‘He whose wife wears the trousers will hit his neighbour’s wife!’ [Archives:2003/03/Last Page]

January 20 2003

Written by Abdulrahman Mutahhar
Translated by Janet Watson
M – How does that Yemeni proverb go, Mus’ida?
Ma – Go on, tell me!
M – The proverb goes, ‘He whose wife wears the trousers will hit his neighbour’s wife.’
Ma – Oh yes! ‘He whose wife wears the trousers will hit his neighbour’s wife.’ And I’ll tell you what! I hadn’t heard of any Yemeni or Arab tribesman hitting his neighbour’s wife until your nephew came to set himself up and live in our neighbourhood!
M – Look, I’m talking to you about proverbs so you can gain from life’s experiences, I’m not asking you to make a song and dance!
Ma – But that’s precisely what I want to do! People who were on the scene said that your nephew pulled his neighbour’s wife’s sitara, and that is very wrong. I’ve never heard of any Yemeni or Arab tribesman doing something like that before! You’d better go and see what you can do, before those hypocrites and people with their own agendas make mountains out of molehills, and then step to the side to let us clear up the mess!
M – Look, it’s got nothing to do with me. It’s between them. Since it wasn’t me who grabbed at our neighbour’s wife’s sitara, you needn’t worry. People are responsible for their own actions.
Ma – That’s all very well, but the woman’s husband, children and brothers are not going to accept that slight on their female relative, and they’re not going to stay quiet about it either. And you won’t be able to slide out of defending your nephew when they come up to accuse him!
M – Anyone who heard you would say you’d become the district governor, Mus’ida!
Ma – It’s nothing to do with the district governor, but I’m going to give my brother a call and get him to lend you his gun so that you can take it to that woman’s family and tell them you’re leaving it with them in recompense for what your nephew did.
M – May God help you, Mus’ida!
Ma – And God give you strength and help you to gird your loins for the sake of your nephew!
M – First you’d better understand the situation properly, and make sure you’re in full control of the facts before you leap to conclusions. My nephew has tribal blood and knows the meaning of tribal duties, values and honour and the need to stick to them. He wouldn’t dream of taking a passing look at his neighbour’s wife, let alone grab at her sitara!
Ma – So what on earth can we do about those witnesses who swear that your nephew grabbed at his neighbour’s wife’s sitara without any sense of shame?
M – I’ve no idea. God alone knows the unseen and is the only true witness. People are all different. Testifying to something is one of the things we’ll be asked about in front of our maker, and woe betide those who bear false witness on the Day of Reckoning. But there is something I want to know – what’s behind this disagreement between my nephew and his neighbours?
Ma – You’ve asked me before, and I’ve told you it’s because of the children and the street.
M – Go on!
Ma – The houses are full of children, God preserve them from evil!
M – Yes, go on!
Ma – They’ve got nowhere to play apart from the street, and your nephew’s wife, who hasn’t got any children of her own, blew up at the children. She said she likes her peace and quiet and that the children were annoying her. So, as I told you, she got really cross with them. One day she shouted at them, another day she cursed them and their parents, another day she accused them of being rude and badly brought up. The last time, though, she went and hit the son of that particular neighbour in the middle of the street. According to her, he’d shot the ball at the window and given her the shock of her life!
M – Peace be upon the Prophet!
Ma – The peace of God be upon him and all his family and companions!
M – And I’ll tell you what happened after that! The neighbour heard her son crying and leapt to his defence. The sound of people arguing and shouting brought the women and children of the neighbourhood to see what all the noise was about. My nephew ran to drag his wife back into the house away from all the noise in the street, and when he took hold of her, he accidentally grabbed the neighbour’s wife’s sitara. She screamed out and got the people present to bear witness, and those false witnesses certainly didn’t let her down! And you go leaping to conclusions and want to get me involved alongside my nephew, and make it appear that we’re in the wrong! The whole thing is quite ridiculous and has got completely out of hand!