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Time to kindle the spark

‘I’ll be the face that you see in a crowd I’ll be the dream that keeps you awakeI’ll be the times that you cry out…

‘I’ll be the face that you see in a crowd
I’ll be the dream that keeps you awake
I’ll be the times that you cry out loud
I’ll be the reason that you tell the boys ‘no’
Don’t you know?
You can tell everyone that we’re through
You might even believe it too
But darling, there is no getting over me’
I smiled to myself at the memories evoked by the song before I knocked on Halima’s door. I knew she wasn’t expecting any outsider from the casual way she answered. ‘Come in.’
‘Assalamu alaikum’ I said stepping into her room.
‘Wa alaikumussalam, you are welcome Aunty. I had no idea it was you. I thought it was the nanny returning from next door, where I sent her.’ Halima replied rising from her bed and coming over to hug me.
‘No wonder she left the front door open, she probably thinks because she only went next door, there was no need to observe this minimum of security requirement. I let myself in, thinking that someone was seated at the sitting room and ended up coming here because everywhere was empty. So how are you and my little husband here?’ I asked, reaching out to pick her eight months old son.
‘We are fine Alhamdulillah. I think I must warn that new girl. Leaving the door ajar while she walked out of the house could lead to anything. The last nanny who was much more sensible left for Eid-il-kabir and said she was going to get married so we had to find a substitute. And look at just how incompetent she is.’ Halima lamented, reaching out to reduce the volume of her CD player.
‘Yes she needs to be warned about her carefree ways.’ I advised. ‘This song took me right back to the early days of our marriage. Whenever we had an argument and I began to play it, Tahir will joke that I was threatening him, telling him that there was no getting over me. Of course I will laugh at his interpretation of the song and it will melt the ice and we will forget our quarrel and just move on. Though we both loved country music, it was I who introduced him to Ronnie Milsap, the blind man who sang this song. So he always felt that when I played the man’s music I was sending some message to him.’ I reminisced.
‘Wow how nice to have such sweet memories of your early marriage.’ She replied, walking over to where I sat on her bedroom chair and handing a glass of ginger drink to me. I immediately sensed the sadness in her voice and so I asked where her husband was.
‘Frankly, I have no idea Aunty.‘ She answered, sitting back on her bed and looking up unhappily at me.
‘What do you mean you have no idea? This is a weekend morning so you know he is not at work. Then how could you not know where he is?’ I demanded.
‘Because he didn’t tell me. He just had his breakfast and went off, like he usually does these days. He didn’t offer an explanation and I didn’t ask. It’s hard to believe we’ve only been married 18 months because he’s already acting like a man who is bored with the marriage. He always seems ready to bolt out.’ She complained.
‘How long has this been going on?’ I asked.
‘For the last six months, I think. It started not long after the baby was born.’ Halima declared.
‘I think he’s feeling neglected, like all your attention is now on your son and there is no place for him.’ I observed.
‘No I don’t think he’s jealous of his son Aunty. He was ecstatic when Ahmad was born and he’s still very happy whenever he sees him. He keeps buying him toys and plays with him as if his life revolves around him. It is me that he seems to have a problem with. He doesn’t act like he likes my company, he talks to me only when he needs something. And he goes out alone. Sometimes I wonder whether he’s involved with another woman out there. Nothing else can explain the huge invisible gulf of silence he had created between us.’ She lamented.
‘No, I don’t think another woman has anything to do with it. And a man feeling resentful of the way you have lost interest in him does not show it towards his child. He will still adore his child but find a way of showing his resentment to you. Where did you use to go to when you were going out together?’ I asked.
‘We used to visit our friends and relations. In fact most weekends, we were out of this house both Saturdays and Sundays because we needed both days to go round. It’s amazing how he has forgotten all this in a matter of months, unless he now has someone better with whom to go out.’ Halima repeated her suspicion, sadly.
‘No I don’t want you to start entertaining any suspicions regarding your husband now. I think your problem is you two have always relied on other people’s company in order to enjoy each other’s. Your outings shouldn’t just be to visit friends and relations, they should be a chance for you to know each other, to bond even more. When Tahir and I first got married we used to drive out of our house every weekend to a place of natural beauty just to enjoy the scenery and talk to each other. When we started, I used to take along with me a book to read but by the time we found our unique spot by the river or on a hill somewhere, we will get so seduced by nature that we will end up talking to each other and just reveling in the beauty of the outdoors.
This continued right through our marriage, despite the birth of our four children. Just being within the purity of nature is enough to make you relax and want to reach out to each other’s soul, to know what lies between your two hearts. It is enough to bring much needed harmony into your marital life, this is why you should try it.’ I advised.
‘I don’t know whether it will work Aunty, you see I don’t even know whether he loves the outdoors. Even during our courtship we were always visiting friends and family. After our marriage we were always with others, it just doesn’t seem like he is attracted to nature.’ She said.
‘Well then this is your chance to teach him. Wake up early tomorrow and make a nice breakfast, get your son ready then tell him you want him to take you for a drive somewhere so you two could have a breakfast picnic. If he tries to resist, insist nicely by saying that you are bored with being in the house all these months and wish to go out for some fresh air. Talk eloquently about how you wish to just sit with him and your child to enjoy the beauty of nature. Be at your persuasive best. I’m sure you will get him to like the idea.’ I enthused.
‘I will try Aunty Bint but if it doesn’t work, I will fall back on my usual therapy of listening to music whenever he walks away and leaves me behind. That’s what I was doing when you came in. And I suppose deep down I really wished I was the one telling him ‘there is no getting over me,’ because I can’t help feeling that he has indeed got over me.’ Halima mourned.
‘No way Halima, don’t be your own devil’s advocate. You have to be optimistic about your marriage and whatever steps you take to better it. To me your husband is getting bored that all you care about is your son, so he drifts outside to get a little more attention. What you have to do is to try and kindle the spark in your marriage. Pray a lot for things to work out fine but also create variety, do just what magic will be brought back to your lives, believe me.’ I urged, squeezing her hand.  

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