he will be meeting other HIV families. He’s afraid someone may end up talking to him about HIV.

He’s not solving the problem; he’s just avoiding it…



J.T. said...

*sigh* alright.

A man will not change his mind unless he is ready to do it.
When? We won't know. His avoidance is only making Maria feel more alienated.
I hope he won't wait for something to happen to realise that Maria needs his support.

david santos said...


Good weekend

Pi Bani said...

Yeah, let's hope he will realise soon that Maria needs his support. If only he'd talk about his own feelings rather than just keeping it inside him...

Pi Bani said...

Hi David,
Thanks for dropping by.

Are you already in Africa? All the best to you!

ummi said...

sigh..sigh and sigh again..I've seen this somewhere my past. I wonder how we can empower she can do what she wants to do, do what is good for her. My fear is there will come a time when she feels there is no where or no one she can turn to, to positively help her. I think there is more that meets the eye here..though I hope I am wrong. But thank God you are there for her to talk to..Pray things will get better for her.

Pi Bani said...

So far she'd call me when she needed to talk. I hope she will continue to do so. So far her husband has not stopped her from seeing me or talking to me, but for her to join any other activities memang susahlah.

elviza said...

Dearest Pi,

I have to say that I agree with JT. A man will noy change his mind unless he wants to.

Kesian Maria.... Sigh sigh sigh

Pi Bani said...

Hmmm... looks like this particular posting resulted in so many sighs...

Raden Galoh said...

Pi...that would be a little zone in a man's world that I'm still intrigued...

But I always pop up this question...why are they not sensitive enough to reach out and understand us...I know not all men are like that but we still have a big bunch of those, right?

Kesian Maria...she really needs the moral support from her hubby more than anything else...

I pray hati suami dia terbuka utk lebih open and willing to reach out for her...

p/s: love the session of our short meeting that day...

Pi Bani said...

I guess generally women needs to talk things out while men prefer to keep things to themselves. Bila the needs clash like in the case of Maria and hubby, big problem lah jadinya. Especially when Maria herself has that "siapalah saya" mentality.

Anyway, yes, it was a pleasure meeting you in real life instead of just online.