Monday, December 18, 2006

Malay Romance

“What do you want for our anniversary?” asked a friend’s husband.

“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 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...


Anonymous said...

Snab, on our first anniversary I gave my husband this book - Hopeless Romatic: A romance manual for men. Hmmmphhh...sampai now sama je. The book is currently collecting dust next to our bed (his side, on the side table).

I never hinted. I just TELL him what to do. but tak best la kan..hhahahah... hope you and family are well.


halwafy said...

Eddy: And I thought only malay men have this problem...;)

mami-oh-mummy said...

in the movie cinta...shidi was potrayed as a very hopeless romantic person...of course very not Malay style but as you said it has to come from the heart kan...i takde la nak mcm shidi tuh...lemas laks nanti...but at least on special occasions like my birthday or our just-around-the-corner anniversary...i would love if he 'surprise' me with even a little tiny present 'wrapped' in proper wrapper or 'boxed'...because he usually asked what i wanted and we kinda bought it not romantic kan..and dinners or whatever plans for celebration never comes from him...

FloweRinTheDesert said...

What is it about Malay men when they actually try to be romantic, they become 'jiwang'. ;)

My hubby was a romantic. NOT the jiwang type, but romantic ROMANTIC. Unfortunately his romantic side only lasted the pre marrital stage! haha Lepas kahwin, the romantic side of him kinda disappeared over time. :)

Ayu said...

Haiya.. you used my name to lie to your in-laws ker? Apa-apa lah...
You are no that the only one, actually. Orang lain pun pernah buat jugak.

Nasib nasib...

halwafy said...

Sorry, sorry...lain kali tak buat lagi ok..? :)

jujuqtpie said...

I guess I have to agree with you, halwafy that Malay men in general, aren't that romantic in the sense that they aren't the type to give you flowers and trinkets. My hubby isn't that way, and luckily for him, I am not either. I'd rather receive a potted plant than flowers! However, you are still being given something.

My idea of romance I guess is more on the emotional and physical side. Romantic for me, is, I suppose, sitting or lying in my hubby's arms when we are watching TV. Romantic for me is when he remembers I like Rojak Penang and he buys it for me. Romantic for me is calling me up to say he's on his way home when he's travelling and calling me up to find out if I have arrived safely when I am travelling. Romantic stuff for me are the free stuff that you don't need money to buy but stuff that shows you are loved. It's the little little things. Big things are a bonus of course!

Mrs Cey said...

K ibah

malaysian romance is berpantun di bawah bulan mengambang, di pantai cinta berahi hihihihi.

For us, its going grocery shopping together :)

Anonymous said...

Once I asked my husband to that (cook for me). larang keras kita masuk dapur. Food was ok. But my non-stick periuk calar balar due to wrong senduk and basuh ngan dawai..

halwafy said...

Mrs Cey: Ye lah..I think you may be right abt the pantun thing although I have to say that when it comes to pantun, my hubby would be very 'romantic' indeed coz he's very good at it!

Grocery shopping together romantic? Yeah, you buy things for two and make decisions together - makes you feel that you're 1 unit, kan? But wait and see if that is still romantic when there's four of you :)

Nomee: Why do men like to ketuk2 our periuk belanga and kuali - is it because depa nak tiru macam mamak yg masak mee goreng kat gerai tu...??;) I know at least 3 men who like to do that!

Thanks for dropping by my humble cyber abode.

Nicholas said...

Hello Kak Ibah!

It's been a long time since you updated. Lagipun jarang jumpa kat YM. How are things?

Kirimkan salam to Mr S, H and H ! (not sure if you're comfortable with me naming them, so i am using their initials)

halwafy said...

Nicholas: It's the Xmas hols and the kids and Mr S are at hands are full! Insh will update soon...