The purr-fect marriage

The purr-fect marriage

THE RELATIONSHIP between animals and their owners is sometimes complex and even perplexing. And so is the relationship between a woman and her husband. Don’t scratch your head in confusion — there’s actually a connection between the two situations.

By Akif Abdulamir (desert Classic)

Published: Sat 20 Oct 2012, 2:51 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 11:53 AM

When my elderly neighbour had to leave her house for a day, she asked me and my wife to look after her sick husband and her pets. She gave us a list of instructions specifying exactly what we should do. It included the exact time when her cats should be fed and when her husband should be reminded to take his medication. She also jotted down when her partner should take his nap and strictly forbade us not to disturb him during his sleep.

A couple of hours after she had left, I went to her house to give her husband company. The man had had a bad heart since he was in his 30s and it had progressively got worse ever since.

His face lit up when he saw me. He switched off his computer and asked if he could get me something to drink. I hesitated to bother him, but he quickly read my mind and said,” I think I can manage the trouble of making a cup of coffee.”

He looked fragile, pale and had trouble moving around. Yet the elderly man was determined to be a good host. Five minutes later, he came back with a mug of coffee, but his hand was surprisingly steady when he handed me the steaming drink.

“I have already given the stupid cats their meals,” he told me after he settled himself in his sofa, and then added,” I also don’t need a nap, so you can stay and chat with me.”

When I was about to open my mouth to say something, he chuckled and quickly said,” I know what the note said and don’t worry about it.”

Without any bitterness in his voice, he confessed that his wife treated him as just another pet in the house. His illness, he explained, gave her a potent excuse to take complete control of his life. This scenario suited her and certainly suited him and the cats. But he was certainly not an invalid and his wife knew it, but both of them were might fine with their arrangement. Before nightfall, he had abided by all the instructions in the list that his wife had left for me. But of course, he did not want his wife to know about his self-sufficiency.

The experience was a revelation to me, especially after I met another woman who was similar to the man’s wife. But her relationship with her husband and their Siamese cat was not the same as my neighbour’s. Her husband was stubborn, unbending and difficult at times.

“Pets are grateful, they don’t answer you back and make fewer demands,” she grumbled, adding that they are “more satisfying than husbands.”

I had a feeling that if she had to choose between her cat and him, then she would surely opt for her feline companion. I guess for some women, a man is another creature to tame and control. However, when men are not easily subdued, their wives keep cats to divert their attention from their unruly partners. In my opinion, if there’s a cat in the house, a man will have to compete for his wife’s attention. And I can now understand why some men keep dogs. It balances out the situation at home when the cat gets too close to the wife!

Akif Abdulamir is an Oman-based writer

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