During Aidil Adha on Sunday, I did get a text message from Shidah, wishing me Selamat Hari Raya. I was quite busy when the SMS came in and so I thought I’d reply later, but ended up forgetting all about it. Then yesterday another SMS came in, again from Shidah, but this time it was a blank SMS. I began to wonder if she was in some kind of trouble.
Amongst all my clients, Shidah is the only one whom I wouldn’t call unless and until she calls me first. Although I do have her handphone number, there was a time when her husband would hold the phone and only passed it to her when she needed to go to the hospital so that it’d be easier for her to call him once she was done with her hospital matters. Calling her when the phone is in her husband’s hands may result in her husband being suspicious of who I was, why I contacted his wife etc. And she may end up being beaten up again as the husband is the type who’d get angry even with the slightest reason.
Anyway, yesterday I just decided to respond to the blank SMS. Didn’t dare ask much though. I just asked “Apa khabar?” Shidah immediately called back. In her Pattani dialect, she told me she was having some problems.
Shidah: “Saya ada masalah sikit kakak.”
Me: “Kenapa? Kena pukul lagi ke?”
Shidah: “Bukan kena pukul. Dia sudah ada perempuan lain. Esok kakak ada pergi hospital ka? Esok saya pergi ambil ubat.”
Me: “Ada. Cari saya esok tempat biasa.”
So yes, this morning I made sure I got to the hospital a wee bit early in case Shidah came early. She was only there to get her monthly supply of ARV, not to see the doctor, so it shouldn’t take too long. If I went late and Shidah had to wait for me, her husband may suspect something if she takes too long before calling him to come and fetch her.
Indeed, it wasn’t long after I got to the counselling room when Shidah walked in, salam & kissed my hands as had always been her practise, and immediately sat beside me.
Physically, she looked fine. I asked her when was the last time she was beaten up by her husband and according to her, it was right before our last meet in May. He still gets angry, and from time to time purposely abuse her emotionally, but at least for the past 5 months, he had not beaten her. In fact lately, he had been a wee bit nicer to her – particularly after he found out that Shidah had began suspecting that he has an affair with another woman. Shidah had in fact saw the woman’s pic in her husband’s handphone but before she could double check – all pics and phone numbers had been deleted from his phone.
Typical! He’s probably trying his utmost best to be as nice as possible so that his involvement in the affair wouldn’t be suspected by the wife. In this particular case, it became even more suspicious when he suddenly became nicer because it is not normal for him to be nice to his wife!
According to Shidah she needed to get her visa renewed recently and since then, her passport had been in her hands. So, passport is no longer a problem if she wanted to go back to her home country to be back with her daughter. When she married her present husband and followed him here, her daughter was only 3 years old then. The girl is being taken care by Shidah’s mother. Her brother too helps to support the daughter financially.
Shidah has not seen her daughter since then. It has been 5 years. She does get to speak to her daughter by phone from time to time, and her daughter had been asking her when she’d be coming back. Shidah too, needless to say, missed her daughter so much. But every time she asked her husband if she could go back to see her daughter, the husband would say he didn’t have enough money. Frankly, I don’t think money is the problem. Shidah’s brother had offered her before to pay for the transport so she could go back and see her daughter, but the husband would still come up with all sorts of excuses. Shidah had asked her husband before for her to go back for good, but that got her husband real mad and she ended up being beaten up.
But back then, she couldn’t run away & go back to her family because the problem was she didn’t have her passport with her and she didn’t have any money. I could try get help to finance her transport cost to go back by bus, but her passport was another story. I did advise her to seek help from her embassy but she was too afraid to leave the house.
Now that passport is no longer the problem, there’s no more stopping her right? As it is, even though they are still husband & wife and staying in the same house, they no longer sleep together anymore. He goes in and out as and when he likes, whereas she only gets to go out when he brings her out. He never gives her any money, any household needs he will pay himself instead of giving cash to his wife for her to buy the necessities. He helps to top up her phone so she could from time to time call her family back home. She does all the housework including cooking for him.
She doesn’t sound like a wife does she? Sounds more like a maid.
So, how come she still seems reluctant to leave him? Is she afraid? She doesn’t want to be “isteri nusyuz” by leaving him? She still loves him despite all that he had done to her?
I told her of the choices she has:
1. To talk things out with her husband and tell him that she wants to be with her daughter who is growing up now. Try to go separate ways in the most amicable manner, if she thinks it is possible.
2. If she thinks her husband will only end up beating her up if she asks for divorce, then another option is to make her move during one of her hospital visits. Easier for her to escape.
3. She can choose to remain in the relationship which doesn’t seem to give her any future.
By this time, I could already see her tears flowing. She still seemed unsure what to do. I told her I wasn’t going to tell her what course of action she should take – the decision has to be hers. I just told her to go back and think things over – think of the good IF she decides to remain in the present situation & think of the good IF she decides to go back to her home country. Then weigh them and see which one brings more benefit (to me the answer is obvious). I told her to think of her own future and not let the feeling of guilt to play any part in her decision.
I also reminded her that she still has Allah to turn to. Do the istikharah. Ask for His guidance.
The decision is now in her hands. All I can do is to lend her my support.