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I don't want a wife, I want a house that resembles me

I don't want a wife, I want a house that resembles me

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Opinion Personal Freedoms

Monday 22 May 202305:10 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

لا أريد زوجة، أريد بيتاً يشبهني

Some feelings we don't understand or know the cause of until years later, like that sense of familiarity that used to come over me when I'd watch a movie protagonist living alone in an apartment with good furniture, and he could invite his friends over to visit. As for his girlfriend, she'd sometimes come to scold him for not opening the windows or to remind him of an appointment. That's why I really liked Khaled Abol Naga and Hani Salama; they were the most prominent actors I have seen in such roles.

That inexplicable sense of familiarity became clear when I crossed the age of thirty and realized that, like them, I wanted a house where I could live alone, invite my friends, and have my girl visit me without blaming me for closing the windows because I enjoy the sunlight. However, when I recently decided to live alone, even though I'm a man and there is no one to monitor or worry about my "reputation" as is the case with women, I was surprised to face resistance from my family, which quickly turned into disapproval and resentment for my decision. This was something Khaled Abol Naga and Hani Salama didn't inform me about, and I realized that their appearances in most of their roles without parents or family might have been an indication that things are not as easy as they seem.

When I decided to live alone, even though I'm a man and there's no one to monitor or worry about my "reputation" as is the case with women, I was surprised to face resistance from my family, quickly turning into disapproval and resentment at my decision

Why did my mother refuse to let me move into a house on my own? Simply because I'm unmarried... That's how she responded. If I didn't know her, I would have said she fears my "corruption" that might occur when I become completely free, but she is fully convinced by her justification, which I found echoed by many who were allowed to discuss such matters with me. Their objection was that I was single, and therefore I had no right to live alone. "A house is made for your bride," that's how they summarized their stance.

I found the same sentiments while I was searching for an apartment. Some landlords stipulate that only married couples can rent – even though their reasons to live alone are justified – assuming that a bachelor will certainly turn his house into a "nightclub". Although the search was not long, especially since I chose a relatively expensive place, I realized the struggles that women face, which far outweigh ours, in such a journey, and I even felt bad for them. The important thing is that everyone, regardless of their reasons, agreed that a house is a means to establish a family within its "legitimate" framework, and is not an end in itself. That is why no one understood what I meant when I said I want a house in itself, and nothing more.

Why did my mother refuse that I move into a house alone? Simply because I'm unmarried.. That's how she responded, a sentiment I found echoed by many others who said because I was single, I had no right to live alone, stating: "A house is made for your bride"

Certainly, a significant part of the connection between a home and the partner can be attributed to the religious culture that played a prominent role in shaping that perspective, through some interpretations, such as the interpretation by al-Tabari, who believed that the dwelling mentioned in the Quranic verse, "{He created for you spouses from among yourselves so that you may find comfort in them. And He has placed between you compassion and mercy}" refers to the home where you find tranquility with your spouse.

In addition to the religious culture that applies to all Muslims, Egypt had a more particular character, because until about 10 years ago, the average age of marriage was around the mid-twenties, and the cost of marriage was affordable. Therefore, there was no hesitation for young men and women to assume the responsibility of moving to a house after a few years of marriage. All these factors contributed to them not having to ponder much over the question: Is a home a means or an end? In the absence of the question, the theory became even more entrenched.

However, now, with the average age of marriage reaching 30 years for both males and females, according to 2021 statistics, not to mention the increasing living costs that many cannot afford, and the divorce rate rising by 14% in 2021 compared to previous years, and the desire of some to not even take the step in the first place for various reasons, I say that all these factors have forcibly separated the idea of the home from the partner and paved the way for the house to appear as an end in itself. Especially since our needs evolve based on our personalities, and we need a larger space where we can feel completely free, away from the homes of our families where, no matter how much freedom is granted, it remains regulated. In the end, we cannot fully be what we want to be there.

Oh Nadia, I don't want a wife. I want a house that resembles me, one that I belong to and shape based on my own vision. It'll be filled with books and music, and a large bed I can freely roll on top of, and walls carrying pictures of the ones I love

What I'm saying is based on my own experiences. I don't deny that until a few years ago, I also saw the house merely as a means of living, and I believed in religious interpretations. Independence, in my understanding, meant getting married shortly after completing my education, and I would see those who chose to remain independent without marriage through the same lens that I am currently being seen through. However, as my thoughts changed and I reached my thirties, I came to the realization that not everyone needs to get married. At the same time, I felt that humans need a home for many reasons beyond the presence of a spouse and housing a man and woman together.

So, I say to my mother, whom I usually address by her name: Oh Nadia, I don't want a wife, I want a house that resembles me, one that I belong to and shape based on my own vision. It will be filled with books and music, and a large bed I can freely roll on without having to worry about the space, and walls carrying pictures of my loved ones. I want to be able to leave the bathroom door open while showering, and to sleep naked in the summer without shame. I want to learn how to cook and invite my friends to my home. I want to feel completely free to do what I want, without having to consider the needs and rights of others. And I believe it's unfair to be punished for this right just because.. I don't want to get married.

* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Raseef22

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