Written by: Fatima Asmal


At the end of the day, we are all but human.
I was always obsessed with the idea of marriage. Before my first marriage, I wanted to marry and I did.


For six years after that ended, I was even more obsessed with the idea of getting married.  So much so, that I married a man who had already proven himself to be extremely abusive during our engagement period. Verily with every difficulty comes ease, and from that miserable situation my son, Amr, my greatest blessing was born.


The obsession started to wane thereafter but didn’t completely leave me, and a few years after that I married yet again…
Again, not the wisest of choices of a partner, and when I was asked to make a choice between that unstable marriage and my son, I chose Amr.


I never looked back thereafter. The desire for male companionship which had always prevailed within me died, and I focused all my energies on my son, parents, close friends, and my two careers – one in journalism and the other in running a charity I founded called “ILM-SA.”


But like I said, we are all human.  And every now and then – ever so seldom- I do reflect about the way my life has turned out – living at my parents’ home with them and my son.


Once, a couple of years ago, I had to have my mum admitted into the hospital. This entailed taking her from our family doctor to her specialist and then sitting for hours in a waiting room trying to arrange for her medical aid and admission.  My son was a lot younger and anxious. I had to ask my best friend to babysit him. Rush home, pack my mummy’s bag, rush back. I had to somehow work him into the equation because he didn’t want to be away from me.


Then there was the time Amr was severely dehydrated. Again, a friend was asked to take me to a doctor.  Another friend was summoned to take us to the hospital.  She – may Allah Reward her – swiped her credit card at admission (yes his father reimbursed her later on but that was not an overnight process or one free of interrogation). I remained at his side at the hospital, talking him through procedures. Packing us clothes and essentials was the responsibility of my mum, may Allah bless her.


Recently, after a wedding, we were at my aunt’s house, when my mother starting throwing up and feeling extremely dizzy. By the time everyone had left, she was unable to stand up unassisted due to her blood pressure and sugar levels being abnormally high. At close to midnight or perhaps thereafter, I called my cousin who is our family doctor and she got out bed, accompanied by her son, to check on mum.


Mum had to stay at my aunty’s house that night, and so there for the umpteenth time in my life you had me, a single woman (and not the best of drivers) driving along on not the safest routes to get home. There were rocks on some parts of the road, puddles and potholes elsewhere. And since I am but human, I wondered, “How different would my life me if I was married to a decent human being?”



My little man seated next to me brought me out of that thinking. He told me when to drive slowly and how to avoid dodgy parts of the road. At home, he locked the gates and turned off all the lights. He told me he loved me. He cuddled me till he fell into a deep sleep.


Few people in my close family have ever deemed it appropriate to introduce me to anyone. I was always labeled ‘lazy’ (because I’m not a chef) and ‘big mouth’ (because I speak my mind).


At the wedding I mentioned earlier, a female family member suggested she introduce me to someone who was also attending. I declined because it is not the right time for Amr and I currently, but I was touched.


“What do these incidents have to do with anything?” you may be asking.


Well, I feel that there are very few non-judgmental people in our community, people who recognize that it is possible for a woman not to be entirely responsible for her three failed marriages. People who recognize that a lack of love for the kitchen doesn’t equate to a lack of love in a woman’s heart. People who equate straight-forward-ness with sincerity and not having a big mouth.


As Amr grows older and these incidents like mum and him getting ill occur, I do concede that some day I may elect to marry again and perhaps when that day arrives Allah will send forth a non-judgmental individual, open-hearted enough to introduce me to a mature, open-hearted, generous man for whom marriage is much, much more than sexual gratification.


For now, I must say I would not have come this far in one piece without a close-friend who has really over-extended herself in our regard, without my mum, without my dad, without my Amr, without Allah, and without the Good Samaritan matchmakers who remind me that I am still human.



Fatima Asmal is a freelance journalist based in South Africa, where she runs a charity called ILM-SA. She holds a masters degree in history. Fatima is a single mum to a cricket fanatic. They live with her parents in sunny Durban. She is passionate about understanding and memorizing the Quran, and inspiring women to overcome the challenges they face. 



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