Late last night at an old friend’s house while waiting for my family to pick me up after the wedding, I chatted briefly with her dad (who is truly all kinds of wonderful). In that short period we discussed an interesting array of topics from institutional religion, Malaysian societal and cultural norms, and of course – marriage.
At one point he asked, “Are you okay?”
“I’m okay,” I replied him, a little surprised. I paused.
“But sometimes I think my Dad is sad. He would like his daughter to be loved and taken care of too. When I came back for good, our society and culture…”
“But he gave you the world!” Uncle countered.
“You came back from the States isn’t it? Your accent gives you away.”
I laughed. “I thought I already did away with it!”
Then Uncle said something that I thought was especially profound; it rendered me internally silent. He said it puzzles him sometimes when he notices couples – women – these days marrying early, because “the women of our society today are different from those back in the day; there are so many more things to strive for besides marriage.” I smiled, hearing that. “Women of today,” my old friend’s dad said, “Are built differently with opportunities that not long ago were not present to them. Don’t get me wrong about marriage – there are many wonderful things about it. But it is strange to still want to aim for marriage [as a purpose].”
What makes up a person’s achievements in life come in many forms, I thought to myself, and not one person is lesser or greater for their respective lots in life. I sat there in their dimly lit living room at midnight with the slow whir of the standing fan feeling strangely moved to the core.