He liked his drinks old fashioned, his women made of plastic, and straddled the divide between past and present like a well versed time traveller. Outside he was Mr. Ak-med Shaw-cat; CEO of Steel of Deal, a 5-linked chain of stores that specialized in the production of custom wheels. His subordinates viewed him as an easy going guy; the kind who often invited the boys out to have a drink with him at the local strip club on their way home from work. He was a ruthless businessman for whom prospects of profit were best found in the fissures of legal frameworks, and who’d spent the years garnering a reputation for being a wolf; both in the workshop and behind the curtains of Stiletto Dystopia.
At home however, he was Hazoor Ahmed Shawkat; a man of military morals, an inheritor of his ancestral patriarchy, and as he often reminded his family, ‘the sole earner of this household.’ He’d made his house a museum of values and traditions he’d long since deserted but refused to abandon entirely. The walls were lined with paintings of Islamic calligraphy, the floor furnished with Persian carpets, and each table was equipped with ornate tasbeehs that would have collected dust were it not for the diligent cleanliness observed by his wife.
The daughter of his father’s second cousin, she was twelve years his junior and remarkably ordinary. The matter of their marriage had been decided upon while his father was still alive. During a time when Ahmed had yet to find his voice of disagreement, and still feared the liberal wrath of God on those who denied their parents’ desires.
Soraya was first and foremost the mother of his children. Like a gatekeeper in charge of protecting the artifacts of an antiquated building, she served a perfunctory purpose in his life. Dinner should always be ready. The children should never speak back. And conversations that deviated beyond what was necessary to the upkeep of his home, were never to be had.
Once a week he would measure the meter of their car to ensure that her outings remained limited to dropping and collecting their children from school. In the early years it was not uncommon for him to beat her into submission. Then one day, when his eldest son was old enough to voice his curiosity on his treatment of Soraya, Ahmed reached for a coffee table book on Arabian horses. ‘Do you see this?’ He pointed to a painted image of a beduin warrior mounting a stallion in the desert. ‘Notice how the horse is standing still. It’s because the man has trained it to be that way. If he were to let it roam wild, the horse would flee and he would be stranded and left to the mercy of the elements,’ the little boy looked at his younger sisters who stood at a distance, peaking at them from behind the banister, ‘It is very easy to get confused son. People tend to appreciate the horse for it’s strength and power, but forget that without the herder, its glory is rendered useless.’
*Part of the Postmodern Emotion series: A series of passages that pay homage to the curious evolution of contemporary relationships; or arguably, lack thereof. For an easier access to my work while you’re on-the-go, follow @clickstories on instagram.