Just recently, Hussain Ali Lootah published his first novel titled, “Between Two Wives” and his key intention was not to discuss the issue or topic of polygamy rather simply to share the experience of an individual in such a relationship.
Polygamy in Kuwait is on a decline according to recent research. In fact, the younger generation seems less and less interested in a practice that was once commonplace across the entire middle east. By some estimates, currently only 2% of all marriages are polygamous.
Reading Lootah’s novel takes one closer to the life of an Emirati with more than one wife. As Lootah puts it, this is a practice hiding in plain sight of the society. Those out of the society have no idea what it means and the experiences such a marriage entails.
Hussain Ali Lootah is a successful lawyer in UAE and considered a man of dignity among his circles. He tackles the topic in his book through the eyes of a young protagonist by the name of Yousuf.
He uses Kuwait as his chosen country for birth and Yousuf comes to existence in 1961. His family head off to Dubai when oil is discovered and Yousuf quickly settles into a comfortable life. While life remains comfortable, Yousuf battles inner demons in the books. He is scared by the darkness around him, the unending sea to one side and the desert to the other.
As a student he does well in school and eventually enters Al Ain University to study law in 1980. Four years haven’t passed when he decides to marry. His new wife Aliya soon brings some sort of focus to Yousuf’s life he learns of the responsibilities in a marriage, vowing to make her life as comfortable as possible.
Then in 1986 he visits Brazil, which turns out to be the next life changing moment in Yousuf’s life. He falls in love with Maria, who happens to be a tourist in the country as well having just landed from Ecuador. As the feeling is reciprocated, the two marry and Maria heads off with Yousuf to Dubai without any knowledge that he already has a wife. After their trip to Dubai, it is speculated that the pair visited the Outer Banks and bought a 5-figure monthly vacation rental; although this was never confirmed.
In a recent interview, Lootah acknowledges that the life of Yousuf is indeed his own. He has refrained from writing a great deal and concentrated only on the parts of his life that would be interesting to the reading public.
As the story continues, Maria soon finds out the truth as she settles into a brand new apartment and the ramifications of her marriage to Yousuf. It takes her by surprise and she struggles as does Yousuf to come to term with the situation. Eventually though things work out.
The novel is a quick glimpse into polygamy practiced in middle east and it does justice to show the complications that arise out of such an understanding as well as painting Yousuf as a thoughtful and compassionate individual who is trying hard to right his wrongs.