The following is excerpted from Hussain Ali Lootah's novel, Between Two Wives, a semi-autobiographical account that explores the protagonist Yusuf’s turbulent inner struggles as he straddles two lives and families. It is a reflective and revealing narrative that offers a rare and fascinating insight into the often-misunderstood notion of polygamy. Hussain Ali Lootah is a highly reputed Emirati lawyer who obtained his bachelor’s degree in law from the United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain. He worked as a legal consultant with the UAE government for twelve years, before establishing Hussain Lootah and Associates in 1997, which has become one of the leading law firms in the country.


The Crippling Fear

Despite all the comfort that marked Yusuf’s life after moving to Dubai, his anxious nature started to take a toll on his skinny figure and kept him from enjoying life. He was worried, afraid and insecure most of the time.

He feared the sea, the desert and the darkness.

He feared taking risks.

He feared conversing with others.

He feared disobedience and making mistakes, no matter how impulsive and unintentional they were.

He feared liking and disliking, being satisfied and dissatisfied, agreeing and disagreeing.

He kept all that to himself. Unlike everyone else, he did not have the courage to show his feelings. He was not sure of others’ reactions, neither of his ability to face them. His fears fuelled his pent-up emotions. They grew like a hot-air balloon: giant and scary on the outside, yet so void on the inside that one tiny needle was enough to wipe it off the face of the Earth. He gagged his feelings and views. He dreaded the nightmares that often jolted him out of his sleep, scared and screaming.

His parents had to turn to one of the family members for faith healing, who recited verses from the Holy Qur’an at Yusuf in an attempt to bring back the lost tranquillity to his soul.

Years later, Yusuf tried in vain to find the root cause of this behaviour in his childhood, teenage or early youth. Was it the fact that his parents and relatives were overprotective and paranoid over his safety? Or was it the way he was brought up?

Or was it simply him, behind it all?


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Between Two Wives is priced at AED 125, and is available in English and Arabic.