Story of R. K. retold by Mira Khatib
I hear the water from the shower echoing through the walls, I know I have at least 5 minutes. I grab his wallet and look at the bills; I choose a 50, as he won’t notice it missing from that big stack of cash. I rush and hide it with the rest of my cash tucked safely in one of my old stockings shoved in the back of my drawer. It’s over, my heart slows down and I gather my breath, the thought of him catching me scares me, I can only imagine what he might do if caught red handed, as nothing is as dear to my husband as his beloved cash.
I wasn’t always like this, brought up in a very generous household filled with kindness and sharing was just the norm. But since the day that ring was placed on my finger cuffing my fate to a life of thriftiness and not due to lack of money mind you, but the opposite to get more of it. My husband’s life revolves around making money, gathering money and saving money and only if he must spend is for the mere necessities. So we live like the poor although his bank account is one like the rich.
You can imagine my horror when the first time we went grocery shopping, still unaware of his stingy and selfish personality; yes he hid it well during our engagement, but after marriage “why put the effort once the price is won?” he mocked me. Every time I reached out to put an item in our cart, he would question why do I need it? Was it that important? And if there was a cheaper alternative? At first I thought he was joking but soon the reality sunk in when he made me pay for my own expensive shampoo and deodorant, “Why do you even need these things? What’s wrong with soap?” he shouted.
I went crying to my parents but with the traditional Arab mentality telling me to go back and be a good wife that he is only saving for our future and I should be more understanding. I was forced to work as I need money, and I swear if he could make me pay for rent he would, if it wasn’t to save face in front of family members.
We became isolated from everyone as social life costs money, and I started turning away from friends being ashamed that I cannot keep up or match their gifts on special occasions. I find myself alone and lonely. Thinking of a gloomy and miserable future, but then I came up with a plan. I will not surrender to such a life, I will not let him steal away my youth and deprive me of a decent life. So at every opportunity I steal from him! Yes, I do and I don’t feel guilty about it. He turned me into this greedy woman…but I am trying to buy my freedom. One day I will have enough and will leave him even against all accusing fingers and unapproving gazes.
When we sit in the heat of the night on a tiny light bulb to save electricity, all I think of is the time when I will live free and turn on all the lights and take long showers and enjoy the coolness of an AC, and that’s what keeps me going and keeps me being a thief.