Yusuf was a prosperous merchant and contented with his life and lived with his wife Arifa and two sons. He loved his family and would have been happy except for his wife’s nasty temper. One day, he called out to his wife: “Arifa, it is time for me to leave for work, have you filled my bath-tub with water.” And, sure enough his wife came out of the kitchen boiling with rage: “Do you think that I am sitting idly? Don’t you see that I am busy cooking a breakfast for all of you since morning? It doesn’t appear on the dining table by itself?” raged Arifa.
Finally, one day, the merchant had enough of his wife. He thought long and hard and left for Hajj to get away from her and also to pray to the Almighty to cure his wife out of her ill-temper. Soon after the merchant left, Arifa turned towards her sons and yelled at them: “How long should I remain a bonded slave in my own house. My bones are old and tired, and ache constantly, for raising-up two stone pillars like you!” The eldest son turned towards his brother and said: “Perhaps, it is time for me to get married so that my wife could help my mother.”
He got married and soon enough, he heard his mother yelling at his wife: “You blockhead! Why have you poured so much oil into the food? It is a shame that your mother did not teach you how to cook!” So, it continued, and before long the elder brother Irfan turned to his younger brother Rehan and said: “I have decided to move out of the house as it is impossible for Mom and my wife to live in harmony in the same house.” Rehan thought long and hard: “My brother and his wife left the house because of her mother. I have to make her realize in one way or the other her bad temper is tearing our family apart.” He went to his uncle in a nearby city and they both devised a plan to make Arifa see the error of her ways. After a couple of days, Rehan returned home and said to his mother: “Mom! I married my uncle’s daughter Shaheen for he insisted that he would like to see her married as he was nearing the end of his days. Everything happened suddenly, and I am sorry that I had no way of informing you about it. I have kept her in the empty flat,which my father had purchased for me next door so that she should not get on your nerves.” Secretly, Arifa was pleased that Rehan had married within the family. But her ego was hurt that her son had not brought her home to live with her and decided to teach them both a lesson. The next morning, soon after Rehan left for work, she started throwing the cutlery in the kitchen smashing the priceless Chinaware to pieces. Not content with the act, she started to spill all the food items on the floor and started crying at the top of her voice: “Is there anyone to come to my help? My daughter-in-law has attacked me and has locked herself inside her house.” Soon, her neighbors in the apartment block came running to her door. Arifa was crying and was both in pain and despair. One of them said:
“O’ Arifa,this is indeed a terrible act.”
Another said: “What kind of a lady is she who attacks her old mother-in-law? She should be punished.”
They all marched towards the flat next door, where Shaheen lived. As a knock on the door found no response, they broke open the door, and rushed inside, only to find it empty, full of dust and cobwebs, as if no person had lived there since ages. Immediately, one of the neighbors called Rehan on his office phone to rush home and solve the riddle for them. Rehan arrived within a short time and explained everything: “My mother has been losing her temper with all of us. And, I have not married anyone. I did this to show how terribly wrong she is in behaving rudely with her own family.” The neighbors were equally angry at Arifa:”We know now who is to be blamed for all this trouble that has been caused by you,” they told Arifa. Arifa’s heart was filled with sorrow, and she regretted her action. She started weeping continuously and said: “Forgive your old mother my son. I will try to control my temper. Please don’t leave me like your father and brothers.” Rehan said: “On the other hand, my father and brother are equally fond of you. For, it was from you that we learnt the Holy Qur’an and the Hadith as children. You had taught us that the Holy Qur’an states: “Allah says: He loves those who pardon people.” My father and brother are waiting to come home, and we only wanted you to change. His words had a deep effect on his mother. She was a changed woman now. Soon, the entire family were reunited and they lived happily ever after.
By Khushthar Jamal