A Good Wife

Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”

"Good wife" image

They never had the institution of the local dive that served hooch in the Maldives. But the saihotaa teashop always served a mean brew of tea along with really mean savories and sweet little snacks with names only a local would really understand.

The two regulars chewing the cud over steaming cups of tea at a nearby table looked at Manik with envy. They were there to avoid the constant tirade of abuse their loud-mouthed wives spouted at them whenever they went home. Like the bloodhounds they had only seen in the B-flicks they watched daily, their once-attractive wives now existed for no other purpose than to make their lives hell. But Manik was happily married, they knew. Manik had such a quiet, decent, pious woman at home!

Manik looked down at his half-drunk tea. He saw a cup that was half empty. It was cheap as hell and sweetened to the taste of the kitchen crew. But the dark fluid warmed his guts much better than what he would probably not get at home. It was probably prepared in commercially viable batches, he thought. Even if so, it was still better than what he would still not get at home.

One of the envious regulars knew Manik’s wife, by reputation if not on speaking terms. When she was a bit younger, and infinitely more available, he had found her irresistibly attractive. Today, on the other hand, she was simply unapproachable in her long dress and dark shawl. Some would even describe as haughty though he would have preferred to call her decently aloof. And she certainly looked so virtuous, especially since no one ever heard her abuse her husband like his wife did, or even in a milder manner.

Manik did not want to go home yet. It was just after the Maghrib prayers at sunset and his wife would be doing her proper religious readings like any decent woman should. It was best not to disturb her at that hour. She took those matters very seriously these days. In fact, she had recently asked him to start collecting money for her Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Despite the fact that Manik did not earn much as a cashier at a local supermarket, he knew it was his duty to do so. He owed his wife that much, even if some of his more uncharitable friends would accuse him of paying for her sins. And he began thinking about her….

Manik’s wife knew she had to atone for her youth. Those had been heady days when virtue was a word in the English dictionary, and she had not ever cared to learn that alien tongue. She had had her fun and her flings and her fickle friends. Those had been thrilling times when sin was a concept she had heard about only when the island mudhimu caller of prayers had come visiting her dad with dire words of warning about his daughter. Today was different. Today, she was the decent and proper wife of a man who was stable. He might not be as lovable as the fun types she used to know. He might not even be as attractive as they had been. But he was the one that had offered marriage, and she knew it.

And because Manik’s wife was so much engaged in being seen to be the proper wife, she often did not have as much of the happy times for him. He had thought that he would have all the fun in the world with the so attractive, so carefree and so bubbly young thing that had said yes so easily to his proposal. He had had the surprise of his life when, on the first night of their legally wedded night, she had told him that the main reason she had yes to him was because she had wanted to turn over a new leaf and become a decent person. And soon she had begun spending so much time on being that decent person.

Manik’s wife tried to make herself a very decent person. With the help of the more learned and more religious local women, she soon learnt how to pray regularly and properly. Manik was so happy with that. Then she joined an English language class in addition to the Quran recitation classes she had started attending. Suddenly, everyone that still lived on the remote island she came from discovered her as their main contact and facilitator on the vibrant capital island of the Maldives. As Manik’s wife changed herself into the decent wife everyone in her extended family would be proud of, it became increasingly more difficult for her to give, and later spare, any time for her husband……

Manik roused himself from his thoughts. The half-empty cup of tea now stood in front of him, grown tepid and unappetizing. Something told Manik that it was good that they never had the institution of the local dive that served hooch in the Maldives!

And as the envious wife-battered unfortunates looked on at the next table, Manik got up, left two Rufiyaa on the table for the probably expatriate waiter, and left the saihotaa, destination unknown. It was not yet time to go to what they called a good home and a good wife.

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  • shifa  On August 1, 2010 at 11:25 am

    very true type of Maldivin story……

  • Shiyama  On September 26, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Sometimes its the opposite… the wife prepares lunch, tea, dinner & starves at every meal , husband comes home says he already had lunch, tea & dinner with friends at the saihotaa..

    • ldive  On September 27, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      A good husband will do anything to get home for dinner as long as it is prepared with just a dash of love. No saihotaa or restaurant can ever lay their hands on that condiment.
      Very often a ‘saihotaa addict’ is someone who has first been let down at home once too often. Once an addict is born, no amount of syrupy TLC can force him into rehab!
      Then, of course, you get the ‘me husband supreme and forceful / you the dutiful mindless wife’ kind of Tarzan. That is the kind of person you are probably referring to here in your comment. At least I hope so!

  • ldive  On October 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm


  • Maheel Ali Jaleel  On February 24, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    seems like a true story but then again it has both sides too, nonetheless the story has an interesting touch.

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