As a rule, I am usually reluctant to discuss polygamy in the presence of women. The last time I did this, three wanted to hang me from the nearest tree, two added that this should be done by my balls and one quietly slipped me her phone number. But I am getting reckless in my old age. So here goes…
Kadir, who is a regular teh tarik buddy, lives down the road. I see him maybe once or twice a month. The rest of the time he is probably in some far flung corner or the country. The reason? He’s a bus driver. Though he has not caused some major accident that has claimed a dozen lives, he maintains this is not his fault – there is still time yet for him to fulfil this time-honoured tradition of express bus drivers.
Kadir is candid – sometimes brutally so. He has no qualms expressing his non-performance issues. His job leaves him perpetually fatigued, his libido is as tame as a TV3 coverage of an UMNO convention and his appendage falls far short of the minimum female orgasm-inducing length of 8.5 cm (that’s centimeters, NOT inches). Though he has ages ago given up on finding a solution to the problem, friends still suggest all sorts of traditional (and less traditional) remedies every time we meet. In every instance, the story’s always the same: he’ll politely pretend to listen, shrug his shoulders and then quip, “That’s OK. But it sounds like too much hard work. I’ll give it a pass.”
It is unlikely that Kadir will be featured on TV’s ‘Bersama Mu’ anytime soon. Being an ordinary bus driver, however, he isn’t exactly a member of the Malay nouveau riche class either. We reckon he makes decent money. But none of us think it is enough to support his nine children. With four of them already in institutions of higher learning, we can only imagine the stress this puts on his finances. Whenever we ask how manages this feat, his stock answer is always a good natured, “What is enough for two will also be enough for three; what is enough for three will always be enough for four.” Some of us are still struggling to decipher the logic behind this statement. The rest of us just nod knowingly and pretend as if we have.
Everyone in our teh tarik session agree that Kadir is a breath of fresh air. The man never bitches about anything; never a bad word about anyone or anything. We have never heard him put down the Government nor the Opposition; complain about the economy and how the country is going to the dogs; or even lament the ever-increasing price of cigarettes. If anything ever comes out of his mouth, you can rest assured that it will be something nice. Yes, Kadir is annoying that way. And if he doesn’t have anything nice to say, he’ll just remain silent. But just let me say that Kadir is seldom (if ever) silent!
Over the past few months, we have come to accept and even enjoy Kadir’s almost naïve (but always sincere) view of things. We suspect that if we hang around him long enough, bitching about our lot in life will soon become as unfashionable as being a Donny Osmond fan. This is why we are ever so slightly sad when he has to go home early to his nine children and three wives – all of whom live under the same roof.
Yesterday, Ali couldn’t take it anymore. He came right out and asked Kadir, “How do you do it? How do you take on three wives and yet live peacefully under the same roof?”
“This is hardly fair! We have a hell of a time just trying to remain sane. And we have only one wife!” Hassan chipped in.
To this Haji Kassim added quite forcefully, “Yeah! And it’s not like you’re a stud or anything like that. We all know your pecker doesn’t quite measure up. And on the money front, you’re not exactly swimming in it either. What’s more, you’re almost as ugly as Bangkai there!”
Before I could smack the good Haji in the face for the last part of his statement, I felt Kadir’s hand on my shoulder, gently restraining me from doing what the gang was hoping that I was about to do. When he was certain that I was no longer a threat to anyone, Kadir took a sip of his teh tarik, smiled at Ali and Hassan, and calmly declared, “It’s easy, really – if you thought about it… ”
Everyone was all ears – even Haji Kassim.
“It’s not about the number of wives you have, my friends. Let’s face it. Is it certain that your marriage will be free from strife even if you have just one wife?” Kadir began.
“Then, what is it about, Kadir?”
Kadir lit his John Players. The rest of us were ready to fall off the edge of our seats. He took a drag from his cigarette, slowly exhaled and continued, “If you must take another wife, make sure it is someone who doesn’t think she is your equal.”
“Yes, your problem is not the in the numbers. Your problem, my dear friends, is a wife who thinks she is your equal. And, God forbid, even worse is a wife who thinks she is better than you. She need not necessarily be better than you. But if she thinks she is, you’re a dead man.” Kadir explained.
Scanning faces around the table, I saw a few walking dead men.