Marriage isn’t like playing with sand – It’s til death!

The women in my family are built strong, with a wicked sense of humour, and to be honest most of us have inherited a less than favourable attitude towards men (as partners).

My grandmother, Popo, has never asked me about marriage. At 30, at a time when my friends and family are expecting me to tie the knot any second now, my own gran has not once put any kind of pressure on me and instead speaks to the opposite effect.

Popo – ‘Men are trouble. Its very hard to find a good man, very hard. You don’t have to get married, just save your money. Marriage isn’t like playing with sand you know, you don’t play around, it’s til DEATH!’

With stern words like these being passed down from my grandmother, to my mother, to myself, it’s no wonder I became a slight commitment phobe.

I ask Popo if she regrets getting married to Pak, she replies no, of course she loved him (my grandfather Pak passed away a couple of years ago), however it was not easy being married to a Muslim man who had been divorced once before, and had taken a second wife briefly. Plus dealing with all the other mischief that men get up to. But he loved children, and her favourite time in life was when things were good with her husband and her 7 children. (my mother had been the eldest)

My mother once told me the story of when I was born, that she had purposely told my father that I was a boy. She watched him get all excited and tell everyone in the neighborhood that he had just had another son, and then when he was done, she laughed and told him that I was actually a girl. My father got mad at her practical joke, but my mother found this hilarious. She loved telling me this story, and her face lit up at the memory.

Strong, with a quirky, wacky sense of humour.

2 tales of romance – The story of Popo & Pak vs Special K & Mr Man

Scene 1
My girlfriend in her 30’s, lets just call her Special K, was telling me about this guy she met on an internet dating site. Let’s call him Mr Man.

Special k – ‘We went on a date. He’s really funny and we had a good time, and when it was time to go home we were both so drunk that we decided to Dial-a-Driver, it’s this new awesome driver service that’s catered towards drunks who don’t want to leave their car out. Anyway, so while the drivers driving my car home, I’m in the passenger seat and Mr Man’s sitting behind, I get really sick and start throwing up in my car! The driver has to pull over for me and I’m spewing and apologising to him at the same time, while Mr Man’s in the back seat laughing and yelling ‘why are you saying sorry to him for – IT’S YOUR CAR!’

A week later I’m skyping with Special K and I ask how things are going with Mr Man.

Special K –‘ aah, I don’t think I’m going to see him anymore’

T – ‘why?’

Special K – ‘ Erm.. I find him gross’

T, laughing –‘Let me get this straight, you went on a fun date, you VOMIT in front of him, and you find HIM gross?’ claps hands laughing..

Scene 2
I’ve been recording my grandmothers memories of her childhood, her marriage to my grandfather, and of my mother.

I ask my 84 year-old grandmother (Popo) how she and grandfather (Pak) met and got married.

Popo, in Chinese but translated by my cousin Sheba –‘I was working as a hostess in this lounge in Johor (Malaysia), and Pak used to come in everyday and order a Milo. For 2 years he would just come in an order a Milo from me. Then he started giving me lifts home from work (did he court you, take you on a date?) no, just lifts home. I used to date a lot of Chinese boys who would take me to the movies, I wasn’t interested in getting married so every week I would say I wasn’t interested in someone and go to the movies with someone else. After 5 years of giving me lifts home, Pak asked me to marry him and I said yes. All my friends couldn’t understand why, he was Malay, and I had never been interested in getting married’

T –‘Did your mother have any issues with you marrying a muslim man?’

Popo – ‘No, my mother said as long as he can look after you and is a good man, religion doesn’t matter.’

T – ‘So what made Pak special from the rest?’

Popo – ‘ … I don’t remember’

T – ‘So even though you were being chased by all these Chinese men who were actually courting you, you said yes to the one who never took you out, and was of a different religion?’

Popo – ‘Yes’

I knew I probably wasn’t getting the whole story, but I could kinda believe that my grandmother would choose my grandfather simply because he was handy. He was after all the man who provided her with transport for 5 years! However, I was pleased to learn that after the wedding, the movies and dinners did eventualy come.

Now, when I compare the 2 stories, one from the 1940’s set in a Muslim country, and the other a modern-day tale from a western society, I cant help but ask ‘are we being too picky?’