“I want…romance,” she had replied.
“How..? Just tell me la what you want..”
“I want romance. Pikir lah sendiri…!” (Think about it yourself!)
“Tak reti…” (Don’t know..)
Malay men…don’t they know the meaning of the word romance? I don’t think so. But then again, what does a Malay woman expect when she wants romance? If you’re a woman, ask yourself. Candle lit dinner at home, perhaps? Dining out, at a very nice and expensive place – without the kids tagging along? A romantic card attached to a box of chocolate hearts or better yet, a small velvety box? Or maybe canoodling in a 5 star hotel somewhere with one’s spouse, leaving the kids with the maid or the in laws?
I remember doing exactly that last one on one of my wedding anniversaries and telling a white lie to my in laws (we were living with them at the time in Seremban) that we had some dinner or other after work and that we decided to sleep over at my sister’s in Bukit Jelutong. The funny thing was, when we came back the next day, there was a big ‘Happy Anniversary’ card on our bedroom table! Imagine my embarrassment because obviously, they remembered that it was our anniversary and probably suspected that we went to a hotel somewhere for some extra 'sound proof' in the middle of the night. Not that the rooms in that hotel we stayed in were sound proof, of course, but I think the thick carpets and thick curtains probably absorb more sound than the rug and curtains at home, so…
Thank God, my in laws are pretty sporting people. Anyway, that’s not the point..
I was trying to identify and determine what actually constitutes romance for most of us Malay women, basically, women like me, the average perempuan melayu. I mean, frankly, the candle lit dinner just wouldn’t cut it for me without wonderful conversation and some other intangibles and I would probably start coughing from the smoke coming from the flames anyway (I’m asthmatic, as you might know). I just don’t fancy things like that – things that is so often used on TV to ‘describe’ romantic - just detest ‘commercial romantic’! Plus, that’s really NOT our culture, is it?
But what is supposed to be true Malay romance?
I mean, come on, think about it. If the people in the kampung want to be romantic, what is the first thing they think about? Everything is so commercialised and westernised nowadays and I am not well read when it comes to Malay books and culture - so it is really my ignorance that's to be blamed, really - but I would really like to find out the real romance for Malays.
Or is there no such thing?
Funnily enough, although I am an avid romance reader, I can’t think of much romantic stuff at the moment that could be construed as totally Malay. That’s probably because when I read, I can clearly see the people in the books – not so much in the details of their faces – just that it is always so very clear to me that they are mat saleh, NOT Malay. So even though I’ve read more than 80 romances this past year (yup, I counted!), I could never mistake the fact and however much I want to, could never imagine myself doing the romantic stuff they do in the books.
But thinking about it, I suppose...to me, romance, if anything, must come from the heart.
As in a special dinner cooked just for you by your husband when he doesn’t really know how to cook but he tries anyway because he wants to show you how much he loves you and he wants to make it ‘special’.
Now, THAT would make me feel romanced, even when my kids are screaming at my side, vying for attention and my husband looks a mess with an apron and a spatula in hand.
You think I’m a bit weird?
But that's exactly what my husband did for our last anniversary.
You think he's romantic? He's not. Well........not really, anyway.
I asked him to cook for me for our anniversary. But not just that, I looked for a recipe that I wanted to try, bought all the stuff needed in order to cook it and asked him prettily to cook it for me! He agreed (but not without calling me every few minutes “babe, macam mana ni?” (babe, how do you do this?)). But I appreciated his efforts and I did, honestly, feel romanced because it wasn’t easy for him to do what he did. Although it would have been brilliant if he had thought to do it all by himself, of course.
So my conclusion is...
You want romance from your husband? Don't give him a hint. Don't ask for 'romance' coz chances are, you may never get it.
Tell him how to do it. Teach him and he will learn. Sow the seeds and you will reap the fruit.Heh..I have always been a practical person...