Layla, after breakfast and lots of chatting about the clients she’d been freelancing for that month, said she would like to visit Ziyad and take pepper soup along. Make it plenty, I commented.
After dhur prayer, we arrived at Maymunah’s. Sometimes it makes me chuckle how I refer to my house as Maymunah’s and the apartment I pay for as Layla’s. So, where exactly was my own place? In any case, Ziyad was doing fine now. We found him and Ah’mad playing video game in his room. I joined the kids in the video-game playing and the three of us, Ziyad, Ah’mad and I shared the pepper soup as well.
On our way to the masjid for Asr, I walked through the living room, and got a glance of Layla and Maymunah talking in the kitchen, sitting on stoola, two glass cup filled with sparkling cider on the island. That view was a marvel. They both didn’t know I saw them. Sofiyyah in the living room by herself lost in the book in her hands.
After the prayer, I stayed back in the mosque and reflected on some Qur’an Ayah. But my mind went back to that sight of Maymunah and Layla, and I remembered what it took to get there. When I asked what were Maymunah’s fear before marrying Layla, she mentioned two things.
“Darling, we have built a beautiful family and home, Alhamdulillah. You’re present for your children. I’m scared that this might change. I don’t want us to lose the peace we have.”
I nodded and said peace of mind was a priority for me as well.
She continued. “I can’t compete. I simply can’t. I don’t want problems. I want a sister. I want a friend. Someone that’s not coming to compete because if she’s looking for competition, I’d just retreat altogether.”
I was a bit apprehensive about Layla because she was opinionated and because she’d once mentioned that cowives don’t have to be friends. So, I knew there’s work needed to be done.
I knew it’s a matter of perspective. There’s this WhatsApp group where we discuss these things and the popular opinion is to run parallel families, never intersecting. But that wasn’t what I want. I wanted harmony, true peace, and not just silence confused for tranquility. I wanted to expand my family. Not have two separate families. I wanted a Jannah bound team full of benefits for each other in these world. I knew it would take time and so I wasn’t in a hurry.
One day, shortly after our Nikkah, I was inside my car at Layla’s. It took me a while to get down and she noticed. When I got in, she asked if I was on the phone with Umm Ziyad, which was how she called Maymunah, I responded in the affirmative. She stared me for a while and then ran to the bedroom.
I went after her and found lying face down on the bed, crying. I held her, patter her beautiful, scenting hair, and asked what was wrong.
“I’m never going to be able to compete with her, will I?” she sobbed.
“You’re not supposed to, darling.” I kissed her forehand. “I love you. You’re my love.”
I debated if I should tell her she’s my favorite, and thought against it. Instead, I showered her with compliments on her looks, her intelligence, her piety, her knowledge and how she makes me feel in ways I’d never felt like. I mean the last one get as e be, but it worked for the moment. And it’s somehow true.
Then I explained to her how accepting of her Maymunah was when I told her. How she once showed me an Ayah of the Qur’an that gives her strength to accept Layla with open arms. How it wasn’t easy on Maymunah at all at first. She nodded and apologized after a lot of talk that night, but I told her she didn’t need to apologize. It’s normal for her to feel what she felt. But because we’re believers we’re stronger than our emotions.
That night was a beautiful night.
On the other end, I had to be extra careful of not showing too much excitement in front of Maymunah because she also had her own emotions. Our love had grown to the companionate stage, but Layla and I were still in the passionate.
One night just before sleeping, Maymunah got on the bed and showed me a handwritten letter Layla had sent her alongside a gift of perfume and a silk scarf. This was about a week after I told her how difficult it was for Maymunah and how she accepted on the bases of sisterhood and wanting for Layla what she wanted for herself.
Maymunah was smiling and blushing. She read the letter aloud and by the time she finished read it, she was in tears. The content of the letter was a heart to heart. There was no way Layla could be faking that. She basically was saying she’s thankful that Maymunah embraced her into the family. She didn’t have to do that because she was exercising her right to marriage when she married me. But what kind of world would we be living in when people do only what they ought to do?
Maymunah too always reciprocating goodness bought her gifts which she personally delivered and expressed how thankful she’s to have a very caring sister.
I had decided that I would present the idea of breaking the distance that existed in our living arrangements to both of them when I returned from masjid. When I got home, they both were on the porch outside, I thought about it again and decided, it would be an ambush if I presented it then. It would be better to have separate discussions with both of them so that I can get their honest takes on it.
As I walked into the house, I got a phone call from my immediate little brother. He said, “Bro, I need your advice.”
“There’s this sister I like. I want to do mosina.”
“Fatai, if I woos you!” I yelled, irritated. “Come to my office tomorrow. We need to talk face to face.”
I ended the call and wondered what was in the waters these days.
For the Ayah that gave Maymunah strength, see the comment. And while you’re here go ahead and order Dr. KT and Abu Imran books: