A Contract of Pleasure

She let out a long sigh as she applied the pretty pink shade of her lipstick and smoothed it out over lips chapped dry from all the nervousness that she was feeling. Her newly polished nails reflected prettily as slashes of color in the mirror. Once everything was finished, there was nothing else left to do but give herself a once over. Her artistically applied make-up made her look more natural than the face behind the layers of cosmetics. She hoped that he would like the efforts that she had put in. After all, he had paid for it.

In a land where traditions and men ruled every aspect of life, she had been lucky to have found a man who loved her for who she was. She had been his only wife…temporary or permanent. He would often joke that she was already too much for him to handle so he could never even consider taking a second wife. She would laugh away her constant nagging fear and resolve to ensure that their status quo never changed. Alas, he had other plans that didn’t include her. His doctor gave a helpless shrug when she wailed that he had never informed her of his illness. Now, it was too late.

It was too late for him to inform her of the other family he maintained as well- his secret wife and her two children. It was too late for him to make her aware that were anything to happen to him, she would not live as prosperous a life as she was used to. She would have to share her good fortunes with the other woman just like she had shared her husband. The only difference would be that this time she would have to do it knowingly no matter how reluctantly. It was too late for her to start thinking about her own future and her financial stability. Now there was nothing else left for her to do but the thing that she had sworn she would never do.

When she shared her dilemma with her friends, they had come up with the best solution possible for someone in her position. A temporary marriage contract – sigheh. A contract based on pleasure which would also ensure that she would get financial compensation to see her through her days. She would be married again, no matter for how long. She would be respectable again, till she found herself  single and looking for another sigheh. She could live again.

The man she had signed the contract with was a decade her senior. He had generously set a mehr (financial compensation amount) that would help her pay the down payment on her new apartment. He had very little expectations from her except that she keep herself dolled up at all times and be ready to take him to her bed whenever he asked for it. All in all she couldn’t really fault him. He was quite reasonable considering the tales that she had heard from others who had engaged in such sigheh.

Sometimes she wondered whether she had now moved into the role of being a secret wife instead. She never asked him about it though. That was one secret she didn’t wish to know anything about. She could do without all that additional guilt or mixed emotions. She was married, well provided for and had a man to fulfill all her desires. What else could she ask for? She gave a final glance at her reflection before moving out of the bedroom. He would be home soon.


P.S. This is completely a fictional story. I had read about this term “sigheh” or temporary contract of marriage and wondered about its aspects and effects. Since this was based solely on my understanding of the subject, there are liable to be gaps or flaws in it.


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