Oh my god I am so pissed at the moment I feel like shouting using my perempuan gila naik baran voice which I have used before in my line of work.
My mom was telling me to hurry and make the booking with the caterer whose food we had just tasted on Sunday (more of that in another post).
My dad was there too when we talked. Just after I explained the items that I vaguely remember the caterer would provide at the price that is within my budget, he said something which is precisely what set me off.
The point of contention:
What he said:
Since we’re talking about the wedding, I would just like to remind you about the bridal henna. It’s fine if you do the usual one but don’t do the intricate drawings on the hands…
My reaction (in my head and heart):
Darah naik tahap maksima kepala angin meresap satu badan. Also known as WTF!?!?! (I swear I have never been so angry on this site.) Or on anything wedding-related.
No, this isn’t because I have been dreaming about putting on bridal henna since I was eleven. (I didn’t.) This isn’t because I feel a Malay bride wouldn’t be complete without bridal henna. This isn’t even about bridal henna in the first place!
This is about stupid kolot mindsets. This is about listening and believing blindly whatever is said by men in beards (and some women in headscarves). This is about patriarchal control. This is about body policing.
So why is he against bridal henna? Because he listens and believes blindly what the above holy and righteous ‘scholars’ say about it: that it is something rooted in Hindu custom and beliefs. (Oh my god, so if I put on bridal henna I’m suddenly going to believe that god comes in numerous forms and my favourite would be the elephant god because elephants are one of my favourite animals? Oh my, book me a space in hell, pronto! You can so see how angry I am when I get damn sarcastic like this.)
No, obviously I won’t! And you know what, I believe my God loves beauty. And beauty is what makes an unhindered, unjudgemental, unpretentious, unindoctrinated-with-religious-dogma heart happy. And bridal henna, at face value (meaning don’t read anything into it! don’t religiously politicise it!) can easily make anyone admire its beauty.
I also believe that my God calls Himself All-Merciful for a reason. Why fret over the small outwardly things? God knows what’s in my heart regardless what goes on outside of it. I also believe my God is not petty. There must be a reason why he’s allowed so many religions to flourish through thousands of years of human history. I choose to believe my God sees beyond small human acts. Like whether you use bridal henna or not on your wedding, or whether or not you use socks to cover your feet when you pray (believe it or not, a quarter or maybe half the Muslim world prays this way and yes their prayers are just as valid!), or even whether or not you wear the hijab at all.
And this is how hijab is linked to bridal henna:
Yes, wearing hijab, or tudung, was never a conscious choice I made as an adult. It was imposed upon me by my parents when I showed the first signs of puberty. However, I didn’t dare to rebel then (and I stupidly believed it was religiously compulsory), so I grew into it and got used to it. My hair’s never been the silky smooth kind; it’s thick and puffy-frizzy so yes, no love lost when I don’t get to show it off to the world. And yes, some fashions just aren’t suitable with hijab, but I get some people (aka impressionable young adults) whom I meet at work calling me cantik or chio bu (that means pretty girl, right?) because of the way I style my hijab-appropriate outfit, so no love lost either.
And yes! Back to the bridal henna now. So, while they have effectively wrapped me up since I was 10 or so, this adulthood incursion into my right to make decisions over my own body is stepping way beyond the line. And no! In no way am I going to be bullied (yes, it’s bullying) into doing, or in this case not doing something with my own body. I’ve stayed the course with hijab (except for my own little private strayings) for the sake of my family name and reputation, and my sacrifice stops there! I am going to have that damn bridal henna done and that’s it!
The funny thing is, when I first started thinking of my wedding, being the trying-hard-to-go-the-unconventional-route BTB, I had decided early on that I would just do the simple henna on the fingers myself. The simple reason is, it would cost next to nothing (it all boils down to the budget) and I didn’t really have any preference about it. Simple is nice, with some designs is also nice (okay, but too intricate til your skin looks like it has scales on it is a turn off). However, along the way, I found a source for getting bridal henna for free (shamelessly declaring to my sister and my 2 closest cousins that in place of my birthday gift this year – it’s a tradition for us to celebrate our four birthdays – I would like wedding sponsorship for bridal henna)!
And now that it has taken on an added symbolism, that is, an act of rebellion (against patriarchy, body policing, narrowmindedness, etc), I AM DEFINITELY GETTING IT DONE. FULL STOP. Booking a henna vendor would be the thing I do right after publishing this post.
My boiling blood has gone down to a small simmer, thanks to this writing therapy, but I’d just like to add this last thing: I am not surprised that my dad felt compelled to make that statement. After all, this is the man who, when I was in ICU with at least 4 or 5 needles and tubes criss crossing my hands and body, was fussing over my uncovered head and made sure that my mom brought an instant tudung the next day to get it covered. Oh yes, my fiancée and other strange, unrelated men who sees me in the ICU with my head uncovered would totally find me attractive and lust after me. (Which is NOT the rationale behind the hijab, by the way, but you get my sarcasm.) Thanks, dad, for caring so much about my place in hellfire that you conveniently forget about the hell that I went through prior to and while being in ICU. I have never understood the term ‘daddy’s girl’ or ‘daddy’s princess’, and never will I envy any girl who identifies themselves as such, because I have never had – not even the faintest – connection with my dad; he has proven, from childhood til now how emotionally detached he can be from his children. And I’m not pining for any. I’m happy as long as he’s alive and relatively healthy. And stays out of my freaking (decisions over) my body.
And that relevation about me being in ICU is a sign that my other blog badly needs updating.