Everyone is born in this world has a story or journey of their own. This piece may have similarities to your own or maybe it is a knowledge that some of you might never know exists.
It hurts. it really does hurt her. It tires her down. Consistently being the punching bag of an angry mom who does not have her own sense of satisfaction and who is not able to have a peaceful life.
Remembering everything said from a mother to her own flesh and blood. Blaming all the arguments that occur on the daughter. Telling her she was never good enough for the family and does not belong to the family because she has a dark complexion and was never good in her studies. She grows up living in a house where she is the punching bag, and the constant demand to please her mom is intensely pressuring.
She did not know that the failure of her parents’ marriage has made her think about what makes a good marriage. She had thought that if being married means always having arguments, and if to have children is to bash them, then it’s really scary.
Even as a working adult the shadow of her mom is always near, making her feel that everything that is done is done to please her. Every cent earned has to be accounted for and there is a constant feeling of guilt because being a Muslim daughter means always obliging and respecting the one that gave birth to you.
She started to think that the only way out from being bashed and having to cater to her mother’s wants and needs is to get to know the opposite sex, even though she knows of her limitations in terms of confidence and appearance.
It only started when she was working at Cisco. A uniformed-working environment with shift work and an environment with different kinds of personalities. Knowing guys there was like walking into closet—just pick and choose. If it matches, boom it’s yours, if not move on to the other one! Hahaha.
He was a part-time cleaner at night at Cisco but by day his full-time job was as a technician in a factory. She saw him a few times while he was doing his part-time cleaning job but never once had a conversation with him nor really ever noticed him. She got to know him through a friend whose boyfriend was his friend. When she was out with them, he had no choice but to take her on his motorcycle. In fact, he did not find her attractive because of her darker complexion.
The 8 years of knowing him were full of ups and downs, but at last the big day was nearby. Two and a half years of engagement preparation was made and every paycheck was used to pay for the upcoming event. Even that was done to please her mother.
Every pay she received monthly, her mother demands $500 even though her pay after CPF deduction was less than $2000. She was working in sales by then, and could only purchase the expensive gifts for the engagement’s exchanging of gift ceremony from the company staff sales and when she received her bonus.
She remembered she had purchased a Charles Jordan pair of watches but her mom just rejected it and said to purchase “proper exchange gifts”. She changed the gift to a pair Omega watch that cost a total of $2000 after staff discount.
The whole purpose of wanting a grand wedding was to please the family, and it already felt like a disaster. But I felt I had to go forward with it because of the love we had for each other at that time. I thought that it was a way out and was told that it was a mature age for me to settle down in a marriage. Furthermore, the daily outings was seen as appropriate in the eyes of society and my relatives. After all, it was a really long relationship I had.
During the soleminization, I had mixed feelings and even felt like I wanted to run away. Even my make-up artist could see that I had mixed feelings. But I thought to myself that I should just go with it. Whatever is going to happen, just do it.
It was a wonderful first few years of marriage with the arrival of a baby boy and there was even a little change in my mom because her first-born grandson looks good. She was always praised for how cute and handsome her grandson was by relatives and friends, and it made her the proudest grandmother.
The marriage was still fruitful with the arrival of the second-born after a gap of five years. By this time I was a full-time mom and occasionally got a contract job with hopes of lightening the burden of the hubby. Being told that my mom was too tired to take care of the grandchildren meant the end of a paying job and taking on the job of a housewife.
Once a full-time housewife, two kids then became four and eventually the household money given to the wife dropped from $800 to $500 because she was told that there was the credit card that would be used for the children and the household, but never for the wife to spend on herself unless with the approval of Mr hubby.
More time was spent on the kids than with Mr hubby because he was busy working so that the household won’t be darkened (electricity won’t get cut off from not paying the electricity bills) and phone bills can get paid.
His hard work and dedication for the family is appreciated, and once in a while, they are even able to go on an overseas trip. The sad thing, though, is that there was not much communication between the hubby and the wife. Their conversations were only ever about the children, neighbours, and relatives but nothing about their relationship. They seem to drift further and further apart.
When there was a shortage of money, asking him for extra money would always be a hassle. He would give it eventually, but the relentless, heavy puffing of cigarettes would come after. Mr hubby was also responsible for his mother (she is deceased now), his married sister who has a working husband, and a disabled sister. He has seven other siblings but he felt that it was his priority to be responsible for them, and so that is where some of his income will go. It’s not that his wife doesn’t agree, but the childrens’ and wife’s needs were not his priority.
As years past, the children have grown up. The crying of children and attention needed by them has decreased. Even Mr hubby has a new hobby of riding his bicycle with friends. Spending more money on the bicycle and spending more time cycling is now a routine for him. Work and cycling. The wife was again the least of his priorities. The only priority was to “serve” him every Thursday night and that too felt like a routine with no sincerity. It felt like a “must do” instead of pleasure.
Mr hubby’s messages every day for almost 18 years has always said the same thing: “today am doing OT”. (Note: OT = overtime) There were no other messages unless the children wanted to eat something else or buy outside food.
At one time, there was a feeling that there was a need to do something since there seemed to be a great distance between the couple. The wife suggested going for a really nice date but was told off that it was not a necessary thing to do.
“Why are you following your friends’ need to go for dates. We have been married for almost quite some time, you should know that there is always love.”
Really? That’s it. She was told going to the market and doing laundry together is a good enough date. Once in awhile it is ok but that is not a real date! Mr hubby is at one corner and Mrs wifey is at another corner, where is the love??
Since she had always felt alone, Mrs wifey decided she might as well be alone. She decided to file for divorce and walked out of the marriage.
A Muslim lady that asks for a divorce is condemned by everyone. She was called a slut and bitch by her own mom and was asked to go out of the house since she asked for the divorce.
She was able to stay in the daughter’s room for almost a few months after the divorce. Leaving the children behind was sad, but she never felt guilty because she knew she had done a lot for the children for almost 18 years. She attended to their every need in schools, tuition and religious classes. She cooked, cleaned and even cycled up and down during fasting month for them. It’s up to every individual to judge.
After the divorce, being alone was never easy because she was not surrounded by the light of her life: her children. The perseverance of wanting to be alone has made her see a lot and made her think about how others perceive an individual person. It is difficult staying with strangers at the place where she is renting because they all have their own stories and nightmares that they are trying to erase.
Even though she is all alone, her children are always on her mind. She is always thinking about their welfare and how they are coping, especially during fasting month and waking up for the morning “breakfast”. It had always been her duty in the past to wake up as early as 3am just to cook fresh food for the family.
Sometimes, when she is feeling so lonely, she will try to sing to ease her mind so she won’t feel so alone. She may seem to be having the time of her life, but she’s struggling on her own. Trying scrap the loneliness is really not easy.
If this sounds like crap to all out there, then let it be crap. Like I said every human life story is told differently. Even if a love marriage occurs, if one is left to fend for one’s self, if one is always left seeking and hoping, then it was never meant to last forever.
Sasnidar is 47 and loves singing, cycling and swimming
Illustration by Ishibashi Chiharu