As I had suspected, Shidah would be at the home of her mother-in-law after the death of her husband. I didn’t dare call her too soon in case I’d end up calling at the wrong time. Staying with her in-laws, she would know better when would be the right time to call me if she needed to.
With her problems of being abused by her husband when he was alive, we would have thought her problems would be over after his death. But apparently her problems aren’t over yet. No, she’s not being abused by her in-laws, but with Shidah keeping too many secrets, she’s living in fear of her secrets being exposed, although personally speaking, I feel some of those secrets should not have been kept a secret in the first place.
Shidah’s in-laws want her to stay with them, as they are afraid she may go back to her old religion (her family aren’t Muslim) if she goes back for good to her country. They told her it would be okay to go back and visit them, but not to go back for good. Frankly, if Shidah does go back to visit her own family, there’s not much her in-laws can do if she doesn’t come back. So really, I have the feeling Shidah herself wants to stay on in Malaysia, it’s just that she doesn’t want to be too controlled by her in-laws. Right now it seems they don’t even allow her to go back temporarily to her rented house in Ipoh. No doubt her husband is no longer around to pay for the rent, but the rental for February had already been paid for until the end of the month, and besides, she needs to pack her things at the rented house. Her MIL told her to wait for her sis-in-law to come back before they go to the house together to pack all the stuff.
I asked Shidah why couldn’t she just tell her in-laws that she misses her daughter from her first husband whom she had left back in her old country. I was surprised to find out that her in-laws are not aware that she has a daughter from a prior marriage. Only her late husband knew that. Surely her in-laws would understand if she wanted to go back and see her daughter whom she had not met since she married her second husband??
Her in-laws, understandably, are also not aware of her HIV status. So, how is she going for her appointments at the hospital without them asking why? I told her to just inform them of whatever other “normal” ailments needing regular check-ups at the hospital, but she said her sis-in-law was the type who’d query every single detail.
I told her to better think of something so as not miss any of her hospital appointments.
Today she called me again. This time she spoke in such a speed that I found it hard to understand her foreign dialect although she was speaking in Malay. It seems her MIL sort of found out about the HIV – not Shidah’s but apparently her late hubby. As far as we knew, Shidah’s late hubby was not infected. He was tested once and after that did not get tested again.
However, apparently one of the MIL’s neighbour works at the hospital, and she was the one who told the MIL that Shidah’s late hubby had been tested for HIV. The MIL confronted Shidah and asked if it was true her son had HIV. The MIL, who knew her son had an affair with another woman, thought he could have got it from that woman. Shidah could have taken the opportunity to open up to her MIL. After all, she had not done anything wrong. It wasn’t her fault she got infected with HIV.
Even if she didn’t want to tell the whole truth, Shidah could have taken the chance to at least say she wasn’t aware of it and that would be a good enough excuse for her to go to the hospital to be tested. But no, she decided to deny every single thing. Now she doesn’t know what story to tell her in-laws when she needs to go to the hospital at the end of the month. And then she asked if I could go over to her MIL’s house and come up with a story to bring her to Ipoh without telling the in-laws that she needed to go to the hospital. In other words, she wanted me to go to meet her in-laws and lie to them.
Whoa woman! I can keep your secrets but please don’t ask me to lie for you. I refused. I told her to find her own excuses if she was not willing to tell them at least part of the truth.
Shidah said she wanted to stay on in Malaysia and asked if I could try find her a job – she didn’t mind if she had to work as a cleaner or something like that. I told her I could ask around, but she herself would need to ask her in-laws for permission if I could find her a job. By the way it sounded, her in-laws (according to Shidah, especially her sis-in-law) wouldn’t let her go anywhere without any one of them accompanying her.
Frankly I don’t think things would be too complicated if Shidah had not decided to keep too many secrets from her in-laws. They aren’t even aware about her child from her previous marriage??