Friday, July 17, 2009

The Cashew Nut Orchard


We were nine months into our marriage and eighteen months after Siti had come back from abroad. That was to say that nine months had passed before Siti and I finally lived in the house, which we had built together. And, you know what? It took me full six months before I finally figured out why she behaved the way she did, as cold as stone when it came to discussing our future relationship. It was six full agonizing months that I had to endure. During that period, each day that had gone by, seemed like taking away piece-by-piece, whatever chance that we might end up as husband and wife as has been planned by our elders; as time went by it became more evident that I might lose Siti. If it had happened to you, would you want to remember it? I did not. But the lesson was something that you want those who come after you to know. Hopefully, they would not take things for granted, like what I had done. If I had been a writer, I would write a book or a novel based on my experience.

It was a thing of the past. And after nine months of happy marriage I was looking forward to something else. It was something that only Siti and I could share. It was the fruit of our love, a baby. Yes, God willing, Siti will deliver a baby boy in two weeks time. We already had a name for him. All we had to do was to wait for the moment. During the waiting period, there were joyful and anxious moments. One night, while we were lying down on our bed, Siti grabbed my hand and put it on her belly.

“Do you feel the movement?”

“Yes, yes. It looks like he is kicking your stomach wall.”

“I think he is telling us that he is ready to get out and see the world.”

“See his mother and his father,” I said, smiling joyfully.

Siti smiled as well. But I knew that deep in her heart, she was always anxious about the condition of the baby. I knew it, because I felt the same way. From the day her pregnancy was confirmed, we had not missed a day praying for our child’s health. That the baby would be born normal was of utmost important to us. I think that is what every couple is asking for.

There was a moment of silence. Nothing moved except my hand. I continued to venture on Siti’s expanded belly, searching the spots where the baby’s part was hitting her belly. “How does it felt like?” I asked when I found one such spot.

“Just like having a baby in the stomach.” She answered, twitching her lips as if she was joking.

“Oh honey. You answer is like the question itself. You are not describing how you feel.”

“That is the only feeling that I can describe. There is nothing similar to being pregnant. You can only have the pregnancy feeling when you are pregnant.”

“Oh. I see. Sorry that I insisted.”

Siti winced a little and then said, “It is okay. At least you know the problems and the torment that women have to endure in order to produce human like you. That should be enough reason for men to have empathy towards their partners, not to exaggerate little mistakes that their wives make.”

I said nothing but instead nodded in acceptance, both my hands clasping her right hand and brought it slowly touching my lips.”

When Adham was born, there was smile on everybody’s face. For Siti and I, it was a smile that symbolized our gratitude to God. For others, it might be the same perhaps with additional reasons. For sure, Siti’s and my parents were very happy because Adham was their first grandchild.

There was nothing better than your first experience of anything. Having our first baby was one of those, extremely enjoyable. I watched him growing day by day. I noticed every new thing that he could do. Every new “achievement” made by the baby would be related to the partner. If I were the first to notice, then I would tell Siti about it. But it was Siti who related those progresses more often than I. For, she virtually locked her eyes on the baby from the time he was born until he was three weeks old. Only then that she started to care for other things around herself and around the house.

Witnessing how Siti took care of the baby, I began to relate this tender loving care action to my mother. She must have cared for me the same way as Siti cared for her baby. At the time the thought came to my mind, my mother was sitting beside me gazing intently at the baby. I glanced at her with admiration. Pregnancy and giving birth is a fulfillment of duty for the continuation of life cycle from one generation to another. The greater part of it should be credited to women. Is that not good enough reason that men should love their women and give them tender loving care that they deserve?

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