Better to play it safe than be sorry

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Have you ever been so mad at somebody that you were overcome with an overwhelming urge to strike back, and strike hard? In most instances and with most people, reason takes over and the hunger for revenge gradually dissipates. But there are other people who will just not let it blow away. Consumed with a passion for retaliation, they wait for an opportune time and then hit back where it usually hurts!

This phenomenon is not limited to a certain race or nation. There are no defined geographical boundaries for this set of human emotions. It happens everywhere. And it was a particular incident of this nature, told to me by the aggressor, that inspired this article.

Jennifer, a New Yorker married to a Saudi engineer and a highly independent lady, related an incident that took place shortly after her initial arrival in the Kingdom. After the introductory cultural shock, she had become exceedingly reliant on her husband for just about everything. After all, he was the only family she had here. They had no children yet. In the Big Apple, she managed quite comfortably on her own. But in this male dominated society, she had to often defer to the whims and timings of her husband.

Insensitive to her sense of isolation in a strange land, her husband compounded her insecurities by devoting most of his free time to his childhood passion - fish aquariums! He would spend hours on end feeding the fish and reading all he could about them, cleaning the tank methodically, and often babbling in fish talk to his little beauties swimming in the tank. Whatever spare money they had, he would not hesitate to spend on some rare species or the other, an act that did not sit well with Jennifer. The last straw was when he spent money that they had earmarked for a dining room set on a 50-gallon fish tank with all the trimmings!

Finally Jennifer had enough. One morning just after her husband had had his breakfast, soothed his fish, and bade her goodbye as he left for work, she went to the laundry closet and pulled out the Clorox bottle that she had been concealing for some days. In a fit of rage, she poured the contents of the bottle of toxic liquid into her husband’s beloved aquarium.

Needless to say, all the little fish did little belly flops and passed away into fish heaven. The couple’s relationship survived as children were later born, although Jennifer’s husband could no longer look at a fish tank without recollecting the trauma he first encountered on his return home that eventful day. His passions were then redirected toward his growing family.

Waleed recounts an incident that took place just as he was preparing to leave for a training course to a European capital. He was very excited and looking forward to this trip as neither he nor his wife had ever been west of the Red Sea. He tried hard to convince his wife not to accompany him on this trip, as he would be busy all day in classroom training sessions, and all night studying for the following day.

As his wife watched him pack his suitcase, she wondered why he was neatly folding business as well as leisure clothes and swimming suits into his bag. After he had gone to the shower to wash up for the trip, she picked up a small can of kerosene and poured all the contents over his meticulously arranged clothes. Then she lit a match.

Trying desperately to avoid catastrophe, her half-clad husband finally managed to put the fire out. The next morning, he had to report to the Civil Defense authorities to explain the cause of the fire. Goodbye European vacation!

Hasan did not want his wife to go to a wedding party. He just did not like the idea of her staying out so late, as this party was bound to last into the wee hours of the night. She remained adamant, as it was the wedding of one of her close high school friends.

Returning home at 10 p.m. from the beauty salon where she had had her hair done, she had instructed her driver to remain on standby as she went to prepare the rest of herself. Her husband snuck into the driver’s room, took his mobile phone and sent him off on an errand...to Makkah! And they lived in Jeddah.

Instructing him to drive very slowly and carefully, he assured the puzzled driver that he, the husband, would drop Madam off at the wedding hall. Hasan then told the housemaid that if Madam inquired, to tell her that the driver had gone to fill gasoline in the car and would be back anytime. And off he slipped away to a friend’s house with his phone also turned off. It was a warm and muggy night.

The poor lady, all coiffured up, waited and waited until her hairstyle wilted in the heat, and mascara streamed down her cheeks. She wasn’t going to show up at her friend’s wedding in her sweat-drenched outfit and not looking her best. Dejectedly, she called it an early night and went to bed, vowing to terminate the services of her unfortunate driver who had still not returned.

Ahmed J., a bureaucrat in a local municipality, remembers an incident that took place whilst he was in his office and on the phone with his wife. An angry customer burst into the office demanding very vocally the reasons as to why his application for something or the other was taking so long. Ahmed told him to wait as he was on the phone with his family.

This did not sit well with the angry man. Accusing Ahmed of wasting the public’s time and money while he pursued personal affairs on departmental time, the young man stormed out of the office. When Ahmed was through with his phone call, during which he and has wife had settled on the kind and color of carpeting they were planning to purchase, he asked one of his subordinates for the file containing the angry customer’s application. He placed it in his valise along with other papers that he usually took home.

At the end of the day on the drive home, Ahmed noticed a large municipality garbage bin by the side of the road. Pulling alongside it, he dumped the file of the angry man and all it’s contents into the trash receptacle before continuing on.

Remember, the next time you get mad, don’t spite someone at the risk of getting your own fingers burned!

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena


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