Written by: Hafsa bint Yar Muhammad Nizamani
The story until now:
"We should not see the thing but we should see the person who brings the thing for us. We should not see the thing but we should see the love, sincerity and intention of the person who brings it. She is a lucky woman whose husband brings things for her. My late mother-in-law used to tell me…" she took a deep breath. "What did she tell you?" Fatima asked curiously.
The story continues:
"She used to tell me that a woman was married in their neighbourhood. She was provided nothing. She was not given even bread to eat." Tears trickled down from grandma’s eyes. "What? She was not even given bread to eat?" Fatima and Sania asked together. "Yes, she was not given a single roti. This is the story of about one hundred years ago. This is a story of the time when the British ruled the subcontinent and when barrages were not constructed across the Indus River to control the flow of water. There were no canals either. At that time, wheat was not grown in most parts of Sindh. People used to eat roti made from millet (bajra) and sorghum (jowar) flour. Like today, there were no flour mills in those days. The women used to grind grain in their own homes, with their own hands in hand-operated stone mills. This woman’s husband used to save a lot of millet grain for the whole year in the store room. He took out the corn according to his need and then locked the room again so that his wife might not take the corn. He took out a little amount of corn according to his need from the store and gave it to his wife to grind and cook for him. She first washed it, dried it in the sun, ground it and then cooked it. She served the food to her husband and sat down with him to eat but her husband got angry and said, "Don't touch my meal. It is only mine. It is not yours. You cannot eat with me." The patient woman left the dastarkhawan sadly. She thought that she would eat the food after her husband had finished but alas! This did not happen." "What happened then?" Fatima asked. "Her husband ate the food to his heart’s content and put the leftovers in his waistcoat pocket and left for his field. The woman said to her husband humbly, "I am also hungry. Please give me a little piece of roti too." “I have no bread for you. There is none for you in my home. You can go to your father's home and eat whatever you like there," he scolded her. "How cruel he was!" Fatima's mother spoke up as she carried in the tea for them. Sania also could not believe her ears. With tears in her eyes, she asked, "Did her mother not protest?" “No, she was also a patient woman. She said to her daughter, ‘Thank Allah سبحانہ وتعالی that you live near us. I shall provide you a meal thrice daily but I shall not let you ruin your life. Don't worry you won’t go hungry." “And the other items of necessity? It is obvious that a person who does not even give meals to his wife, he will not give her anything also," Sania asked. "Yes, you are right. He gave nothing to his wife," grandma, wiped her eyes with her dupatta, put on her glasses, sighed deeply and said, "My both the man’s wife and her mother were very wise. They just waited patiently for the man to come to his senses. They realized that the moment Allah ta’ala changed his heart he would become a caring, loving husband. Come my daughters, now let us have some tea."
After tea and biscuits, grandma again began to speak, "Now the times have changed so much. The girls say, ‘We need the latest mobile. We want matching sandals and bangles with each dress. We need a heavy purse to go shopping. We need costly cosmetic items. We need nappies for children. We must be allowed to do shopping in the bazar. We shall not do household chores because we are not maids. We must be provided maids to do the housework, etc." “You are right grandma,” Sania spoke up. "My sister who is married in a poor family also spends a lot of money on such things. Only a few days ago, her daughter’s feeder got lost. She ordered her husband to buy and bring new one. Her husband said, "Now the children have grown up. It is good that the feeder is lost as I don’t think it is good for their health. I don’t have money for another feeder." Her mother-in-law also supported her son and said, "Now one child is eight years old and the other is ten years old. Now they can drink milk from a glass." My sister became furious. "You old woman you envy me. If you envy me, I shall hurt you. I want a feeder at any cost. I shall buy it what may come," she shouted at her top voice. She quarreled a lot with her in-laws. There was no one to tell her that her husband and her mother-in-law were right. Grandma, you have really opened my eyes. My mind was filled with filthy ideas about how to put your mother-in-law in her place, and control your husband," Sania told grandma. "My daughter, the relation of the husband and wife is very delicate. We should protect this relation very carefully. We should strengthen it with love and obedience." "Yes, grandma, you are absolutely right. You’ve shown me how wrong I was. After hearing your valuable instructions, I have now decided to delete all those filthy ideas from the screen of my mind,” Sania said and thanked grandma for guiding her in the best possible way.