This morning we are up at the crack of dawn as Omar has to go to the sugarcane field for its monthly irrigation! Everyone is up, getting ready for school or work and all I can hear, as I sit upstairs in my flat having my morning coffee, is the cow lowing. No-one seems to be taking much notice, so after half an hour of listening to her I decide to go downstairs and check her out; to make sure she is not thirsty or hungry. It might also be that the sheep are out of the enclosure so she is ‘calling’ them back. Omar has the donkey with him too, which adds to her loneliness, so I go downstairs to see what she needs, if anything.
She had no water and her food is trampled underfoot, mixed in with her excrement and urine,a lovely feast I’m sure! She is tethered, as always, so only has a small-ish space to move around in. They feed her here by throwing sugarcane stalks and other greens at her feet, and within half an hour it is filthy and inedible. Not only is it an awful waste of resources it is also dirty; it hasn’t been cleaned in weeks! As a result, the flies drive her mad. These flies have a vicious bite and suck her blood. They will also suck yours if you stand there too long! Flies are a fact of life here but there are things you can do, if you can be bothered!
So, after giving the cow some grass, which someone had thrown to the sheep, I found a bucket of water, also for the sheep and out of her reach; and with the help of young Zeeyad, gave her some food and water. She was calling the sheep, as someone had let them out to be fed, away from her, so she was on her own.
As I stood there I noticed someone behind me, Mother-in-law. She sat down and started to collect the foodstuff left behind after the sheep. They use this for the bread oven. She explained that the cow was calling for the sheep. I stayed there, talking to the cow with 5 year old Zeeyad, and Mother stayed there too. Why was she there? She sat, and then said that she was there to collect the stuff for the bread oven. She must have read my mind! I felt uncomfortable, as though I was under surveillance, but I stayed for an few minutes, by which time she was sitting virtually beneath my feet, then I left the enclosure to check out the sheep, as they were trying to come back in; and another child, young Ahmed, had decided that he was going to beat them back! Which he did, with a stick! He is four years old!
I wondered if I was imagining Mother’s watching me with the cow, but as soon as I left,. so did she, and she came to sit down beside where the sheep were eating. I was standing watching them, feeling more and more pushed out by the second. The message was very clear: this is none of your business. The fact that the cow is ours, as are three of the sheep is irrelevant. I. as a wife, have no power here and my only use is when they need something from me, which is a lot of the time! We had the same problems with the chickens. I bought my own and she interfered endlessly and I gave them all to her and stayed in my flat! I have no right to be anywhere else it would seem,. But it is not just me that she does this to. All the other wives, apart from her favourite, are treated the same. They struggle to find any space here to take care of themselves, she makes sure they have no power. Butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.
We had an interesting issue a couple of months ago. We bought two ducks from her, to add to our own drake. But when we first bought the cow I noticed that there was no drake. I looked everywhere. Omar asked his mother where it was and she claimed that there had never been a drake, only a female. I knew then that she had killed it! She denied down to the ground, that there had ever been a drake, the fact that we had photos of him with the female was also not the truth! No matter what we said she denied its existence, but the kids dobbed her in! They had been there when she was killing it and they said that it was our duck! But she ignored them. She knew it was ours!, She was killing it jealousy, because Omar had told her, the previous week, that I was the best woman in the house! She was giving me a very clear message! However, it backfired on her. Because she had been caught in the lie her other son told her that she now had to give us two of her ducks in recompense. She was not happy but could do nothing about it. But she also thought that she would not lose them as they would have to stay downstairs. There was no other place for them…or so she thought!
I decided that I wanted to give them to to Nagat, Omar’s lovely older sister! So Omar brought the three ducks upstairs and we called a service taxi to go to Nagat’s farm. I wanted to teach Mother a lesson. If you lie, cheat and steal then there are consequences! Being nice to me in front of your son, but being the opposite when he is not around, is crap!
So I will be glad to leave here and set up our own farm, and I will not feel remotely guilty when we take our animals with us! As much as I want to be involved here I cannot be, so I spend my days crafting in my flat and staying away from her! I know when I’m not wanted…unless there is a bill to pay!