Mus’id & Mus’idaMarrying one without the other [Archives:2003/629/Last Page]

March 31 2003

Written by Abdulrahman Mutahhar
Translated by Janet Watson

Ma – Goodness, Mus'id! You're the only one I know who's about to marry off his younger son before his older son!
M – Just be quiet, will you, and give blessings to the Prophet!
Ma – The peace of God be upon him and his family. But really, Mus'id, how can you mean to marry off your younger son while he's still out playing, and leave your older son without a wife when he's already 35 years old! How did you manage to square that one?
M – I didn't need to square it. The Yemeni philosopher said,
'Farmers, don't reckon farming's easy.
It needs two good bulls and a warm house full of produce.'
Ma – Look! I'm trying to talk to you about this off-beam decision of yours. Everyone thinks you're daft and they're all talking about you!
M – Why should they be talking about me? What have I got to do with them?
Ma – They say that Mus'id's weak in the head, marrying off his younger son, who's only just 15, while his elder son, who's already 35, is still unmarried!
M – Our elder son, Mus'ida, abandoned me and the land and the village, and took himself off to the town. Then after we'd lost all contact with each other, he came back asking me to get him married!
Ma – Since you're going to marry off the younger boy, you may as well kill two birds with one stone and marry off the older one too. By rights, he should come before his brother, Mus'id!
M – His younger brother should come before him, and deserves to get married far more than he does! He stayed tied to the land, and is my right-hand man. We wouldn't have half the number of sheep and goats we have if it weren't for all the sweat and blood he's put into the work. You won't get any produce or any tilled land if you're not prepared to put in the effort and perseverance. And I want to get him married to firm up his commitment to the land!
Ma – He certainly does deserve well. 'You don't have a farmer without two good bulls and a warm house full of produce.' But it's not right for you to marry the younger one at the expense of the older one when they're both your flesh and blood!
M – Okay, what do you think I should do then?
Ma – I think you should wait until I'm able to find a nice girl for the older boy, and then marry them both off at the same time.
M – I'll do what you say, but on one condition.
Ma – Go on!
M – The younger boy will get married because he's already got his housing sorted out, and can reckon on God supplying him with all his needs because he's prepared to work the land. He doesn't need to wait for a wage or overtime, or wonder where his food's going to come from. And he doesn't need to worry about poverty. You know the saying,
'I'm not worried about poverty,
because I have a hundred vines of grape!'
Ma – I know all that. I'm not stupid. But I'm not going to stand by while you marry off the younger boy and not the older one when they're both your children! Do you want me to have a slanging match with you so that everyone can hear? It's not right to treat your children differently!
M – You're right in that they're both my sons, but there is one thing. The older boy has not tended the animals, nor tilled the land, nor worked from dawn till dusk, nor suffered from the cold and the heat, nor taken the produce to market to sell. He doesn't appreciate the value of the land at all. Then, at the end of the week, he came up to me wanting me to find him a bride, so that he can remove her from the paradise of the countryside to the hell of the city and ruin her life!
Ma – You can do whatever you want, but you're the only one who'll be to the blame!
M – There won't be any blame. If your older son is prepared to return to the village and the land, and roll up his sleeves and stand beside me and his younger brother to work the land and eat from it, then he can have his bride, his coat, shawl, waistwrap, scabbard and expensive jambiya. He can pay back half his debt by getting up early with her to go to the fields before the dew has evaporated, and that will serve him far better than the hardships and worries of city life!

Cf. al-Akwa', p. 30.
Cf. Qanun Sana'a, p. 2; Aqwal, p. 27. The grapes mentioned in the original are atraf, a slender, long, whitish type, cf. Piamenta.