It was my Pak Long who have given me the most hurtful remarks. He always does!
“Hang bila nak kawin nie?” (When are you gonna get married?”)
The acidic question was splashed onto my face in front of almost thirty close family members after the recital of Yassin for the dying nenek.
Nenek was lying motionless, taking her battering breath and struggles to contain her drool. She was facing her most dreadful guest, the angel of death.
But my uncle choses that very moment to unfold that stupid conversation as if he knew that the Asra’il is still taking his sweet time to take nenek away.
I had to act fast to avoid further insult. I knew with that question, any answer would be followed with strings of other questions which the ultimate aim was to see me defeated. He had other comrades who are waiting with semi automatic guns ready at their disposal.
There were my mother and father at the corner which I should be considering in giving my answer. I could not be seen to be unfilial to my parents. My wise and selected words mirrored their own virtues in raising me. If I had my way, my first answer would be something like this; “Mind your own bloody business old fart!”
” I don’ t rush myself into this la uncle, I have other priorities” I blurted it out.
He asked ” How old are you?”
I was like, here we go again.
I said ” 35″
He said ” 35? When I was your age, my kids were all in the secondary schools and here you are, yet to even have a girl friend”. He sounded rather jokingly but the sharpened harpoon was no less penetrating. His nonchalant remark drew a wave of laughter from my relatives. My ayah just kept quiet, fiddling his fingers with a surah Yassin in his hand. Mak in the other hand was pretending to wipe the drool on nenek’s lower lip.
I could feel the fire engulfed my entire head. I knew for certain that the night is going to be tough. It was very tough.
I said ” Money is hard to come by and it is not easy to feed another mouth”. I had no idea why did I say those words. They were only words I managed to utter.
” If money is the problem, uncle can help. Mak long can find you a suitor if you like” He said.
“If you have a problem with the down south, let me find some help” He continues…bla bla and I was cornered but I could see my mother was kind of begging me through her eyes asking me not to retaliate.
That was it. I had enough. I had almost storm out but the other uncle has sensed the shooting arrow has indeed hit its target. He diverted the whole conversation by pointing his finger to now restless nenek.
If ever nenek had listened to the whole conversations, she was showing it with her weak movement of her limb. I guess and wanted to believe it was nenek final act in defending me. She did, everyone was paying attention to her and the whole conversation abruptly died as it was suddenly ignited.
I was saved by nenek gasping for air.
- Nenek : grandma
- Asra’il : Islamic name for the angel of death
- MakLong: Aunty
- PakLong : Uncle
- Down South : Penis