Second Wife

Gulsum Basheer

A good husband makes a good wife, even if she is his second wife.

I was 26 years old when I got married. My husband was 52 at that time. That made him 26 years my senior.

I was his second wife.

In my country and community our horoscope is designed at the time of our birth. This astrological forecast known as Jadagam plays a major part when looking out for a spouse.

It sounds very strange when I say it now, but according to my horoscope I could only marry a person who had already been married before – like a widower or a divorcee. Talk about Karma!

But the constellations did not completely desert me when I was born. It had pre destined a good husband for me.

A little about my husband – He was working as a professor in a college in Brunei. His first wife had given him 3 sons. The first son had been married and the second son engaged to be married, when she died.

A bit about me – I had an older brother and three older sisters and was the fifth born in a  middle class family. My father had died very young and my only brother supported us and got my 3 sisters married on his humble earning.

I was the thorn in his flesh. My mother a staunch believer in the horoscope would not let me marry a “first-timer,” that is someone who had not been married before.

A friend of my uncle suggested this proposal to my mother. Considering the age difference between us, my mother was not too keen on the match. But that friend was very persuasive and we decided to meet the man.

To ease the family burden, I had decided to marry the 52-year-old professor from Brunei who according to this family friend, looked very young and was a soft spoken and gentle person.

Also in my mind’s eye Brunei sounded exotic

My uncle’s friend brought the professor to visit us.

He wanted to speak to me alone.

The first question he asked me was:

Are you being compelled to marry me against your wishes?

I shook my head and whispered, “No.”

Then he said, “You look very young. You ARE very young.”

I did not reply. He was thoughtful for sometime.

The he asked:

“Will you leave me and run away after marriage, considering I am much older than you?”

I become brazen finding him so gentle and sweet. I told him:

“No. I will not run away. Will you leave me and run away considering I am much younger than you?”

He gave a little laugh, kind of like how you laugh when a little child has said something amusing.

“No. I will not run away.” He said, mimicking me.

“So that is settled then”

“Yes, that is settled then.”

And we were married a few weeks later.

My husband was much more than any girl could hope to find in a husband.  We had a wonderful life. He never left me and ran away – for thirty years.

After that too, he never ran away.

He was borne away in a casket, by the two children I bore him and the three he already had when I wed 


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