The Expert

The brother is currently in the country, resting from a knee surgery to replace a torn ligament. Now this injury dates to an incident where he jumped off a relatively high structure whilst in school just to prove that he can. Of course he can. He is still alive. And the rest of us are busy.

Well this brother of mine, currently resting from the surgery, despite being younger than me is already married, his wife expecting a baby, no sooner the wedding. Well maybe due to his marital status, his impending fatherhood or some other similar logic my brain can’t quite fathom, he has been elevated to a status of authority. He is now an expert on women’s affairs. He gets to bitch about my way of life, whether my sister should be allowed to take-part in extra school activities, whether she should be allowed to meet her friends beyond a certain hour, he gets to sit in on important family discussions and his ‘valuable input’ is taken into consideration, which generally borders on the likes of she shouldn’t be doing this, she shouldn’t be doing that. Tosh.

However, we get to contribute to his life too. For instance, he cannot buy a shirt or a shoe by himself. Not even the counsel of his wife suffices. So yesterday, I tagged along with the two of them, along with my other little brother and the aunt to pick shirts and shoes for him. So I and my little brother would walk around picking shirts for him to try on. Then we’d appraise it while he puts them on and then pays for it. Same with the shoes. We were stuck for nearly an hour trying to pick shoes for the poor guy. He put on a pair and turned to his wife, she responded with an “I don’t know”. I’m thinking a simple yes or no would do. Surely, one would have an opinion.

Next we had to pick shoes for her. We covered around four shoe shops all in which she walked around like she was in a trance while we did the picking. “Do you like this?” “this?” “how about this?” I could tell even the aunt who is usually pretty tolerant was pissed. Well weirdly though when it comes to food, she can be specific. She wanted ribbon cake yesterday. The previous shopping expedition she wanted samosas. Yay. She is showing promise yeah?

Couple of days back we had to take them shopping for baby stuff. Cots, cot sheets, blankets etc. We nearly got killed (slight exaggeration maybe) when the brother decided to light some dynamite like object INSIDE THE CAR WITH THE SHUTTERS UP. It lit up emitting a crazy red flame, smell and hissing noise and he tries blowing on it to put out the damn thing. He continued with his frantic blowing until the aunt goes “throw it out of the window!”  I couldn’t help but think, he is going to have a baby….

Anyway at the babyshop when the wife consults him about a particular cot, he shrugs, “I don’t know”. Its almost as if the only thing these two can manage by themselves is to get the baby-making process set and going whilst everything else related and otherwise has to be decided by the rest of the world. And somehow he is more an expert on how we should live our lives than we could possibly ever be.

I worry about their future child, well children because I’m sure an army is to follow. Him with his care-free attitude, and she with women are nothing more than chattel disposition I have a feeling that we will have to play more of a role than a casual bystander in ensuring first the ‘continuity of their lives’ and then everything related. Joy! Oh but while I do it, I sure do have to put a shawl on!

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You can take a horse to water..

I don’t know why I don’t have this crazy obsession to get married. WHY OH WHY! Life would have been so much less complicated for me if I did.

It was only last week that I came upon some news that a GOOD friend of mine who pretty much broke every social convention out there had got engaged to his cousin. This particular news sent shock waves of revulsion throughout my entire body. Haha. For crying out loud he was my back up plan, say by 90 if I wasn’t married, I was going to marry him. Okay jokes apart, that is really gross.

Okay back to my business, things are going from bad to worse for me. Two weeks from now I might have to travel out of town on work, a legal clinic to be precise and I shudder to think of the threats and abuse that is going to roll out of the mother’s tongue when she hears about it. I can’t even. Mind you this is at 26 and being a fully-fledged lawyer.

What kind of abnormal society are we living in, that people who ditch school to get married receive more social acceptance than people who make a name for themselves? Even those who are educated are pretty much educated for the wrong reasons. Boys are educated to find employment, girls are educated as good dowry. Sadly, most girls are just fine with this. They just go with the flow.

When the time comes for marriage things get super crazy. Or so I feel. The sheer indignity of it is beyond anything words can express. The desktop of the mother’s computer has several pictures of me in several angles to be sent along with a little bio to every TD&H even marginally interested. I have been taken to a number of studios to have my pictures taken, it only stopped the last time I bawled my brains out in front of a gob-smacked photographer who was directing me to act all demure. Ew. That was the last professional attempt although several home based, efforts were made by family. I sulk and put up. The indignity of having your details (Picture included) sent across the country AND globe via email to someone’s someone who might have a nephew or friends son somewhere. Having your details advertised in the newspapers quite often and the resultant phone calls that come in seeking further details. Having random relatives talk about you/gaze at you with pity at random gatherings and then try to appease you by saying “time has to come”, “pray to God”, like you are utterly devastated or fucknot.

The later it gets, the more desperate the family becomes. Yesterday I received a call from the mother screaming blue murder at me asking me to take down my whatsapp display picture. For crying out loud the picture was of me, grinning away like an idiot. BLEH.

It has come to a point where I no longer have any control over my life (albeit what I do on the sly) whether it is about cutting my hair, the clothes I wear, the friends I associate, work, what I post on social media, you name it! What people need to realize, in my context, is that you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Heh.

Id understand to a certain degree if all this came from people from my grandparents era, given that they had near perfect marriages, but coming from people who pretty much have sucky marriages is a whole new level of crazy. Anywayyyyyyy. LIFE. I guess this is the price you pay for being the odd one out.

So I have a DEADLINE.

Things are turning beyond bad and it looks like I will have to take extreme measures which can even turn out to be quite dangerous and absolutely ugly.

The mother wants me to get married and in order to get married I have to change everything about myself.

I currently live at my aunts (since October) on the pretext that it is easy to travel to work. But the real reason is that things have turned so absolutely crazy that the mother uses every possible minute to dictate how I should live my life. How I should talk, how I should dress, etc etc. So living at my aunts is quite a relief because I don’t have to deal with it on a daily face to face basis. Just weekends, and the random days she comes over. And of course the constant barrage of texts.

“I hope you have deactivated your facebook, there’s a proposal and I don’t want them to come and say anything about you being on facebook”.

So yeah I gave in, I no longer have facebook.

Somewhere around last month she said that I’m on a deadline, and if by the end of the month I don’t don the hijab I will have to stay at home. What the hell, no way. Good for those who want to, but well its just not for me. Anyway while I was out of town last weekend for work (a fundamental part of my job) she texts me, “going out of control, will have to decide”. Fuck. These texts are real scary my brain actually shuts down and I am unable to concentrate on anything for a good while. Eh. I was supposed to return home on Saturday (by home I mean aunts) but I decided id just stay over at my friends and face the drama on Sunday. Returning on Saturday meant drama on Saturday plus Sunday. So Sunday is just one day less drama. So Sunday eve she starts calling. Well do I have an option? So I go home to face the music. The nagging, the threats, the taunts, the abuse..

I get to aunts. She is there waiting for me. I wash up and then hide in my room until I am summoned. She calls me. Fuck. I’m mortified.

“get ready to come home, go get your bags”, I say no, I have work tomorrow. She goes there is a van (office transport) and that I can go in that. She was making things really ugly and that too in front of my uncle so I said fine call the van and see. She gets in touch with the van however fortunately for me they don’t take the same route.  Plus they reach my work place at eight. Whereas my work place is quite flexy in terms of the time we start so nine is the right time. Yay!

Then she goes, “I gave you time, you better start covering from tomorrow”.  Apparently men want “decent girls”. She also told me something about getting material and sewing me some tops. She even threatened to burn my clothes. Eh.

I say no. What the hell. Then she goes “tell your work place that you won’t be travelling from now onwards”. I said “No, I can’t do that I’m not working for your Company”. To which she goes then you can leave your job and stay at home. Apparently when you are allowed to travel the level of fear in one’s self goes down, which apparently is bad?  Hmm.. She also goes “Just go to work at 8.30 and leave at 4.30!!” Ahuh?

Then things get worse. Because I refused to cover and said that it is not possible for me to not travel from work. She starts blaming my friends. I have apparently been influenced by my friends. Influenced to do what? Sigh. The she gets sort of worse. Goes on about how she can’t wait to get me married and get rid of me. How much of a burden I am and that I have brought nothing but shame and heartache to her. Lord… Then she goes “Are you coming home or am I going to take you by force. I’ll bring everyone and come, its going to be ugly” By then I dunno why I usually manage to keep my cool but I suppose because this went on for nearly one and half hours, or because my uncle was feeling bad for me, he came and patted my head,  I just lost it. I couldn’t stop the tears from falling. So fucking uncool. So embarrassing!! He takes a seat next to me and tells the mother, “Give her one more month. Let her be here.” Then he says that he will place an ad on the matrimonial section in the Newspapers and include the fact that the family is prepared to give property. Oh how wonderful. Now I feel like a cow.

Mother calmed down a bit for this. So now my deadline has been extended by one month during which I will have to find a place and move out. This is not normal in our part of the world and culture. The family will come in hoards and create a scene, drag you back and keep you under lock and key. But really I don’t see an alternative. At times I have thought of conforming, just agree to whatever, but that’s just momentary. I can’t seem to do that. So let’s just hope I don’t get killed now, shall we?  Heh

Round-table Discussion?

Taking yet another crazy turn, the mother’s youngest brother calls the extended family for a round-table discussion of a sort, to ‘discuss’ my ‘matter’, the matter being my pathetic and miserable unmarried state. WHOA!

I was informed of this ever so casually whilst engaging in some office work…trying to summarize points discussed at work regarding the Draft Right to Information Bill!  I froze. My brain froze. My hands felt clammy. The blood rushed to my face. My heart started pounding at a rate. Drama Queen? Over Reacting? Paranoia? To be honest I quite don’t know. But I did feel all of that and more!

Well I suppose if you look at it objectively, there is nothing anyone can do. BUT, for all intents and purposes it is STILL very scary. I was shaking and could no longer concentrate on my work. I whatsapp my friend and give her an update, and also a little heads-up, to check up on me. Paranoia? I have been threatened that if I don’t agree to some bloke, I’ll be made to give up work and stay at home. The mother has also threatened on countless occasions to come to my work place and create a scene. She is quite capable of these things.  She once called a salon to check up on me because I was running a bit late.

This was the first time that the entire family was asked to gather for a purpose of this nature. A whole new level of crazy. There was one incident though when one of my mother’s brothers was summoned to convince me to agree to a nutcase who liked to fly toy helicopters in his spare time. He couldn’t stay in Singapore for a month because he missed his family. Well good for him, but I wanted none of that. Anyway the only way I managed to end the conversation is by saying , “I don’t see why I should be having this conversation with you seeing that you are nothing to me”. All that “No i don’t like him”, “He is not my type”, “This is not what I want” fell on deaf ears because the way they see things it’s all about compromising and sacrificing. I agree that you need to compromise and sacrifice in life but that comes with choice. WHY WOULD YOU GIVE UP ANYTHING FOR SOME RANDOM RANDOM RANDOM PERSON YOU WANT TO HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH? Oh and then later in the night, the mother’s youngest brother calls from abroad (thankfully I have to deal with him face-to-face only twice a year) to convince me again, and similarly when the “No i don’t like him”, “He is not my type”, “This is not what I want” did not work I had to resort to “Fine, there is nothing wrong with him, I can’t wait to marry him, in fact I am dying to marry him!” worked like a charm. He hung up the phone.

The distinguished invitees or the experts hand-picked by the youngest brother for this hushed up discussion held behind closed doors, includes of course himself (who is quite decently successful in a twisted sense, he holds a Director post in a telecommunication Company in the middle-east, married to a pretty but clueless woman who stopped school half way so as to concentrate on Sewing/Needlework and the likes? And have two adorable kids), another brother (who was pretty bad-ass when he was young, married some crazy woman who has turned even crazier and now has him by the balls, and as a result had to compose himself so as to maintain the peace at the home front (too complicated?), another brother (married to an extreme simpleton who can’t manage basically anything by herself/his daughter gave up school because she wanted to get married, moved to the middle-east with her husband and who is afraid to go to the bathroom all the way there after my grandpa’s funeral all the way here.) and OH WAIT MY BROTHER has been invited too? The very same one who half an hour ago wanted me to suggest a subject for an email drafted for him by the mother requesting an extension of leave on medical grounds. Apparently his marital status has elevated and rendered him the desired qualification to serve in meddling with my affairs. Then of course, the mother, the father, and the aunt.

We are dealing with people who are completely different from me. For them girls should be given freedom in moderation. School education is more or less sufficient, higher education is fine, and even to those who can at least to a certain extent digest a career for women, all of it amounts to nothing if by at least 22 she is not married. Well I am 26. Un-married. I don’t see marriage in the horizon. I do fear sometimes of being alone, having no one ladida but that is not good reason enough for me to take the plunge with some extremely random bloke chosen by my clan. My thinking is alien to them. Explaining this is of no use whatsoever. I have done it on countless occasions and the only reply I get is along the lines of “You have to sacrifice”, “You can change him later”, “You can’t have everything the way you want”. Well of course I know I cant have everything I want, I mean I don’t even know what exactly I want. But I do know what I don’t want and that I’m guessing is a start?

So I guess this is why these meetings are so intolerable. Simply because it is not a discussion. It is one-sided. They will bully you into answering their questions, and when the answers are obviously not what they expect they keep pestering until I say something that will end the conversation. I have two options. To either just agree to everything which obviously is never going to happen. Or just say something mean and sarcastic, which is obviously never pleasant when you are a freaking one man army.

Weirdly though the meeting broke after nearly two hours of heated discussion I wasn’t summoned as anticipated. All of this would be hilarious if it wasn’t happening to me. I was not quite sure what to make of it. Glad that there was no need for unnecessary confrontation? But then again relief is just momentary. There’s always the next day, maybe sometime I’m caught off guard, at sometime I’m less in control… But for the moment they were okay with greeting me with a nice bye-bye as they were leaving, almost as though the entire conversation was all about blowing bubbles.

So what are your expectations?

“My expectations?”

I’d like to be left alone. I’d like to have nothing to do with you or with this whole meeting. I’d like to go home and watch a movie, listen to some music or just stare into space. Well unfortunately it is only in my head that I can say all these things. Instead I just say, “Well erm nothing much, you can’t really say..”

The above exchange transpired last night, at yet another ‘blind date’/ ‘husband finding mission’ set up by the family.

These dates are absolute torture. Lets take a typical date.

I come home home after work to find an outfit, usually a hideous one, laid out for me by the mother. Sometimes though the aunt who has a wee bit more fashion sense would disagree and substitute it with another one. I’d usually go with the hideous one, say for instance if the meeting is set up at home. Once I was actually asked whether I was going for a wedding and then it struck me, oh yeah the bling  outfit. Heh. If the meeting is out though I’d go for the other option because there are chances that I maybe seen by people I don’t want to be seen in this state.

“GO have a wash soon and get ready, we have to be there by 7.30”.

Right..So I don the outfit, put a touch of make up and await rest of the instructions? As expected the mother walks in, “what is this? put some make up on, I can’t see anything. something to light up your cheeks? Do your eyes. Put some lipstick, I cant see!”. Then she gets the aunts opinion and whoever else’s who’s  there. There is always someone there.

Err…

“Pull your hair back and tie it in a ponytail. What are all these pieces? SO ugly!”

Right…

Next comes the Jewellery. Gold Jewellery.

“Put these ear-rings on, the ones you are wearing aren’t bright enough”. Then she hands me a chain, a ring, and a bracelet. After a while she remembers that there is still room for a pendant. “You want to wear this pendant with the chain?” What? OMG!? I have a say? “No”.

And then she starts with the do’s and the don’ts.

“Here now talk nicely okay, ask him about his job, his interests. If he asks you about work tell him that you are working at the moment, but you are okay with giving up, I mean after all when the right time comes you have to noh?” The aunt adds,”just be diplomatic, we can only convince them later and slowly no. And you must also sacrifice, compromise..”.

More from the mother,

“Don’t keep your mouth like this” and she mocks, showing me how not to keep my mouth. “Just smile it lights up your face and then you look fairer”

“Don’t sit with your legs up” (legs crossed)

Now it’s time to go.

“Okay come soon now. No no not those shoes”.

“Did you apply cream to your feet?”

“Okay go and tell grandma, tell X, tell Y…What is your problem? Stop making that face!”

Grandma “Ill pray that you find a decent sweetheart”

An aunt quips, “tsk, go happily dear, what is this, go happily”.

Now we are in the vehicle, mother, father and the brother. The brother drives coolly. Mentions something about the rain.

Mother repeats the do’s and the don’ts. But she has more to say. “Ask for forgiveness from God”. Err WTF. “Say this” and she volunteers snippets of holy verses. I roll my eyes and whatsapp my friend.

“Put that away and listen to me”.

“What is wrong with you? Why are you making that face?”

I put my phone aside, lean back and close my eyes.

Finally we arrive at the destination and this time quite a fancy one at that. She asks me to go sit with my brother, and that I’ll be called when I’m needed, best order I got for the whole day.

So I go sit with the brother. We talk about how good the hotel looks after recent renovations, we compare it to another hotel. Then I inquire after his results. Then he tells me he has to pee and that he had to use the loo 5 times since 4.30. Random chit chat.

Half an hour and whatshisface and his family are still not to be seen.

“They’ll be here at 8.30”.

The mother comes to check up on us. “Sit up straight, sit on THIS chair, the lighting is better here. Put the shawl properly”.

Whatshisface and his family at the entrance. Finally.

This Conversation is now OVER!

This conversation is now OVER!! Oh how I love saying those words to all these inquisitorial busy bodies who always seem to think they know what’s best for me. I only wish I could say it more often, especially to the older members of my clan, but that would result in me having to take an earful of their mouthful. Tsk.

The latest opportunity relates to last night when a family friend (opposite sex, same age) tells me he has to talk to me. He seemed ever so mysterious, for instance when he was about to leave the house, he asks me not to sleep early. Waaa?  I obviously slept. As I wake up I see a message from him, which was sent the previous night. Anyway the mysterious topic relates to Blind-date 799 (https://snobregal.wordpress.com/2015/02/09/blind-date-799/), at which he along with my brother started listing out possible suitors for me from their circle, after which I stopped talking to him? Huh? Okay? What? Really?

Basically what took place here was that when “No thanks, shut up” did not work, I zoned out of the conversation and drifted off to someplace…possibly to someplace where I was mentally murdering them?

Anyway I thought I’d be nice for once in my life and explain to the fellow in his language how things work.

“You see, it’s like this, if you try to set me up with some random dude, OR aid, abet or counsel others engaged in the same, I will have no choice but to demote you to the level of an acquaintance.”

To which he goes “Are you going to be like this forever?”.  Like what? To these jokers, being unmarried is the single worst predicament that could befall a woman!

Then I say “That’s my problem.” To which he says “Not only yours.  You should think of your family!”

Good lord, there is no hope. I realized that I will never be able to reach his level of genius and out came the golden words “This conversation is now OVER.”

Blind date 799

I have to go on blind dates on an almost weekly basis “to find a suitable boy” to “marry” so that I can be “happy” because clearly to those around me “I’m not happy”.

So I walk in to meet blind date dude 799 (or atleast that is how it feels) at McDonalds, the chosen venue, fuming because at the entrance I had to make minor adjustments so that my appearance would be just fine..it was only after sitting down did my mother realize that I was still wearing my glasses, she hisses “remove your specs!” which I chose to ignore and fortunately she could not do anything more radical because the damage was already done.

So I look around for dude 799 only to find out that he is going to be fashionably late, it is walking distance from where he works so apparently there is some logic in him turning up after I get to the venue. Thirty mins after I get there he walks in, plonks himself in front of me and looks to me as if I am supposed to do all the talking. The hell. I looked at the joker blankly to which he goes “You wanted to see me?”. (This is the second incident I was kept waiting, first was at the first meeting which was set up for us to meet, but only the mother and sister turned up because they had to appraise me first and if they find me al-right, their little brat will anyway agree. WHAT A MORON.) I reply yeah it is part of the procedure, although in my head I wanted to ask ‘do I look like I want to be here?’. He continues to stare at my face almost as if he wasnt sure what procedure meant. Then he goes “are you shy?”, I say no this is routine. Then he goes “what is your ambition?”, what does one say when one asks, a doctor, lawyer, architect etc “what is your ambition?”. I dont remember the entirety of the conversation, but at one point when I mentioned that I havent done my Masters yet, he replied “oh you want to be a master”. Sigh. After a painstaking half-hour or so of this it was time to wrap up, at which he goes “You like me?”. Me in all my meanness did not have the balls to say no I dont instead I just sai “er, we just met”. Then his mother comes, hugs me and goes “you like him?”. Seriously people, ever heard of body language?

Once dude 799 and his clan leaves, my clan along with my brother’s friend sits down to discuss the event and starts listing down further candidates from their circle as possible potentials!