Monday, April 23, 2012

On weddings et. al.

Every so often I get tired of the strange people I encounter every day.  I mean "strange" with shameless judgment; it is my personal view of others relative to my perception of my own self; it is a subjective sentiment of which I do not care to pursue objectivity. 

And my personal preference is to perceive this prevalent strangeness at or around or in relation to weddings. Because at least there is an atmosphere of joy, and grilled mutton. 

My cousin's wedding yesterday was as expected. Food ran out by 8.30 pm.  The bride's face is plastered in make-up and she is wearing a tall shimmering gold crown that must weigh 3 kg because it took her 10 seconds to rotate her head to smile at me. The photos we took look like we could be anywhere in any of the million wedding venues in the city because they have the same chandeliers and the same carpeting and the same bridal stage and the same catering stalls. 

We stood in the middle of it all wondering if we could ever manage to escape being caught in a similar cycle.  We counted our friends (thousands), and our cliques (hundreds), and people who would not be offended if they weren't invited (very few). We want natural foliage and poolside spots but his mother hates sunlight and my mother is worried about flies in our food. We want secluded locations outside the city but my father is worried guests will find it bothersome. The resistance against anything unfamiliar and different is akin to the resistance against winds of reform in the government offices I frequently deal with. Ask why. Why? Why? And they, them, society, will answer collectively, "this is just the way we do things around here."  

And nobody questions that.  The lack of a desire to be individual is mind-boggling.

A friend the other day complained, to the bazillion members of our blackberry messenger chat-group, that she kept getting into never-ending fights with her fiancée.
This was, literally, everybody’s reaction to this heartfelt confession (LITERALLY):
Beyonce: “Be patient. Don’t forget, getting married is part of our religion. And satan does not like when we become religious, and therefore satan will always try to disturb us from performing it.”
Rihanna: RT “Be patient. Don’t forget, getting married is part of our religion. And satan does not like when we become religious, and therefore satan will always try to disturb us from performing it.”  It's just a test! I'm sure you'll pull through! :-)
Gaga: Agree!! ^_^ RT RT @Beyonce: “Be patient. Don’t forget, getting married is part of our religion. And satan does not like when we become religious, and therefore satan will always try to disturb us from performing it.” 

Britney: "Yes agree! Try talking to him, get him to understand, and don’t forget to pray a lot so that Allah shows the way. Don’t worry, in the end everything will be alright." 

This is madness. Utter madness.  

I would have said, wait. I'm sure God is doing His thing but while we wait for Him to sort you out, how about asking a few questions to yourself. Such as "WHY are you fighting instead of communicating?" "WHY do you want to marry him despite the fact that he drains your energy every day?"  "WHY do you feel that you need to compromise your career to make him happy?"

WHY are you all looking at me like that? What, I sound like a wannabe Freud? I'm too "Americano"? I'm too logical and heartless?  Too posh for the masses?  Too classy to invite everyone?  Fuck you. 

Having unique individual desires is the only thing that makes sense. 

Friday, April 6, 2012


My parents are still discussing how best to say an Easter greeting to my aunt. 

Long ago she married a Catholic and converted. Nobody minded much. Her parents were more concerned that he was of Chinese descent. "Are you sure?" they asked. "You don't want to find a Javanese man instead?" 

She had had the kind of relationship that lasted years. He would get jealous for various reasons throughout the years and she would often sit hunched on the phone with him, crying, silently so that her mother would not notice, but her sister, my mother, always noticed. She could not imagine anyone loving her as much as he did, completely, possessively. In the 70's nobody had yet figured out that possessiveness was a sign of insecurity.

So she converted and over the years his insecurity started leaking out from various parts of him, little by little, like hair that sheds one by one and nobody notices until they see a picture of how the hair used to be. One day his insecurity decided it was comfortable there and enveloped him whole, leaving no cover.  It became his character. He appeared to be a faithless man, or faithful only to the tales he spun to cover his lack of achievement.  My aunt, by contrast, became more faithful.  She went to church, sang praises, sought peace, and new friends. Jesus was her savior. 

My mother went through an entirely different journey and ended up in the same intensity of faithfulness, the kind that is born from a certain desperation.  The only thing that differentiated the sisters were their choice in men, and their choice of religion. They had the same mistaken perception of how different they were from each other. 

My parents are wondering how to say Happy Easter to her in a way which is Islamically correct. The saying goes that if we wish someone a Happy Easter or Merry Christmas, we are somehow acknowledging the raison d'être of their celebration, acknowledging the very fact that Jesus was born and died and resurrected to save humanity and is some kind of God. We could, however, tailor it a certain way so as to merely wish them a happy celebration, or a happy day in which they can conduct their celebrations. 

So far we have journeyed, from the days when my grandparents did not even blink when my aunt chose to convert. These days it is ridiculous.  It is like a different kind of insecurity.