Some months back, during a short vacation I took to visit some islands with my family, I met a married couple that was going through a really tough time in their marriage – or to be more accurate, as they themselves said: ‘varifashah araafa’. I guess there are good reasons and bad reason why couples breakup or get divorced but I found the reason to be quite funny in this particular case. I’m no religious scholar (why does that sound like an oxymoron?) so I have no idea how religiously or legally sound the reason was. I’ll leave the judging to people who do that for a living and just relay what they told me.
Mariyam and Moosa (obviously not their real names coz quite honestly, I really can’t recall their names anymore) were in their late fifties and had been married for around 30 years when I met them. Moosa owned a small shop in the island and, judging from how spacious and modern his house looked, seemed to be quite well off. I’ll skip over most of the boring details about how I met them and go straight to the point. The point being that despite the outward appearance of a happy and content family, Mariyam had tried to get a divorce from Moosa, failed, and was still seeking to end their marriage.
She told me that she had gone to Court once to get the divorce but that the Judge (or whatever) had thrown the case out. At first she wouldn’t tell me the reason she wanted to get divorced. I guess she was ok with telling a total stranger about her domestic problems but drew the line when it came to explaining her reasoning. That’s what I thought at first. Eventually I managed, with some help from the strangely jolly and snickering husband, to get the whole story.
Mariyam had always been a religious woman, not in the extremist sense way but she had the basics down: buruga (not the ninja garb), prayed five times a day, recited the Quran, gave to the poor, the works. Her husband on the other hand was very lax in his religious duties and tended to be more business-oriented. For years Mariyam had tried in vain to get Moosa to take some interest in saving his soul and keep it from entering eternal damnation in hell.
Amusingly, she told me that she would have even settled for a Friday prayer every now and then.
After the tsunami hit the Maldives some years ago, men from the Brotherhood of the Lengthy Beards and Truncated Trousers visited the island, seizing the moment and successfully converting many over to their fashion sensibilities with their tried and tested fear-mongering techniques. Moosa and Mariyam had however been immune to their charms for some reason at the time, but unknown to Mariyam, Moosa had struck up a friendship with one of the bearded desert men and continued to keep in touch with the guy long after the Brotherhood had left the island in search of greener pastures.
That was some background info about the couple for those of you who might have wondered about their history. One more thing you have to understand before we move on. I could be wrong, but it seemed to me that Mariyam was absolutely smitten with Moosa. I mean totally devoted and possibly even unconditionally in love with the guy. It was obvious that she had deep feelings for him even thought it was Mariyam that wanted the divorce. Feel free to chime in with more clichéd lovey-dovey stuff to press the point home. Don’t you just love conflicted characters? Moving on.
Several years later, Mariyam was delighted beyond words when early one fine morning, Moosa pulled on a skull cap and made a beeline to the mosque just as she woke up for her morning prayers. From that day on Moosa was, as far as most people were concerned, the perfect Muslim. Following the abrupt change, the couple made one Hajj pilgrimage followed quickly by plans for another pilgrimage just to confirm reservations at their destinations in the afterlife. Sounds like this was as good as it would get, right? Yeah. At this point I had to ask, “so what the heck went wrong?”
What went wrong was that Mariyam couldn’t control her curiosity about what had made Moosa change into a religious powerhouse overnight. And she continued to ask and pester him to explain the sudden transformation. She just wouldn’t let up; such was her curiosity. Moosa held back against the onslaught for a long time but eventually she wore him down and he relented.
Apparently his dalliance with the desert Brother, who had visited the island after the tsunami, had blossomed into a full-blown bromance and he had been invited to join their book club where they read, translated, discussed and dissected a lot of ancient poetry and debated the validity of numerous historical anecdotes. Anyway, during one of these book discussions Moosa experienced an epiphany of sorts after hearing the translation of one such anecdote. I can’t remember the exact verse and phrase, but it was something about jewel-encrusted palaces and a harem filled to the brim with young nubile ladies whose only desire was to please you. I don’t want to go into too much detail so follow the link to get the gist of it.
Being the honest man that he was, Moosa had told his wife quite truthfully the reason he had decided to become a devout believer. Surprisingly, to Moosa at least, the reason didn’t go down too well with Mariyam. Apparently she had her own plans for the afterlife and it didn’t include watching her husband’s eternally stiff soldier repeatedly conquering 72 perpetually virgin territories all day long. There was of course more to the story then this and the debate went on for quite a bit but I believe this was the basis of their argument and the underlying reason Mariyam wanted the divorce. You can call her silly, religiously ignorant or whatever but it occurs to me that she must have actually felt quite cheated when the love of her life, her husband, revealed the true reasons behind his makeover.
Sex sells, you can’t deny it (well, you can but you’d be wrong) and the most interesting thing is that most times it’s even more effective than the fear of eternal torment. I doubt Moosa was the first, and he most certainly won’t be the last, to make such a drastic changes to his principles and beliefs for the singularly enticing promise of an eternal orgy.