Letter: Dying while Polygamous

My father introduced my mother to polygyny the way so many men do, by having her find out from another relative that dad had married again, a woman 15 years younger than my mother. I was ten years old when mum found out. That morning, before she found out, was the last time ever I saw my mum happy. The last time ever I saw her laugh.

She did what so many women do, she wept and raged. She wailed in the night when she thought we were asleep. My father just kept repeating that it was his right, that she had to come to terms with it, that she would destroy their marriage and family if she didn’t accept it. My mum tried to find help from the Quran, from the Masjid, from scholars. They all told her that my father had been wrong the times he had lied about his doings, but that he had been right in taking another wife, in doing it without informing her.

My mother chose the path of doing nothing. Just allowing her heart to go cold and her life to turn into a void, a nothingness. She stopped hugging us, stopped allowing anybody near her, stopped talking about anything but chores at hand. She just gave up on life.

Two years ago, my father was diagnozed with cancer. He had surgery, but the cancer had spread. Now, he’s receiving palliative care. He’s bedridden, and uses diapers. He’s in constant pain, and gets his nourishment through a tube. They say he may have another six months to live..

We all live in Norway. Dad doesn’t have to stay in a hospital, because he can get all the care he needs at home. It’s his urgent wish to die at home. Problem is, where is that? My siblings and I don’t know what to do now. We keep arguing about taking sides, about how to help. My dad has asked us to plead with mum. I won’t do it. I could write pages about the pain he’s caused us, about all the times he’s forced his “rights” on us. And about how much I still love him.

My mother says this is the punishment dad gets for polygyny. She has had people over from the masjid telling dad that he is not allowed to stop giving each wife her time unless the wives agree. And they don’t. Mother says she will never give up her nights, and she says he must go to his other wife during her nights because the other wife is obligated to care for him. The scholars agree. So my father has to be taken by ambulance from one wife to another. The doctors say this might kill him, and it is causing him excruciating pain. The health care system also refuses to pay for the constant transports so it’s very expensive. They have all tried to talk to mum, tried to make her show some mercy. They keep telling her that having a right doesn’t mean that claiming that right is the right thing to do. We should be merciful. Mum just keeps saying that this is exactly what Allah swt wants to prove, and that is why he is giving this punishment to my father.

 

So here we are, in a merciless dance around love and hate, rights and mercy. And I am completely lost.