The following is a fictional story that took place back in the sixties in one of Irbid's villages. The name of the village shall remain unknown forever.
Um Jameeleh can’t be happy anymore. She knows a secret that she can’t reveal to anybody, especially not her husband or her brothers. A secret so painful and terrifying, she prays day and night that Allah will forgive her and make it easy on her when her soul ascends to the sky. She wonders every moment if there was something she could have done to prevent her daughter’s tragic death. Both her secret and agony made her distant from the women in the village.
For a couple of years she had a problem with her husband but that was nothing compared to her loss of her daughter, Jameeleh.
Um Jameeleh1 used to love it when Abu Jameeleh2 tells her that he is traveling to Damascus. Because he always comes back with a different mood, not his usual short temper one that escalates when he stays in the village more than usual. Besides coming with a rejuvenate spirit, he always brings her something special from Damascus. She never disliked any of the sexy lace lingerie, the satin pajamas or the Jasmine perfumes he buys her from Damascus. Abu Jameeleh was a truck driver. He drives goods from and to Kuwait, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. But most of his loads were from Syria. Therefore, it was inevitable that he spends most of his time in Syria, while outside Jordan.
Unfortunately, Um Jameeleh’s happy marriage and her joyful anticipation to see her husband coming back from Damascus with a new sexy garment didn’t last for long. Um Khalid ruined her happiness and her marriage, all because of a single remark. “I will cut my arm if Abu Jameeleh is not married Shamiyyeh3. Why do you think he keeps going to Syria? Work?” Um Khalid whispered, with a smirk, to a woman sitting beside her. Unfortunately, Um Jameeleh overheard the remark one day at an old woman’s funeral reception.
Sadly, the idea that Abu Jameeleh could be married to a different woman haunted Um Jameeleh. What made it more difficult for her is that she could never be sure. She confronted her husband many times, but he always shouts and screams at her. He becomes upset whenever she asks him if he is married in Syria. He told her many times that the village women spread rumors because they are jealous of her good life.
“Who will feed you and your daughter if I stayed at home?”4 Abu Jameeleh shouts angrily sometimes. This usually is his answer whenever Um Jameeleh questions him about his short temper and irritation. Sometimes Abu Jameeleh stays in the village for a couple of weeks before he is called again for a new job and a new travel. Um Jameeleh used to believe that her husband needs to travel to be able to support the family, but after Um Khalid’s remark she has doubts. She is now afraid that he has another wife in Syria. Why else would he come happy and becomes short tempered if he doesn’t see his Syrian wife? But if he doesn’t love me, he will not buy me gifts. Or are these gifts to hide his marriage from the Shamiyyeh? Um Jameeleh spends most of the day haunted with such questions.
To be continued…
1, 2. Jameeleh is an Arabic name for beautiful. Um means mother in Arabic. In Jordan, it is more common to call adults by their first child's name. Um Jameeleh means the mother of Jameeleh. Abu Jameeleh means the father of Jameeleh. 3. A Syrian woman. 4. When a child does something bad or during an intense argument between the husband and the wife, many Arab men imply that the children are their wives. Abu Jameela said "your daughter" but she is his as well.