Worries of Youth [Archives:2002/40/Last Page]

September 30 2002

Written by Abdulrahman Mutahhar
Translated by Janet Watson
Ma – Whoever said, ‘Only ever attack someone who’s just finished fighting, and leave other people to sort out their own arguments’1 was right. Bringing up children and dealing with them requires wisdom and patience. And there you are leaping into the deep end before you’ve learnt how to swim. Hot tempered is an understatement!
M – It’s just like you to say something like that! I can’t do anything to please you! If I’m patient with the children and deal with them gently, you say I’m not tough enough with them and they don’t have any respect for me. If I get tough with them, you say I do nothing but shout at them!
Ma – Okay, fine, but moderation is best in all things: don’t slacken the rope so much that it sags, and don’t pull it to the point of breaking.
M – Now what? I’m at your command – tighten the rope and slacken it off as you will and don’t take any notice of me. After all, I’m only your private secretary!
Ma – Don’t be stupid! You know I don’t think you’re my secretary, but show some regard for your son. You know how the Yemeni saying goes, ‘Son, one day you’ll have your own son.’2
M – Come on! Let him show me some regard for fear of God, Mus’ida! I’m doing my best! I would love to build him a villa, furnish it, marry him off, give him his own car, and put a salary into the bank for him every month, but you know I don’t have the means!
Ma – You don’t need to build him a villa or give him a bank account, for goodness sake! Just be there for him – see what he wants and help him as well as you can.
M – What he wants, Mus’ida, is for me to get him engaged just like his friends who are already engaged and flashing their engagement rings around!
Ma – I really don’t care what other people think, and nor should he. Everyone should be their own person.
M – That’s exactly what I told him – educated, self-confident young men should be above the scorn of other people and not give it a moment’s thought.
Ma – Absolutely! But the boy is very sensitive. He gets upset for a month by anything that’s said, even if it’s of no consequence.
M – And if I say anything that upsets him, I’m at your mercy, even to the point of you telling me to go and get him engaged this minute!
Ma – It’s not the time for getting engaged. If only you could talk to him and convince him properly and make him feel a bit better. But you jump down his throat like a cat leaping onto a mouse – Get out of my sight! Shut that door! Make sure I never hear that sort of talk from you again! First thing you can do is turn round! Go out and earn your own living!
M – Now what! Don’t you gang up with him against me like that! Find him a job which brings in 30,000 riyals, then you can pay 150,000 for the engagment, and put aside 1,200,000 for the wedding and I’ll be ready to marry him off straight away.
Ma – I’m not daft, I know exactly what my son’s like, Mus’id. He’s ready to rush about, but when it comes to worries and responsibilities, he can’t manage any more than he’s already got on his shoulders.
M – I took his worries from him, dumped them in the middle of the floor, and made them as light as a feather. I said to him, ‘Son, you keep comparing yourself with people who are luckier than you, and that makes you dissatisfied with your lot. That way you’re making yourself unhappy. Our Prophet (PBUH) advised us to compare ourselves with people who are less fortunate than ourselves so that we can appreciate how well off we are and make sure we stay on the true path.’
Ma – What a fine speech!
M – Hang on, I haven’t finished! I said, ‘Son, you’re concerned about how you’re going to get a job and who’ll employ you. And again you’re making unnecessary worries for yourself. God Almighty, He alone is the Creator and the Provider and the one who sorts out all the concerns of his creation. All we have to do is look around and do our best. “If one door shuts before you, a hundred doors will open.”3’
Ma – You’re absolutely right!
M – I also told him, ‘If I were to marry you off as you are now, without any work and unable to bear the responsibilities of marriage, you’d simply end up being a burden to me, and this is one of the reasons that marriages fail.’

1 Cf. al-Akwa’, p. 925.
2 Cf. Zayd, p. 20.
3 Al-Akwa’, p. 119. From a Humaymi poem.