MINA: SIRAJ WAHAB
Published — Sunday 5 October 2014
Some stories are too strange to be believed. One such is that of a 46-year-old pilgrim from Aurangabad in India’s Maharashtra state. It is a story of sacrifice and love for another human being.
Yusuf Khan was married to Parveen Jahan 24 years ago. The wedding was a grand affair. Since Khan was the only son of his parents, they were extremely delighted at his marriage. The reason for their excitement was the expectation that the marriage would result in children which would then fill their life with joy.
A year passed, and then one more. The wait became unbearable and eight years passed. Khan’s father waited and waited to see his grandchildren but to no avail. And one day he passed away.
Khan and Jahan became desolate and approached doctors and underwent fertility treatment but nothing happened. In between, Khan’s mother had a paralytic attack that immobilized her left side.
Jahan, a teacher by profession, took immense care of her mother-in-law who now became completely dependent on her. Khan and his wife became more desperate to have a baby to bring cheer to their ailing mother.
One day, after mustering a lot of courage Jahan suggested that Khan go in for a second marriage. “Your mother wants to see your children and we have tried everything,” said Jahan to Khan. “The only option left is for you is to take a second wife and hope for the best,” she said.
Khan’s instant reaction was a resounding no. “Who knows? The problem may be with me. Why should I marry another woman? You remain very dear to me and you have taken so much care of my mother, I cannot do this,” he told her. Both cried that night.
The next day, Jahan said that he should marry and that if Allah blessed the new couple then the first child would be hers. To Khan, this seemed a good proposal. It would bring cheer to his issueless first wife and his endlessly waiting and paralyzed mother.
The proposal seemed good but was it workable? And would they find a girl who would agree to give away her first child to her husband’s first wife? That seemed difficult.
Jahan herself started looking out for a second wife for her husband. Her search ended in Rehana Begum, a young woman whose husband had died only a year into their marriage.
A proposal was sent to Begum’s relatives and they were told of the circumstances which pushed Khan into a second marriage.
Begum’s parents, who come from a good family from the neighboring town of Jalna, were reluctant to accept Khan’s and Jahan’s proposal for their widowed daughter, but finally, they accepted. Begum too agreed after she was persuaded by her parents. She agreed but never thought that things would happen that way.
“I too yearned for children and how could have I agreed to a proposal that would be tantamount to snatching my child as soon as he/she was born,” she said to Arab News here in Mina while narrating the details.
The marriage took place and Jahan, the first wife, took an important part in the ceremony much to the wonderment in a society that could not imagine that a first wife would help her husband marry a second one. Within a year of their marriage, Begum and Khan were blessed with a healthy baby boy. And as per the unwritten agreement, the boy was given to Jahan.
“It was both a day of celebration and stress for me,” said Khan. “My son, Aamir, was placed in my mother’s lap and she was absolutely thrilled. She kissed him and hugged him, and kept looking at me with a broad smile. She was very happy.”
Khan said after his mother, Jahan, his first wife was extremely delighted. “But Begum, the second wife, was happy at being blessed with son but upset that he had to be given to the first wife,” said Khan.
Those were difficult days for Khan. “I told Begum about the agreement and went away. I couldn’t wait to see the handing over ceremony,” he recalled. Begum parted with her son with extreme reluctance and wept continuously. “Those were our difficult moments,” said Khan.
A year after Aamir’s birth, Begum and Khan had another child. This time a baby girl. They named her Sana. Begum was upset that the second was not a boy. “It hurt me that I had to give away a baby boy and I was left with a girl,” she said.
In the next five years they were blessed with two more children, a son, Asim, and daughter, Ayesha. Begum soon realized that her first son, who was now being reared by the first wife, was all alone so she voluntarily gave away her last child, a daughter, Ayesha, to the first wife.
Begum’s two children know the facts but they remain attached to Jahan. “She takes good care of them and has in fact taken better care of them than their biological mother would have ever taken,” said Khan.
They are now one big happy family. Begum is attached to Jahan because she is taking care of her two children and Khan is happy that they have become one big happy family. “Everyone is attached to the other for obvious reasons,” said Khan. “I am very attached to my first wife because she demonstrated sacrifice and allowed me to marry the second time,” he said. “I am very attached to my second wife because she sacrificed and gave away her first and last children.”
The children are happy because they know the truth. “I am here at Haj with my two wives to thank Allah for the incredible happiness that he has bestowed on me,” said Khan. “I can never forget the smile on my late mother’s face when she saw my first-born for the first time.”