Stand­ing proud

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - WOMAN -

AZNIE RAHIM is 38, a civil ser­vant with a frank, open smile. She has been di­vorced for six years, a fact she has no qualms dis­clos­ing.

“The di­vorce was swift be­cause he wasn’t able to pro­vide,” she says, gaze di­rect. “He didn’t want to; he couldn’t. I couldn’t get him to pro­vide child sup­port in Shariah court.”

She shrugs, un­sur­prised. Her two sons, nine and 11, are at school. Dim sun­light fil­ters in through the win­dows. On the coffee ta­ble, there is a neat stack of clothes, newly folded. In the kitchen, a blue polka- dot apron hangs from a hook. Tacked to the fridge is a photo of her son in a pi­lot cos­tume, sur­rounded by a cal­en­dar, some colorful mag­nets, and a child’s draw­ing of a beach with a half- smil­ing sun.

“I cook ev­ery day,” Aznie says. “The most cost- ef­fec­tive way to man­age a house­hold is to do ev­ery­thing your­self. Is it hard? Sure, but I go on­line and find recipes that I can make in half an hour.”

She man­ages child­care on her own, ex­cept for the week­ends when her mother takes ov ver to spend time with them. He er ex- hus­band sees their son ns when he has the time.

“My mother is a di­vorce ee, so I knew what to do. It was d de­press­ing for the first two years, , be­ing on my own.”

She han­dles the stigma of sin­gle moth­er­hood in her usual, up­front way. She doesn’t shy away from peo­ple’s judg­ments, doesn't make ex­cuses for their lack of em­pa­thy.

“We don’t care whether a woman is able to eat or feed her­self,” she says. “We care more about whether she’s stick­ing to the moral code. The ladies around here are wor­ried that sin­gle moth­ers will steal their hus­bands.

“Even my brother doesn’t ap­prove of me. He thinks I should con­form like a nor­mal Malay woman.”

There was an al­ter­ca­tion, and the po­lice were sum­moned. But she doesn’t bear grudges, and she doesn’t walk around with an in­vis­i­ble scar­let let­ter pinned to her chest. She car­ries her­self proudly, like a woman in love with life.

“I’ve de­cided that I want to go to Aus­tralia to fur­ther my stud­ies and get a Masters.” It’s a plan she made for her­self and has saved up for. It’s a goal to work to­wards, for her­self and for her sons.

“The in­vest­ment is for you,” she ex­plains. “Your ca­reer and the in­come it gen­er­ates is for your chil­dren. And your chil­dren will see you as a happy, ful­filled per­son.”

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