When Ibu R was a young woman, she was in love with a man of whom her parents didn’t approve. Her boyfriend finally decided not to marry her. Broken hearted, she entered into a marriage with a man she didn’t know. Her parents had arranged the marriage. They never grew to love each other.
They had four daughters together, the last Ibu R had when she was 40. Miserable in her marriage, and unhappy to have a baby at such an “old” age, she tried to abort the pregnancy, using traditional medicine she got from a witch doctor. It didn’t work. Her youngest daughter is now 16, and was an English student of mine. My friend told me this story of the attempted abortion, with her daughter sitting right there listening.
Ibu R’s husband has moved to another faraway island, and he rarely visits. Neighborhood gossip says he has another wife and family on that island. My friend never speaks of him, only to say that they aren’t in love. They have a granddaughter, who lives with Ibu R. But her grandfather didn’t even come for the important Muslim event of the circumcision of that granddaughter. (Circumcising girls and boys is a common practice among Muslims here, as one way to fulfill their obligation to God.)
Financially, Ibu R is doing fine. She lives in a decent-sized house. But in so many other ways, she struggles.