Sunday, 2 May 2010

Change is good! Is it? Yes!! No!! Maybe!! I Don't Know!! (Can you repeat the question?)

You're not the boss of me now,
You're not the boss of me now,
You're not the boss of me now,
And you're not so big!

You're not the boss of me now,
You're not the boss of me now,
You're not the boss of me now,
And you're not so big!

Life is unfair...

(Love Malcolm in the Middle!)

Anyway, I recently changed my job a few weeks ago. Alhamdulillah, I had been head-hunted and asked to work for an opposing company. I met with the employer over lunch and he explained to me the benefits he would give. Big pay rise, less work. Sounded good already. What was the catch? He carried on. Free iphone. Cheap phone contract. He'd buy me an outfit. In fact, two suits; so that I can look like a real professional. There was a cheap car leasing plan further down the line. Discounts on the best flights, hotels, cruises and even a monthly lunch allowance! So what would I have to sacrifice, I asked. "I know that you get 29 days holiday a year in your current job. Here, I'm only offering you 20 days holiday per year".

Sounds like a compromise.

But a compromise that I can accept. I guess this change is good. I get to work in a nice location, with a nice team and a very chilled out environment. A couple weeks into my new job, and I get a phone call from another company saying that they want me to work for them. I couldn't really speak to her as my boss was stood next to me at the time. So I took her number to give her a call back later.

Looks like the compromise I accepted has led on to much better things. And looks like the initial change initiated even more change; which was again, good.

But not all change is good.

Let me tell you a story of a potential that I am so glad I left behind.

This is a story of "Khadijah".

Khadijah was the girl that I was set up with about a year back. In fact, my brother set us up. She lived in Ireland, so she was quite a distance away. But I didn't mind that fact. We were both marriage seekers and we were both keen on the idea of getting to know each other. We had checked each others' stats, and things looked good.

Since I didn't want to waste time and money with international-rate phone calls, we arranged for her to immediately come to UK so that we could meet face-to-face and see where that takes us. Since that was the plan, I restricted all communication with her because I wanted to save it all for the real thing. I paid for her flight and arranged accommodation at my parents' house - luckily, my parents only live around the corner from me, so it made things easy in terms of communication. Unfortunately, my parents had left the country on holiday, but at least my brothers and sisters were around to meet this girl.

I picked her up from the airport and took her to a restaurant which I knew had some good food. Conversation was good - we seemed to hit it off quite well with each other.

On the drive home, we talked about a lot of things. In fact, too many things (in my opinion). She declared that she didn't want to have kids until she finished her studies. That would have been 3 years at least. A bit long for a guy my age! Then she said that she didn't want to wear a jilbab. I thought that this was quite a strange statement to make. So I briefly looked at her and said "...o....kay". She went on to say that she had seen my mother and sisters all wearing jilbab on facebook, and she felt that she was not ready to wear one (even though she wears a hijab). I was slightly confused as to why she was being so forward with everything - it was the first time we had met in real life.

So I asked her why she wouldn't wear one (out of curiosity). She said that as a medic, it would be difficult to wear one and that all the other Muslim medics would not wear a jilbab either. I started to smell something funny. Smelt like bull excrement. My sister works in a lab, yet she dons the jilbab. Also, a previous potential that my mother wanted me to hook up with was also studying in the medical department and was still able to wear a jilbab in the lab. So I told her about my sister and my previous potential. Then she changed her reason - to the fact that she was not ready to wear it yet. Ok. So why not just say that in the first place? She was putting all the cards on the table when it came to everything else (like having babies), yet she had to cover up the fact that she was not ready to wear jilbab. Was she trying to deceive me?

I then talked about how some people change quickly, while other need time. And that change is dependant on many things, such as support from family, the environment and that the individual also has to want to change; and exert some sort of effort into changing, if that is what they want to do. I decided to overlook this weird conversation and carried on talking about other things instead. But no matter how hard I tried, I could not forget about this conversation.

I brought her back to my parents' house to meet my younger sisters, but she acted really strange around them. For starters, she would not even sit with them. My sisters were young teenagers. The shyest and least-intimidating girls I know! Yet for some reason, Khadijah didn't even want to sit down with them. Instead, she just wanted to go to her room. Fair enough. I guess. She did have to fly for a whole hour or so to get to the UK! lol. So I showed Khadijah to her room and told her that she need not worry about any formalities. I told her to raid the kitchen for food if she was hungry. I told her that in the morning, she should ask my sister to prepare some sort of breakfast for her. Or just do everything herself - whichever she was more comfortable with. Her response: "I'm too shy to do that. I'm not leaving this room until you come in the morning and knock on my door".

You what??

Confusion struck. And many thoughts started flowing through my mind. Well, doesn't she have to pray? I know there's no en-suite in that room, so she has to leave. But then again, what if it is her time of the month? Ok, make 40 excuses for her and give her the benefit of the doubt. I didn't want to think too much about it, so I left her to her room and went back to my house.

I couldn't help thinking whether Khadijah was serious or not about not leaving her room until I knock on her door. So I decided to test her. I had told her that I would come back at around 8am for breakfast. But I purposely stayed in bed until around 10am. Then I called my sister to find out if Khadijah had eaten. "No", was the reply. So I asked my sister to knock on the door and ask Khadijah to come downstairs to eat. My sister replied that Khadijah was waiting for me to come first before she comes out of her room. Surely, that is weird behaviour. Please tell me if it isn't.

So I slowly made my way to my parents house. I got there and found out there was no food worthy of a good breakfast. So I decided to take her out to eat. Luckily, my local Tesco's has a nice restaurant where we can sit and talk.

We engaged in some serious conversation - including topics such as what our parents would think about us getting together, where we would live and problems and obstacles that we may see on the way. Seems like there were many problems that would get in our way.

I asked her what her parents would think of me. And what they would think about the man who is going to marry their daughter, yet cannot even speak their language. "I'm willing to do everything to convince my parents that you are the best man for me. I'm ready to convince them, I'm ready to cry."

Woah, woah, woah. What was that last bit? Ready to cry? As in, baby tantrum when she doesn't get her own way, kind of crying? Surely not. I can't expect that from someone intelligent enough to study medicine. So I said nothing and let her carry on speaking.

Then, she wanted me to move back to her homeland after her studies. Me - move to her homeland? Is she crazy? How on earth can I financially survive in a land I know nothing about? Surely we should go where the rizq lies? And since I would be the breadwinner, and I am already in a job and loving my career, wouldn't it make sense that she relocates to wherever I am working? Or is that just being insensitive?

She was happy about the idea of me uprooting and leaving my career here in the UK and starting again from scratch in her motherland. However, when I suggested the opposite - that she moves to the UK, her reaction was to break down and cry. "You want me to choose between you and my mother?", she said while crying. I didn't respond. That's because I was thinking about the previous statement she made which has been permanently scarred into my memory - the fact that she was willing to cry to get her own way. So I stood my ground (naturally). "I can't find a job in (your motherland). It's too difficult", I said. "It took me years to be where I am now - I can't just let that all go. And besides, this type of business is not as financially rewarding in (the motherland) as it is here in the UK".

I explained how the duty of the husband is to be responsible for putting food on the table, and that I was not convinced that I could make any business in her motherland. I explained that I didn't want to be supported by her, or her family. I explained that I didn't want to even think about moving to her motherland until I had secured at least a well-paid job there. While I was explaining this, I watched as she struggled to stop the tears running down her face. I know she was trying to lay on the guilt. And I totally did not appreciate this.

So we came to a compromise. I would look for work in her motherland, but before that, nothing were to happen between us.

When I finally managed to stop her from crying, I went back to my house to pick up my wallet (she paid for breakfast that morning as I had forgotten to bring my wallet). As I entered my parents' house, I saw my brother downstairs (the one who set us up) and I told him that Khadijah had been crying. He quickly asked me to bring her in so that he could cheer her up. He showed her his wedding pictures and got her to smile again.

Then Khadijah asked me to take her shopping to buy some ingredients as she wanted to cook dinner for me that evening. I obliged and took her to town. As we drove around, I was showing her my favourite places to go for a run, walk and hang out. Turns out she doesn't like sports. It makes her 'sweaty'. Looks like we actually have nothing in common.

When we got to town, we were walking around and she felt kinda peckish. Normally, I would take my friends to a nice halal place which does chicken tikka paninis. The best ones I have ever tasted. But I was starting to dislike this girl. So I started thinking of where the worst place is that I could take her. To give her a little hint. McDonald's and Burger King came to mind! Firstly, they don't have any halal stuff, apart from the fish burgers and vegetarian options. Secondly, their fish burgers and vegetarian options were disgusting! lol. So naturally, I took her to one of these fast food restaurants. I wasn't that hungry for this type of food, so I didn't order anything for me.

I thought she would be repulsed by this gesture or at least get the hint that I was not interested in impressing her any more. But she wasn't, and didn't.

When we got to the shops, I told her that I would like olives in my salad. I absolutely love olives! And you can mix pineapples in the salad as well to make an absolutely gorgeous salad, but she was having none of it! She refused to even try olives in the salad.

It was then that I realised that she refused a lot of things. She refused to compromise on a lot of things. She refused to even TRY things. So far, she has refused to have kids before she finishes her studying, refused to try to attempt wearing a jilbab, refused to leave her bedroom for breakfast, refused to relocate to the UK, refused to try certain sports, refuse to try certain foods... where will it end? She refused to change even one aspect of her life.

And at the same time, she was demanding that I change every aspect of my life. She's asked me to change my job, change my career, change my lifestyle, change my home, change my relationship with my family, change my music taste, the way I drive and even change the foods that I eat.

I thought change was supposed to be good? If it's supposed to be good, then it sure don't feel like it!

I was starting to feel very uncomfortable with her.

Later that evening, Khadijah was cooking and as she was finishing cooking, she informed me that it would be about five minutes before the curry would be done, so all I had to do was to turn off the gas. Then, she went upstairs to take a shower. My little brothers and sisters started eating as soon as the food was done which disappointingly left me and Khadijah as the only ones who had not eaten yet. Big sis came to parents' house. I had asked her to sustain the one and a half hour drive back to parents' house to help me bring Khadijah back to the airport; as at the same time, I had to pick up my parents from a different airport which was in totally the opposite direction. Oh by the way, Khadijah had refused to let my big sis take her to the airport. But this time, I forced her to accept. I called out to big sis to come join us to eat, but she either didn't hear or pretended not to hear, thinking that she was doing me a favour by leaving me to eat alone with Khadijah. (Big sis later confirmed that she did not hear me, but would have joined us at the table if she had heard us).

Dinner was very awkward. I could not think of any good conversational topics to cover. I'm normally a very talkative person. But that night, I was struggling. On top of that, the food wasn't that great either. lol. It's not as good as mum's cooking. Heck, it wasn't even as good as MY cooking! hehe. But that's minor anyway.

After dinner, I asked Khadijah what she wanted to do. She was like "ermmm....", so I suggested that she go watch X Factor with my sisters. She refused. By this time, I was tired of hearing her refuse things. I mean, X Factor is so funny to watch! Simon Cowell makes some proper snide comments and it is such a laugh! Note: I'm not angry that she is not interested in X Factor. I'm just frustrated that she won't do anything with anyone but me.

So, I had a brainwave. I would tell her that I am tired and that I wanted to sleep. That would send her to her room. And I would avoid having to converse with her about nothing. Try that - conversing about nothing, with long awkward gaps in between. It's excruciatingly painful. Only problem was that it was only about 8pm. Who the hell sleeps at 8pm? 12 years olds. Not people like me. Soulseek knows that I only sleep about 5 hours a night. Seven hours if I want to treat myself. I knew it was a long shot, but I thought I would give it a go. So I told her that I was tired and that I wanted to sleep. She became disappointed. And said that she wanted me to stay up so that we could chat.

You what??

Chat? How can you chat with someone you have nothing in common with? It's like putting an ASBO kid together with a professor and telling them that they have to converse. It wasn't happening. So I told Khadijah that I have to pick my parents up from the airport early next morning and that I should have an early night. Luckily, she bought it. She went up to her room and instructed me to come see her before I leave the next day, as she was also leaving at the same time to go back to Ireland. I agreed.

Then she pleaded with me again. "Why can't YOU take me to the airport and let your sister pick up your parents?" - a question she had asked me before. I wasn't in the mood for negotiation. "Ermm... my car is bigger than my sister's car and my parents have a lot of luggage". "So why can't your sister take your car and you take hers?". "Cos I'm not insured to drive her car". Luckily, that was true so I didn't have to lie. Sure, it's true that my car was bigger than my big sis' car, but you could have easily fit my parents and their luggage plus driver in either car. But she didn't need to know that, did she?

The next morning, I came back to my parents' house to say goodbye to Khadijah. As I walked upstairs, and past her room to go to the toilet, I heard her door open and her footsteps going downstairs. Strange, I thought, coming from a girl who didn't want to leave her room without me knocking on the door and asking for her first. I went downstairs and she was waiting for me in the hallway. I'm not really a fan of long goodbyes. So I said "Ok, cool, have a safe flight. Jazakillahu khair for flying down and meeting me here. I've gotta run now, cos I'm already late. I don't wanna keep my parents waiting".

She said "Ok, have a safe journey, inshaAllah." I stepped out and as I was closing the door, she called my name. I opened the door again and looked at her. She said "I love you".

You what???

I was dumbstruck. I had been confused about her actions/answers/comments/attitudes before, but this takes the bloody cake! A million and one thoughts shot through my head at the speed of light and after a couple seconds of deliberation (and almost choking), I responded with a quick "OK" and closed the door (after stepping out!). I stood in front of the door for what seemed like an hour while I was in complete shock at what had just happened. My parents' front door has frosted glass. So when I realised that she could still see me through the frosted glass just stood there like a lemon, I quickly composed myself and marched my way to the car. I drove off quickly, after sending a quick text to big sis telling her what just happened and gave her specific instructions to "sort Khadijah out cos she's crazy".

Once my parents were back home, mum asked me where big sis was. She knew that big sis was supposed to be around, but it was unusual for her to be out when our parents came back from holiday. I explained to mum that big sis was taking a friend to the airport. "Whose friend?", asked mum. "My friend", I replied. "Is your friend a boy or a girl?". "Girl, mum". "Ohhh... Geetar Hiro has a girl friend huh?". I could tell mum was happy. Just happy that there was a girl in my life, finally.

Later on, big sis returned from the airport. In front of EVERYONE (including mum and dad), she declares: "Maaaan! Khadijah is WELL IN LOVE WITH YOU!! You've proper pulled man!"

Dad was laying on the floor relaxing while we were all sitting on the floor scattered around the lounge (as we do), so he stuck his head up, looked at me and asked me her name. I replied. Then a flood of questions came from everyone. The only question I struggled to answer was from big sis: "is she a keeper?" I would not be telling the truth if I had said 'yes'. So I gingerly replied with an "I don't know yet".

But deep down, I knew I had already made a decision. The decision was a direct result of her personality which I was able to discover and uncover over that weekend. Khadijah was a demanding girl and she expected me to change. A lot. Yet she was not willing to change anything.

So is change good?

I've concluded that change is not good when it's only one person doing the changing. That's not to say that you should never change. I don't think anyone can say that they are exactly the same as they were a year ago. Why? Because everyone develops. And changes. But when one partner wishes change for the other, without support nor sacrifice, this is when things start to go pear-shaped. Finally, I found out that since everyone changes and develops, then why not change and develop as a couple? Surely that would be more rewarding than just one person developing.

From that conclusion, I decided to dump this girl... but wait til you hear what happens next!


  1. wahha... very nice storyy!!! i wonder hows the girl looks like.. very demanding!!whats your job Man.. sounds interesting

  2. @amira: yeah, soulseek and i have some totally insane stories... insane enough to make everyone else's life seem normal. LOL. that's why the authors have secret identities like superman and batman.

    @anon: i can confirm, the girl was very pretty. if i had ended up with her, then every guy would be jealous. lol. however, i've learnt that looks don't get you far in a relationship. personalities can gel together to become the support for each other. but if looks is your main criteria, then you might end up with the worst personality as your partner. then you'll be kicking yourself.
    as for my job, that's undercover. lol. cos this blog is supposed to concentrate on the marriage aspects of my life. i only write small bits about my job so that i can put everything into perspective for you guys. however, i will reveal that i work in the fashion industry - you won't believe how much i get the mick taken out of me by soulseek for working in that industry. yet he still comes to me for fashion advice! hehehe!

  3. Thats the best and true story i've ever really put all my attention to
    it really sucked me into it....How long till the next eposide lol

  4. hahaha hey NEXT!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Lol nice story man... I totally agree with your conclusion.
    I was in a similar situation but it was me doing the sacrifing and he just sort of kept demanding, but there's a limit on how much one can sacrifice for a relationship, if the other doesn't put their share in then clearly something is not right, and the future relationship would not be right.

    This post made me laugh, the way she wouldn't sit with your sisters. I'de love that, much easier than sitting with the mother lol.

    And the sports? How can she not like sports?

    Anyways... the way she was acting was rather strange but there could be alot of reasons for that, although she came out with a nice surprise at the end eh lol but it was rather rude to just say 'OK' and leave the house!! lool poor girl.

    Thanx for sharing :)

  6. Wow I tried to post a comment and then lost it. Basically I wanted to say thumbs up for interesting story…it was better than watching TV honestly. I felt like I could picture everything happening and laughed several times ahaha!
    Ok I have to say this, it seems poor sister was very very very nervous and anxious. Some girls have a tendency to react to awkward situations (with guys) by being negative (cant go there, cant do that, cant eat that). Being negative is their way of revealing their personality. Like she was in the moment and the only thing that comfortably stayed in her mind was stating “will nots.” Also she seems really naive and probably didn’t have much experience (or learned from it) when talking to men. That is why she was so melodramatic. She wanted to be worried over, chased after, sought after....that stuff=drama. I think when she went home when the pressure wears off she might notice her silliness. Was it really her inability to change that is the big no no or how about the melodrama ahah. Great story!

  7. Thanks for the comments and feedback guys! Much appreciated!

    Guys, I can't wait to finish off writing this story! There is so much to tell and to learn from this.

    Although that episode led me to a lot of confusion, aggravation, disappointment and anger, I have to admit that I am seriously GLAD that I experienced it. Getting through difficult situations makes you stronger (mentally).

    Not only that, but since I was on the receiving end of the demanding abuse, I am now prone to asking people if I am asking too much from them.

    @effervescent - if you met my mother and my sisters, you would much rather sit with my mother, I'm sure! all my friends wives/sisters say that! (i'm not trying to say that my sisters are nasty or anything - just trying to say that my mother is such a nice lady, and so easy to get on with, mashaAllah!)

    aye, it WAS rude to just say "ok" and leave... but i felt that it was necessary, considering that we had only known each other a couple weeks and the fact that I was late picking my parents up from the airport, so I could not delay any longer by lecturing her on how mad it is to say "i love you" to someone you have just met.

    @ jelass: oh my gosh! you just made me think of another girl who liked me, but she showed her affection by being really negative; picking on me, making me look stupid and refusing to do things I asked her to do. I actually thought she hated me for no apparent reason. About a year later, a mutual friend told me she kept asking about me and wanted to get to know me better!

    Why did Allah create girls to be WEIRD??? hahahah

    You are absolutely correct - she has had no experience talking with men and I also found her to be quite naive about a lot of things. And melodrama - that's something i can live without in my spouse. why? cos there's only enough space for one drama queen in my relationship; AND THAT'S ME!! lol!

  8. oh gosh! nuff said hahahahah

  9. Interesting stuff.

    Im confused about something: when u say jilbab, what do u mean? As in, is it the one that looks like an abaya or the one that goes from the head to toe? (burka-type?.you know the ones we see in UK too)

    Oh, and feel a bit bad for the girl..but how lame can you get with an 'I love you' to somebody you just met in your life? lol Bless her.

    i'd give her some credit for studying medicine though. more power to the women of the world!!!

    (Last bit's a counter-attack at your ''Why did Allah create girls to be WEIRD???''.Think you'd get away with that).

  10. Ahlam, thanks for your comments!

    When I say jilbab, I am talking about the outer garment that women wear in the public arena (ie, when leaving the house). It covers from the shoulders to the feet and is worn together with the hijab which covers the hair, ears and neck.

    aye, i have to give credit where credit is due - and i give a lot of respect to her for studying medicine.

    HAHA! I was waiting for someone to react to that statement! hehe. Ohhh these jovial misdemeanours will get me in trouble with my wife one day! So let me clarify that statement about Allah creating girls to be weird.... ermm... Allah creates men to be weird also! hahaha! :P

    big sis actually recommended me that book entitled "men are from mars and women are from venus". I have yet to grab me a copy, but it sounds like a very interesting book!

  11. ooh yeah, i had to read that book for my A levels english..and I can safely say it has my stamp of approval.

    It really made me understand why men act weird sometimes(read:weird).

    Like when they sit still brooding in a corner.Its because they like to think their problems over and find solutions quietly.

    Whereas women like to talk things out and be listened to when they have problems not be given solutions.Contradiction which leads to tension.

    There are soo many examples like this which are plain F-U-N-N-Y. I cant believe how so much of it is true.

    Your sister is one heck of a resourceful girl.(refer to the statement about women of the world).

  12. Truly a very interesting story. About change, keep one thing in mind next time you are speaking to a prospective for marriage - BOTH of you need to compromise. I agree completely that this girl was asking for much but if it were someone else making similar demands it might be a good idea to try and understand why she is doing so.

    In my case I was speaking to a prospective who at that moment in time couldn't make any compromises or changes because he had to remain in a certain place because of his job. Basically in a nutshell I was being asked to leave my job, my family, my entire support system for him and to move wherever he wanted. I'm not sure he realized how much of a compromise or sacrifice he was asking me to make. He eventually wanted to move closer to his parents, which I completely understood, but I wanted to be somewhat closer to mine as well, to help them out during difficult times. Again, Im not completely sure whether he understood my sentiments.

    Basically what I am trying to say, is that change can be a good thing but make sure both of you are willing to meet each other halfway because marriage after all is full of compromises. You are 'syncing' your life with someone else's and its wrong to expect everything to be your way. Vice versa for the girl. If the girl is making some demands and if her reasons are sincere then don't let her go because of such things, if indeed she is pious. Her piety at the end of the day will strengthen your Iman and ease your journey towards Jannah, inshaAllah.

    In my case, the guy rejected me simply because of my apprehension to move closer to his parents. I agreed to everything else and I might have even agreed to moving near his folks, but I wasn't given enough time and they called it quits. Alhamdulillah, Allah is the best of planners :).

  13. Wow, interesting scenario. I have to say I felt a little bad for her especially when she proclaimed her love for you and your response was "ok". lol. She was in a strange country, living with people she's never met before, I'm sure she was nervous.

    I do find it strange that she wouldn't leave the room but she did say she was shy. Maybe she's not that comfortable around people she doesn't know.

    Regarding wearing a jilbab, maybe in her country it's considered strange to wear a jilbab in the hospital. At first I thought it was because she was moving to UK and she didn't know what it was like but then you mentioned she didn't want to move away from her family. I think you should have had at least a little conversation with her beforehand on such matters. It would have been easier especially since you had to fly her out to meet you, no?

    But that's in the past since you've finally found "the one you were looking for". MashaAllah. :D Thanks for sharing. :)