‘What are you reading with such concentration that you’ve totally lost interest in the news?’ Tahir asked. Apparently he’d raised his head to comment on the coverage of the Lagos riots on TV, and had seen that my head was bowed towards my phone.
‘It’s something quite strange and unbelievable, which I just received.’ I replied, lifting my head up to look at him.
‘With all the strange things you receive on your WhatsApp messenger daily, will one more be anything out of the ordinary?’ He joked.
‘But this one truly is.’ I answered, rising up from my seat to join him on the settee, where he was stretched out. I sat in front of him and held my phone screen to his face before saying. ‘Look at this, a lopsided pre-nuptial agreement.’ I added.
Tahir took the phone from me and said:
‘A pre-nup agreement among our people? Well, that’s not so bad. I mean I heard that even Arab Muslims are doing it these days.’ Then he collected the phone from me and about a minute later laughed out loud:
‘But this is a joke Bint. It’s nothing but a joke. How can something like this get you all worked up? What happened to your sense of humour?’ He asked.
‘You might think it’s a joke but I don’t think any DPO of police will agree to append his signature to a joke. And look at his signature here, right under the one for the bride’s representative.’ I insisted.
‘Really? Oh yes you are right. Now this is serious.’ He conceded.
‘I’m glad you agree that it is, Hubby dearest. In addition to it being unfair and totally chauvinistic. How can an agreement meant for two people have nothing to offer one of the parties involved? I mean just look at what it says again:
“Pre-marital agreement document:
I, Baseerah, hereby agree that I’m getting married to Ibrahim with the understanding that he can marry other women in future, whenever he wished, up to three of them.
I promise to patiently continue living with him, without biting or scratching or any verbal abuse and certainly with no stabbing and chopping of limbs; even if he were to marry three times more.”
Signed: Bride’s Father
Issued at the Magistrate’s Court,
No 312 Bakin Tasha
Lau, Taraba State.”
Now, is this a means of saying that only women are prone to violence in marriage and so they must be made to sign this?’ I queried.
‘Maybe that’s what it means but you must admit that most recent cases of domestic violence, even fatal ones, were committed by women. And when it comes to the issue of taking more wives, most women simply lose their sense of reasoning, often with disastrous consequences. So I believe it’s in order to prevent such occurrences that such a novel agreement is drafted.’ Tahir answered.
‘In other words, you are all for this unfair, one-sided pre-nup accord.’ I accused.
‘Not really, but I’m trying to understand why people can go to such lengths before a wedding.’ He replied, with a smile.
‘So now this young man is assured that he can marry from one to three more wives, from the onset, without expecting any negative behaviour from his wife?’ I enquired.
‘More or less’. Tahir replied.
‘You know what, I can’t believe this Baseerah really signed this document with her own hand. What level of desperation is this?’ I protested.
‘But it is not desperation dear Bint. It’s called love.’ He offered.
‘No I don’t believe there is any love here. If there was, on her side she wouldn’t want to contemplate a situation whereby her groom is already thinking of future wives before their own wedding is even contracted. And on his part, if there was any genuine love, then the thought of more wives and his safety after marrying them should not be uppermost in his mind now. So while there is desperation on her part, and that’s why she’s ready to settle for anyone called man, on his part she is just the available, not the desirable; and he has to prepare her mind against the day he meets the desirable. So against that day he wants to ensure his safety.’ I opined.
‘You may be right Bint. But like I said earlier, I fail to see why you are getting so worked up over it.’ He declared.
‘I feel so strongly about this because any self-respecting woman would demand something for herself, if it’s really a pre-nuptial agreement. But because this lady is possibly only interested in becoming Mrs Somebody, at all costs, she has mortgaged her happiness from day one. How can a bride be happy knowing that any moment her husband can bring another wife or wives with her signed blessings?’ I wailed.
‘What if her parents prevailed on her to do it? You saw that her father’s signature is there along with her own. So she probably had no choice in the matter.’ Tahir observed.
‘But that’s doubly unfortunate. It doesn’t only mean she was made to accept that only women are prone to violence, in domestic matters, she also been forced to give her husband a blank cheque to seek new wives whenever he wished, without giving her any option but patience. This is nothing but a pre-nuptial nightmare, Hubby dearest, a nightmare by all standards.’ I concluded.