Ipoh, Peyton Place And The Four Wives Club

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Thinking Aloud

MARIAM MOKHTAR

Ipoh, Peyton Place And The Four Wives Club

Ipoh has been called Bougainvillea City, Hill City, City of Millionaires but few know it as Peyton Place.

 “Moreover”, declared a former resident, “in the swinging sixties and seventies, Ipoh was synonymous with wife swapping”.

 And the inglorious place for such wheeling and dealing was a prominent club near the Padang.

 Recently, I read about the Polygamy Club. Men were encouraged to marry single mothers or widows. To control prostitution and adultery, reduce divorce rates and assist single mothers.

One-Sided Wife Swapping

To me, that is an official legitimisation of wife-swapping. A one-sided version.

Is this a solution to prostitution? Money is not exchanged for sex, but assumes the usual accoutrements of marriage. Some men don’t, or can’t, even provide these basics.

And the sleeping arrangements? Massage parlours offer preferential rates for multiple hostesses, but this club surpasses even the best supermarket deals – ‘Buy One, Free Three’.

Humans are creatures of habit and the blushing bride would, in a few years be replaced by another, fresher-faced ‘younger’ version. Nevertheless, hubby is aware that when he is decrepit, ‘number one’ wife will dutifully deal with his double incontinence, unlike his younger wives, who might treat him with derision.

Different Hats

Sensible men avoid polygamy. And practise doesn’t make perfect. Some men barely cope with one woman, but four? His worst nightmare must be having four mothers-in-law.

But there is one consolation. If being nagged is like living close to the airport, where you soon get used to the noise, thus, the barrage of three extra women will make little difference.

Why get stressed? I’m aware of my own temperament and know that I’d go mad, if I had to deal with four, like me. Poor hubby might wish he was a monk.

Just like selecting curtains for various rooms, a man could choose wives, with differing qualities. But he’d have a job putting on his different hats to deal with their personalities. He’d be negotiator, psychoanalyst and councillor. He heaps attention on one; the other cries neglect. It’ll be like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – no resolution.

Children grow-up and eventually leave home. Polygamous husbands don’t have that luxury. They have to confront teething babies, toddlers with tantrums and taciturn angst ridden-teenagers, at the same point in time. And probably wished he’d been vasectomised.

Clever men will source financially independent wives, then, simply satisfy her emotional and sexual needs. But, he’d need the patience of a saint and the Herculean strength to deal fairly with the resentment, bitterness, jealousy, frustration, insecurities and demands. He’d be wise to disappear when they have PMT.

4 Husbands?

Much as I believe in equality, it is fortunate Muslim women are spared, four husbands. 

Had it been permissible, I would have chosen wisely. A husband who likes tinkering with cars (massive savings in mechanic’s fees); a capable Do-It-Yourself man (no more expensive plumber or electrician, who fail to turn up as promised); one with green-fingers (solves the gardener shortage); lastly, an intellectual (for the occasional brain-exercise).

 However, when men fall ill, they are at death’s door. Men never have a cold. They have ‘man-flu’. What if four of them were ill simultaneously?

On a normal day, there’d be four pairs of dirty socks to pick up, four lots of soiled clothing and ironing, four sessions of ‘rest-and-recreation’, and the endless fights over the television remote ……It would be too bothersome!

One husband is already hard work. One, is more than enough.

MARIAM MOKHTAR