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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Power Struggle (part-one)

The following short story is fictional and not based on any real people or true story. Any similarities to actual experiences are completely coincidental. The story depicts my experiences with average Middle Eastern families faced with the arrival of a new member and the interaction between the family members and the placement of roles. I hope you enjoy the read and perhaps you can relate to some of the frustrations that I work with.


“What about Mohammad? Let’s just give the baby a name that can be universal and accepted by all,” Fahad recommended to his wife, who was thirty-nine weeks pregnant, while he stood in the doorway of the master bedroom after coming home from a long day at work.
“Assalamu Alikum,” she responded quietly, “When did you get home? I didn’t hear you come in.”
“Wa Alaikum Alsalam,” Fahad sighed with a tone of frustration, because he noticed that she was packing her bags.
Sarah looked over her shoulder and saw that Fahad seemed upset. “It should be the other way around, you say AssalmuAlikum first. I am the one at home, and you were the one who walked in—Islam 101!” Sarah responded to Fahad while trying to figure out his frustration in her mind.
Fahad tore the ghutrah and igal off his head, threw them on the bed, sat down on the plush chair in their bedroom, and took off his shoes. He didn’t make any eye contact and he didn’t say anything more. Sarah continued to have the conversation about the name Mohammad. “But that is such a common name nowadays. I want my son to be special. I want him to have a strong name, one that is appropriate for a little boy and for a man. Mohammad is nice, and it is the name of our beloved prophet, but today, people name anyone and everyone Mohammad—men on the street, strangers, waiters, cleaners. I don’t know; I have to think about it. I should ask my parents. My father wants us to name him Abdalaziz, and my mother wants us to name him after her father, Khalid. You know how she feels about my father not letting her name any of my brothers after her father. My poor mother, she had to name her boys after the men in my father’s family, so typical of her times. It would make her so happy, husband is different, right? You are going to let me name my son whatever name I want, right? Well, we can decide on the name together. We’re not going to name him Abdulrahman after your father or Hassan after your grandfather, right? You are a modern man, one who lets his wife participate in these personal decisions. I am so lucky.”

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Please exercise proper manners and respect for all. Thanks