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Saturday, March 7, 2009

divorced women's society

Dancing one's tears out...
The music is loud. There are about ten women in the dimly lit room, dancing hysterically in a way to make the darkness of the night come alive. Blinding themselves from the busy world outside the room, once in Salmiya and another time in Mahboula, the young mothers shed their sweat and tears together until they are reunited the following Thursday.

The mothers in their 30s are mostly Americans, now divorced or on the brink of separation. These are the women who came to Kuwait some years ago with their husbands and bore their children before eventually deciding to go on their own. Some say they are victims of male chauvinism, others had miscalculated expectations and some are now proponents of individualism. Their group is on the rise in Kuwait, not as a leftover of the war between tradition and modernity, but more as the aftermath of an idea that pro
claims each person for herself. The women are economically independent, something that helps them live their lives in their own way. Is it a bad idea for such lonely ex-wives to gather together once in a while?

Sarah McDonald is the coordinator of a rare group of separated wives who meet on a regular basis. It was a daring step on her part. She met her would-be family man in the US ten years ago when she was in college. Coming from a broken family, she craved a life outside the US. Landing up in Kuwait opened a new chapter in her life because for the first time, she was working and earning money aside from enjoying the pleasures of being a wife, mother and daughter-in-law. Her cheers were turned to tears when her
husband asked her to quit her job for the sake of their children, something indigestible for an educated, ambitious woman like her. Soon came the end of their relationship and Sarah went on with her life as a single expatriate. After she met women who had similar stories, she decided to form an informal gathering of 'birds of the same feather.'

It was a Thursday evening," Sarah recalled. "and there were only three of us in my Salmiya flat in the beginning. We just talked and shared some food. The next time, two more people came along after hearing about our gathering from their friends. After a while, one of us suggested: Why don't we dance? As time went on, we had more members, more food, more time and so it went." Sarah acknowledges that their time is never spent accusing their husbands or their families. Instead, they share the little joys fr
om their work places, shopping, cooking and other activities. According to Sarah, some of the divorcees still contact their school age children, occasionally meeting them and giving them pocket money. "Although we intend to not bring up family issues, children come up nonetheless.

Rosanna, another divorcee and a member of Sarah's group, sees such a gathering of likeminded people of the same background as relieving and rejuvenating. "For me," she confessed, "dancing is redemptive. It is the only moment I am totally with myself and I forget the unforgettable memories of my life. I have a sound proof room and we dance all night long and sleep all day the next morning, giving us enough charge for the week." Rosanna heard about the group through her colleague, who was one of the early me
mbers who left without a trace. "There are people who have come and left us, saying they had enough noise in their life," she said.

Whether noise is their choice or not, these ladies have come out of their otherwise shattered lives and into a sense of belonging. They are proving that if life has a Good Friday, it has a day of resurrection as well.

Note: Names have been changed for privacy reasons.

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