Sunday, December 15, 2013

Matrimonial harmony


A father imparts nuggets of wisdom to his children as they embark on the journey of marriage.
SOME say that marriage is an institution, given its established laws, customs, traditions, rituals and practices, while others profess that marriage is more akin to a mental institution.
When my son, Ardian, married Maslinda, and my daughter, Nada, married Darryl, they and their respective spouses were their own wedding planners.
They painstakingly took care of all the details of their own respective weddings and both wedding ceremonies turned out to be very successful.
I told them that if they worked on their marriage and life together just as hard as they had worked on their weddings, then they’ll do just fine. Indeed, marriage is hard work. Believe me, most of us are still working at it.
My wife, Arfah, and I told our children that, as parents, all we wanted in return for our lifetime efforts and sacrifices in bringing them up was to hear the patter of little feet.
There is a need for my genetic lineage to be perpertuated. It would be awesome to be bestowed a genuine, well-deserved title of datuk (grandfather), an “honorific” which can’t be retracted, regardless of any future misdemeanours on my part.
A grandchild in the offing, when I join the kingdom of the unemployed, will also do wonders to preserve my own matrimonial harmony, as the frequency of my wife and I bugging and irritating each other would reach tsunamic proportions! I told my wife that if she really wanted to hear the patter of little feet, perhaps I can help in its creation. Needless to say, her response was predictably negative and it took six weeks for the stitches to heal.
There are many narratives, fables, myths, jokes and even facts written or spoken about marriage. If you were to scour various literature in search of inspiration for your speech for a wedding, you will probably find plenty of jokes and anecdotes on marriage, but most of them make fun, albeit unfairly, of the weaker sex.
For example, why do men die before their wives ? Because they want to.
I have not spoken to my wife for weeks. Why? Because I don’t like to interrupt her. The last fight I had with my wife was my fault. She asked me what’s on TV and I said, dust.
They say that behind every great man there is a woman and if you look closely, behind that woman is his wife. But sometimes we underestimate the weaker sex. The silliest of women can manage a clever man but it takes a very clever woman to manage a fool. And men are sometimes fools.
During a wedding ceremony, it is customary for a father to impart his knowledge and extensive experience on what’s ahead for the unsuspecting couple.
It’s almost become a ritual at Malay weddings to expect a series of pantun (poetry) laced with wisdom and insight, supposedly meant to impart advice to the newlyweds, but it’s really to keep the audience awake and entertained.
I broke away from tradition a bit and did my verses in English:
My son asked me, “Dad, there’s something I need.”
I said, “Yes, I hear what you’re saying.”
“Dad, how much does it cost to get married?”
“I don’t know, son, I’m still paying.”
When I was a bachelor I had a ball,
Free and happy and never looked bad,
I thought I had no faults at all,
But marriage cured me of that.
When you’re angry, you grit your teeth,
Because your life, there’s no improvement,
You need a wife to find fault with,
Can’t blame everything on the Government.
I also rendered some advice to the hitched couples, as they prepared themselves for marriage. For the new wives, I offered these words to my daughter and daughter-in-law:
What is the best way to a man’s heart,
You have to separate fiction from fact,
Through the stomach is the wrong part,
It is geographically incorrect.
You have to do all that you can,
To let him know that you really care,
In time, you’ll be rewarded with a man,
With a pot belly and no hair.
To each other you have to be kind,
It’s not always satin and laces,
Your narrow waist and broad mind,
Don’t let them exchange places.
Let him think that he has won the fight,
Make him think that he’s the boss,
Don’t hold on to the reins too tight,
But never let go of the horse.
I also had something to say to my son and my son-in law, as they joined me in the wired confines of matrimony:
Sometimes you can’t have it all your way,
Your wife treats you like sheep,
To make her listen to every word you say,
Just try talking in your sleep.
Temptations abound, you’re vulnerable,
And you feel like having a little fun,
Remember, it’s easier to stay out of trouble,
Than for you to get out of one.
Marriage is a bond, marriage is a union,
There’ll be arguments no matter what,
Sometimes you have a different opinion,
Sometimes it’s best to keep your mouth shut.
Then I had some more words for both husband and wife:
A marriage to succeed, things you must have,
This you have to bear in mind,
The husband must become slowly deaf,
And the wife must become slowly blind.
Sometimes you feel you’re always wrong,
And sometimes it’s just your pride,
Quarrels will not last very long,
If the fault is only on one side.
Marriage is sometimes less, sometimes more,
Marriage is all about you and me,
Marriage is sometimes like going to war,
The best part is sleeping with the enemy!
And yet, for all its defects and deficiencies, marriage is still the preferred path to happiness and in its pursuit, nobody has truly cornered it.
It’s really all about the journey, not the destination.
Sometimes, I don’t take enough time to sit back and thank God for the blessings I have.
Throughout my life, if I could gather every memory, every smile, every tear, every pain, every bit of laughter, inevitably, invariably, unfailingly, she’s always there.
Nothing would make your life more complete than to have the love of a good woman.
This last verse is dedicated to my wife of 44 years:
And now I’m at the twilight of my years,
With this damsel still at my side,
I’d go once more through all the tears,
To have you again as my bride.

1 comment: said...

I am speechless! This is amazing. I loved the letter and specially the poem. I enjoyed reading your post very much. This is wonderful.