“Kak Sofie… Along ni.”
Oh. Right. Along.
Our families are very close, Along’s and mine. Her mother was my mum’s older sister, and my favorite aunt. We grew up practically in each other’s homes; we were each other’s support system and lifeline when things were rough. And when we lost her mother to cancer three years ago, that lifeline became essential as my family struggled to keep a strong hold on Along, her siblings and their mu’alaf father.
Our familial relationship meant we were cousins. However, her growing up with me felt every bit like we were siblings.
My mind flew back briefly to the phone conversation between my mum and her dad earlier in the evening. He had invited—no, requested our family’s presence at a risik meeting for Along this weekend. My mother was to take the place of my late aunt in the upcoming discussions.
My mum accepted the task, as a devoted sister and stand-in mother would. But I thought she seemed a tad sad about it. And I think I know why.
Her first experience in marrying off a daughter will, unfortunately, not start with her own brood.
I know she feels a bit apprehensive. I am the eldest grandchild of the family, and although the phrase langkah bendul doesn’t immediately come to mind, that’s essentially what it is, isn’t it? I’d been beside my mother when she ended the conversation, and her eyes told me so much when she looked at me. I didn’t want her to pull me down that depressing road, so I cut her off by teasing her about what good practice it’ll be for when my time finally comes. If it ever.
My mother never pressured me into marriage. I was sure her silence on the subject was due to her respect for my feelings, and faith that I would find my own way to the altar someday, somehow. I’ve always been the independent one after all. And my father? well, he’s only too happy to see me remain unattached. Something about always being daddy’s little girl.
Honestly, the opposite sex – and all that that entails – was never my forte. Outside of friendship and camaraderie, I really didn’t understand guys. I was always their older sister, their friend, their confidant. Relationships beyond these perimeters were locked doors and off limits to me.
Oh, not that I’ve never tried gaining access. Believe me, I’d risked it enough to hurt.
I’ve watched the way my female colleagues deal with the men where we worked. All the silly banter and witty comebacks and subtle signals. I thought, what man in his right mind would be attracted to so much nonsense? And yet…
It drew them like moths to a flame. All of them.
I didn’t banter. I wasn’t sharp enough for witty comebacks. And according to reliable sources, I am completely oblivious to signals of any kind! I’d proven this true by observing the men whenever they were in my presence. At best, some were polite and conversational. At worst, I was ignored altogether. Guess it's nothing but business with Miss Shaaruddin...
Perhaps my grandmother was the one to put it most delicately. It had me and my mother laughing when we heard what she had to say. It also secretly made my mother an emotional wreck not long after that.
Anak kau sorang yang tak laku.
Truthful words. Short and effective. And my dear cousin’s pending nuptial is only one of so many chances my grandma has had to prove it.
What else can I do but laugh?