Awas! Pengantin (buat) perangai!

Note: I began typing this post on 6 December last year and it’s been sitting in my drafts and I’m digging it up now to be published because there’s a new post related to it that I’d like to write so enjoy the looooooong read! (It’s quite amusing for me to read it now for some reason, because after having given in on a thing or two that I felt strongly about, I’m in a ‘apa nak jadi, jadilah, asalkan aku kahwin‘ – whatever happens, happens, as long as I get married – state so it’s amusing how emotional I was at that time, close to 6 months ago)

Haha ok that title up there, is like my pandai-pandai translation of ‘bridezilla alert’!

So let’s just say I am already displaying such tendencies, as my mister can attest to, looking at the nature of the Whatsapp messages I have been sending him. I think for the past two or three days, he has used the word ‘relax’ like over a hundred times. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, maybe close to 10 times? And that’s partially because I was releasing previously pent-up frustration over Incident No. 1, as I could not release it right when it happened, since the mister was in the midst of studying for his examination and of course I didn’t want to take his time and attention away because of some silly thing somebody said.

And then, Incident No. 2 happened yesterday (Edit: 5 December 2012) involving that same somebody, so I was frustrated all over again, and since his examination was over by then, I unleashed a 45-minute tirade over Whatsapp, explaining to him all that had happened. (Ok, he claims it was 45 minutes; I didn’t keep track.)

So, disclaimer! This is going to be an angsty and possibly nasty and filled-to-the-brim-with-negativity type of post, so all you positive freaks out there (I honestly don’t know how people can remain positive, especially living in this country), if you are the sort who’s always grateful and goes ‘Alhamdulillah’ 24/7, it’s best you stop reading this post right now. I’m not about to be diplomatic; it’s tiring to do that when all you want is for YOUR preferences for YOUR OWN wedding to be heard and respected and taken into account by those close to you WITHOUT ANY SNIDE REMARKS.

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What Makes A ‘Good’ Wife – Objection #2

The following objection is with regards to domestic responsibilities, and by extension what constitutes a good home. Let’s ‘revise’ the marital advice given to Muslim wives by the speaker:

2. Rumah mesti dihias, jangan kotor macam rumah Yahudi

(Your house must be looked after and decorated, not left dirty like the house of this group of people which I shall not translate because demonising any group is just offensive)

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What Makes A ‘Good’ Wife – Objection #1

Thinking about how I would write this post, I envisioned starting with ‘I respectfully object, Your Honour’, with ‘Your Honour’ being the very honourable and knowledgeable people behind such messages. But when I finally started typing, I suddenly find myself at a loss as to how I should start this post, and I actually typed and deleted, typed and deleted a few times!  Would this be a writer’s version of stage fright? Perhaps the enormity of the task is making me have cold feet fingers?

Whatever it is, I pray God help me remain calm so that I can put forward the reasons behind my objections with minimal sarcasm and a neutral tone, no matter how riled up or exasperated I feel about such messages. I am aware I can be very expressive when it comes to things I feel strongly about, which the mister has reminded me about several times. He thinks a highly sarcastic or aggressive tone, which I can be prone to, could turn readers off and prevent them from being receptive to what I am trying to convey. To be honest, his well-meaning but unsolicited advice irritates me as I believe it is perfectly reasonable for me – and every other woman – to be angry, but fine, this time round I shall approach it differently and  (attempt to) control my emotions.

Alright, *takes deep breath*, here goes:

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What Makes A ‘Good’ Wife

I was unfortunately up early this morning, ironing like on any other work day, because I had the unfortunate opportunity of being psychologically arm-wrestled into going for some seminar at a mosque (and one wonders why I can’t wait to get married and move out so I could finally pursue my spiritual connection with God at my own pace and out of my own will, rather than feeling obliged to give in to the mother’s persuasion). I’m supposed to get a break from the job I am beginning to hate, and I was planning on catching up on sleep and work (what’s new?), hence the resentment.

To top this unfortunate day off, while ironing at the enclave in my living room, I had the unfortunate opportunity of listening in on the Malaysian religious show that my father was watching. (Yes, they are that ‘fanatic’. If I was a retiree I’d spend mornings taking a walk and enjoying some fresh air rather than cooped up at home watching some religious show. I’d rather enjoy God’s creation and reflect independently on life than listen to others dictate how I should live mine.)

Now why was this an unfortunate opportunity? Because the topic was one that never fails to rile me up: how Muslim wives should behave. By a lady speaker, nonetheless, which riles me up even more because she can’t seem to see what is wrong with perpetrating such views that frame a woman’s worth in terms of her use(fulness) to her husband instead of her own independent being.

For a start, let me list down what she said in her own words, as much as I can remember:

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I don’t like the word ‘izin’

Note: I am on medical leave today because I’m sick and tired and I had a long week without much rest over the weekend because I had a 2-day marriage-related course to attend. Seriously, the government should cover all bases if they really want people to get married and start families. Since it’s compulsory for couples to go for marriage preparatory course before they get married, the government should grant them pre-marriage leave to go for it, instead of them having to sacrifice their weekend / off day to attend. This would also prove that the government genuinely wants to help increase citizen population.

That being said, here’s the post I started writing yesterday and finished today while I waited for the medication to take effect and bring me to lala land.

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Equal Partnership

I was browsing through the work of a has-been-under-consideration wedding photographer on Facebook, when I saw the typical shot of the Malay bride sitting on the dais while her groom is seated cross-legged on the floor, about to go through the solemnisation rite.

And I suddenly got the chills. Suddenly, a sense of dread came over me. Suddenly, I realised the moment of my upcoming wedding that I would dread the most; being seated in precisely that position, behind my husband-to-be, and having paparazzi family, friends and the hired photographer taking photographs of me seated like that.

No, it’s not because I’m camera-shy (I’m totally far from it). It’s not because I’m afraid of blinding camera lights. It’s not because I fear appearing fat in photographs when taken from so many different angles.

It’s because the whole position smacks of inequality to me.

It’s becase I would rather be seated beside him, rather than behind him, as the proceedings take place.

Because I would be his equal partner in this life journey called marriage rather than him being the shepherd and I’m just the docile sheep. (No matter how the proceeding itself may smack of inequality, at the very least its contents are not photographed for ‘eternal’ memory.)

Because I made my own damn choice to get married, because it takes two damn hands to clap, one of which is mine, MINE, and I am an active party in this whole affair of getting married, so I deserve to be right there beside him as it is not only he who is marrying me; it is also I who is marrying him.

I expect a lot of people to disagree with me on this (but since when did I care about people?). Unfortunately, my old folks would also disagree.

The mister would just say, don’t shake things up, you know I won’t be the wife-beater obey-me husband, right? Since when do you ever listen to me so willingly without giving it a good fight? Since when do you ever listen to me, if at all? (I do dear, sometimes; I just take some time to tame that blind rebel in me. And it takes a smart, confident man like you to give an obstinate woman like me that time and space to come to her own decision which happens to coincide with what you prefer me to do.)

Should I just rebel anyway? Insist that I would like to be seated beside my husband-to-be as the proceedings take place? It is, after all, me myself and I who is getting married. Perhaps I could start dropping hints to the old folks, like what I did with my other ‘crazy’ ideas on how I’d like the wedding done (and have so far been relatively successful at getting my way)? Perhaps I could mention how I’d like to ‘pay tribute’ to my Acehnese (read: Indonesian) roots, confirm with my old folks that those distant relatives got married by sitting side by side and mention I’d like to be just like them?

Perhaps, perhaps…