The Best of Both Worlds, Perhaps?
Twenty years ago, handfuls Saudi university students started graduating with a B.S. in Medical Technology. They came to KFSH for their clinical internship, and I was fortunate to have initiated a few of them into the practice of analytical laboratory testing.
One student, a woman who covered her face, except for her eyes, became a friend, of sorts. After I got over the uneasiness of not seeing her face, and after she lifted her veil in the women’s cafeteria a few times, I relaxed, and we started to compare notes regarding our lives, experiences, and goals, etc.
She told me she was a third wife. She already had a daughter from a previous marriage, in which she was a second wife. The divorce bothered her not because of polygyny, but because the first husband did not want her to complete her education and work. She, on the other hand, had developed a passion and a talent for her field, and with a strong personality, was not about to give it up.
The current husband, who had two other wives, was fine with her career, and she was fine with the other wives. They all had separate villas, small but comfortable, and this woman lived with her mother and still small daughter.
I was dying to know about the sleeping arrangements, but could not ask directly, of course, so I ventured to ask, “Where does your husband live?”
“With ME!” came her indignant response. At that moment, I wished my own face were covered to hide the redness of embarrassment. I never asked again, sensing that I’d hit a raw nerve. She never elaborated, except to complain a few times that he had mixed up the nights, and inconvenienced her.
This woman had her cake and ate it, too.