I thought to myself, “how many times does this guy, Zam, got married?” It could be three or four times or even more, but I lost track of it. Zam is definitely not someone that is going to mate only with a partner in his lifetime. It is either his wife is dead or divorced or gone AWOL. Nevertheless, each night, he knows that he will still be looking for a man.
He is living two realities. A reality of fulfilling the desires of others besides himself, and another reality of being himself. The desire of others he is submitting himself to is of his parents, family, not surprisingly, religion.
You would have thought that the death of his parents and his first wife would let him finally be liberated from the pressure of marriage. Yet, he is still compelled to this narrative of perfecting himself in the image of a true Muslim man by being with a woman. But such reality is only a part of his identity.
At night, another reality comes into being where he may live out what he desires other than a need to have a wife. As he found guys on dating apps to be with for the night, he will tell his wife not to wait for him. And for the many hours as the dark reigns, he is not a husband, but a man in need of a man.
Now I might be dramatizing his story too much, and for him to be with a woman may also be due to an existing sexual desire for a woman as well, but what pushes this circumstance to continue to happen is a need to live out realities instead of only a reality. Even as Zam is reaching 50, the need to live out a reality in accordance with what people wanted him to be is still within him. And as he is reaching 50, the reality of himself fully aware of his sexuality is also something that he cannot drown out just by being married.
I believe a woman is worth much more than being with a man that cannot be true to himself. And I believe as well that a man is worth much more than to be with a woman just to fill a gap between what he is supposed to be, and what he really is.
I sympathise with his wife (or wives) that will continue to wait for him every single night. But I also sympathise with him because I know that he is also a victim of his condition. What shall we do then so that such sympathy may no longer be something that I and everyone else have to give out for people in a relationship like this?
I think we should teach everyone to put themselves first before anyone or anything else that is not letting themselves be who they are. This is a cliché solution for any other problem, but in the reality of identity, it is a lot harder to accept particularly when there is too much at stake upon an individual in living their own reality.
There is no amount of conversion therapy practices, marriages, or pressure from a family that can tell you what you are supposed to desire. But we continue to believe so because we are putting everyone else through a way of perceiving life limited to our own. And as we do so, the people that will seek out anyone other than their spouse and struggle with their own identity will always be present. But as they do so, they are trapped in this cycle of making flawed decisions due to the forced condition they are in, and they will be the ones to be blamed for being in such.
Acceptance of other people’s conditions is hard because it will always be foreign to us and a condition that we will have a hard time understanding. But who said things will be simple for everyone? There will be people living an identity that is not ours, a gender and sexuality we do not share with, and a reality that is not theirs. We have a hard time accepting it, but they will be the ones to have a harder time.
We will still need to take a step towards an acceptance of a reality not ours. Or else there will be more Zam, and more wives that will continue to wait.
Ahmad Yasin is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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