Mas-huni [NEW]

Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”

Chopping up an onion always brought tears to Muniya’s eyes.

Every squish of Muniya’s sharp knife as it sliced through the pungent bulb released more sulphuric gas into the air and irritated the membranes of her eyes. As the onion steadily metamorphosed into what a needy human being wanted it to be, the tough layers closer to its surface yielded large, more colorful rings which she would chop into smaller pieces later. The softer, juicier, layers making up the inside succumbed to the knife and became smaller, almost colorless ones. Through increasingly blurry eyes, she was making a good traditional breakfast tea of hot, unleavened roshi bread with an herbed and spiced fish and coconut concoction called a mas-huni for her husband: He would demand immediate service as soon as he got up from his post-prayer nap. Hoping that time was on her side, she held up to the golden light of an early morning sun two red chili-peppers she had just picked from her little home garden and. Yes, they would do! Gritting her teeth, she put the pretty little things on the cutting board.

Muniya had been a pretty little thing three years ago. She had a wonderful, modern, globe-trotting father who catered to her every need. A dutiful mother in Addu had loved her very much had kept her happier than most. A devout step-mother who had to live in Singapore for health reasons had made sure that her stepdaughter never strayed from the way of the righteous. Seven siblings who subscribed to the greater world vision of beneficial dispersion had adored her to distraction. With everything going her way as most of humankind would have seen it, she had been on top of the world for a long time. Then came times of tribulation.

Muniya had just finished secondary school with top grades. Her school had celebrated her success and had honored her achievements. In the absence of qualified counselors, her teachers had talked to her about the wonders of the teaching profession. She had begun to dream of securing a scholarship to go overseas and do a degree in child psychology. She had found out that sharing these aspirations had been one of the greatest mistakes she had ever made: her adoring siblings had better things to attend to closer to home; her loving mother would never break silence in front of her ex-husband; her modern father could not trot home from the rest of the globe and had let his wife make the decision; her pious stepmother had known all along what fate had in store for pretty little Muniya.

Muniya had become the pretty, dutiful wife of an educated, stalwart young man who hailed from her father’s home island three weeks after she received her School Leaving Certificate. When she had initially protested to the arranged married on the grounds that she did not love the man her stepmother had so diligently procured for her, she had been told that dutiful daughters did not ask that kind of question. From the very first night, the night of the wedding, just after the Qazi had given her away in holy matrimony to Shekih Hammad ibn Abdul Qadir, Muniya had found out that being dutifully married to a man had its ups and downs. As the months passed by her, she had begun to notice that the ups had been having an increasingly harder time in keeping each other company. I recent times she had often felt like the two red chili-peppers she had under her sharp knife.

Starting at every little noise that came her way from the dark interior of her bedroom, jumping at every movement that registered in the corner of her eye, Muniya mixed the grated coconut, smoked fish, onions and chili-peppers, added a dash of fresh lime juice, a pinch of salt and combined these ingredients into a mas-huni which she hoped Hammad would like. She knew what awaited her if he did not; Hammad would do his duty as a husband to ensure that his wife remained obedient, compliant and therefore good.

Chopping up an onion brought more tears to Muniya’s eyes these days.

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  • jaa  On October 3, 2010 at 11:49 pm

    Interesting 🙂

  • silentfingers  On October 5, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Now, this is what I spoke about; “I witness the bearded men giving sermons on kindness, while their wives suffer silently…”

    Isn’t it time that we women need to stand up against the arrogative claims of such dominating men, imposing unreasonable suffering upon us? Isn’t it time for us to realize that we could ‘think’ within the boundaries of these ‘black-shaded adobes’ and still voice out for the many rights we are entitled to in our religion…. Or then again, perhaps a ‘mas-hunigandu’ mixed with two or three Bhut Jolokia would do the trick for time being 😉

    Thank you for bringing this topic to our attention in a subtle yet ‘loud enough’ manner. May God bless the woman in this story! And may God’s blessings be with you too, always!    

    • ldive  On October 5, 2010 at 4:59 pm

      Remove these murderous thoughts of Bhut-jolokia-spiked mas-huni to send anyone to capsaicin-induced death from your beautiful, sweet, creative mind! You are not the type!
      Silentfingers must do their honorable work in a more subtle, more civilized manner. And you know how!
      As for this story, did you also see the presence of that failed Nemesis that failed to tread on the futures of Snow White and Cinderella?
      I also ask you this question: Is it possible that sometimes the gentlest and sweetest pearls amongst women actually allow themselves to be trapped into a prison they don’t like and then perpetuate the calumny by wearing the unused exit-pass around their necks saying that not using that card is called Duty?
      I thank you for your blessings, your continued support, your superb insight, you continued dedication and commitment towards keeping the Night Rider on the strait road.

  • mysterystar  On October 5, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    That’s right! May god bless and for sure my prayers are involved.

  • shifa  On October 14, 2010 at 10:55 pm

    as good as ever …. it seemed very real stories of Maldivian ladies


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