I had been engaged in different games of sports while growing up and had learnt to imbibe the spirit of sportsmanship; win some, lose some. We can’t win all the time nor can we lose all the time. If you won all the time, you become extraordinary in that game and if you lose all the time, then it just wasn’t your calling. But marriage, I was forced to learn, was a game where the wife was to lose all the time and the husband wins all the time (for some kind of funny harmony to prevail). But really for how long can anyone keep up such charade of constant failure? Seasons had come and gone but nothing seemed to change between my husband and me. How it all started remains vague in my mind but the subsequent anger, pain, trauma and suffering have left me battered with scars that may never truly heal. I remember all those nights when I sat rocking our innocent little baby to bed, the perfect soothe for all the bleeding from my injuries, not physical but emotional ones and believe me; they bleed more and hurt much more than physical bruises. They say there’s always someone in a relationship who loves more but ours had become a horrible game where the one that hurts the most became winner. He’d always tried to blackmail me in the name of Islam with citations and quotations from the Qur’an and hadith that he expected me to abide by but they never governed his own actions. I was not allowed to keep any friends or let them visit but he kept not only male friends but female friends as well. Whenever I stepped out of the house even for a split second, I was to account for it in details but he’d travel to exotic places for days and return with a simple “everything went fine’ as explanation. I was to be contented with whatever meal I prepared but it was alright for him to fill his stomach with exotic fast food snacks and restaurants dishes in the excuse of dining out because of one ‘meeting’ or another. If I had dressed admirably, then it was because I intended to flirt or have men stare at me but his choice of clothing was never to be addressed. If the kids did something good, they inherited from him he’d say and if it were otherwise (they were my sins as usual). I couldn’t raise my voice even in anger where he was permitted to shout at even the slightest errors that weren’t even emotion-worthy. I was to keep up my Qur’an and Islamic advanced studies to perfect my deen but he never seemed to find the time to do same; he was always worn out, busy, not in the mood or simply unavailable. It was fine for him to revert to the Islamic principles as long as they favoured his desires at the moment in time. Such double standards... In the beginning, I had loved him too much to even consider hurting him or being hurt by him but as time progressed, every time he’d hurt me only made me stronger as I healed. Now, I’ve grown strong enough to cry no more. It can’t be denied that we’d both had our shares of good cuddling and romance and of bad arguments and slamming doors. The nights for me were always the hardest moments to get through; so many thoughts in my head of good reminiscence and bitter memories of our marriage, wondering how much longer I could go on or wondering what would become of my kids when they awoke from their slumber of perfection to face reality as I had awoken to reality many years ago. It was moments like these that made me ponder upon which women should be considered strong; the women who’d accept all their husbands flaws, absorb every insult and abuse, sacrifice their pride and dignity, forfeit their ability to choice and perception and pander to their husbands egos to sustain and uphold their family ties however frail or the women who’d strive to receive as much as has been given, endeavour to speak, be heard and acknowledged, struggle to achieve the best of the worlds they find themselves; as wives, companions, mothers, daughters, pillars, friends, organization staff, cooks... in expectation for a little bit of appreciation, a pat on the back saying “good job” with the hopes for a well-structured civilized family or are they both requesting for too much? I remember once a long time ago when I had eavesdropped on one of my mother’s sacred discussions with a neighbour after she’d picked a fight with her husband and was threatening to divorce him. My mother had said “I respect your strength and decision to leave him but if you do, you’d only end up with a false sense of freedom for a while and then end up in the hands of another fool just like him or worse still, a worse fool. Wouldn’t you rather tolerate one fool than to put up with chains of fools? Besides, you’ve got your children to worry about and keep you occupied enough. She’d wept so much that day and by the time her husband had come for her, she’d smiled. She had decided to keep her fool. I had gotten to that decision-making point in every woman’s life where she’d weep for the decision that was to be made; the acceptable choice against her desires and wishes or the weakness to be unable to fight for her desires and wishes. I began to wonder where exactly the line to be drawn between right and wrong is. Allah had given His permission to divorce (albeit He dislikes it) for marriage is not to be a burden upon the wife or husband. The choice is granted so that the union doesn’t become bondage. Allah also encourages the women for their humility, courage, faith, piety and perseverance with the ultimate gift of Al-Jannah. Tonight, I’m pulling all my resources of courage together and I’d have a chat with my fool. I still do not know what my decision will be but Allah, please I pray, give me the strength.