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in which we are living in different universes, side by side

Today before my colleague left for the day, I wished him luck on his 5th exam for the week. He’s had one each evening after he gets off work, and I know that because he’s so busy at the office and preparing for a very-near upcoming wedding, he hasn’t had much time to study.

I asked him how prepared he felt for this one, a business exam, and he said ‘Nothing! I haven’t prepared at all!’

Then he turned his laptop screen around to show me some photos of couches he’d been looking at [while I had thought the poor guy was cramming for the test]. Apparently he’s also tasked with getting some new furniture made for the house he’ll share with his bride-to-be.

It wont be his decision though. ‘We have a saying in Afghanistan: [unintelligible phrase in Dari]’ he tells me, which roughly translated into something about the wife being the main decision-maker, and that whatever she says, goes.

‘If she decides something, the man cannot challenge!’ he explains, laughing and pointing at the couches.

I just sort of stared and chuckled. Not worth the battle.

2 thoughts on “in which we are living in different universes, side by side

  1. Which part offends or surprises, that his statement seems so opposite from reality in Afghanistan for women or that he suggested partners can not challenge each other in such a relationship?

    I’m curious because, while not everything is worth a battle, some statements clarification. At my office I am surrounded by colleagues of different origins and cultural backgrounds, who often say things that take me off guard.

    ‘Oh, really?’ I ask, “Explain to me why”. :P

    1. It didn’t actually offend or surprise me. It was more about standing on the precipice of a dialogue I didn’t have the energy for at that particular moment :) Battle wasn’t the right choice of words.

      The guy definitely does a lot to improve the image of men here [and elsewhere], but the fact that he’s the one in our department who collects and analyses data about how hard we work to mainstream gender issues into our programs and subsequently sees how slow the process is [and how often conservative traditions prevent us from carrying out programs for women altogether] left me snagged on the juxtaposition of his comment with the harsh reality that exists here for so many women and girls. It was an urge to launch into a ‘yeah, but…’ conversation that I’m sure would have been positively explored, however he was late to get to an exam and I chose to let that space for dialogue rest until a better time.

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