Friday, 14 December 2012


I turn 23 in February, which in Sri Lankan Muslim sp33k is code for 'ah here, it's time to find a partner for this one ah'.

I'm terrified.
Don't get me wrong, my parents are extremely understanding, liberal people, and would never force me into anything. My mother got married only at 29 after medical college, a mad old age for the marriage of a girl by ordinary conservative Muslim standards. They don't care if I find someone myself or if I want them to find somebody, and either way, I'll get to know him before the actual thing.

But it's not even a Muslim thing anymore.
Everywhere I look, people are getting married or having babies. My friends are getting old, man. Blurry Instagram pics of weddings of peers fill up my newsfeed, some married friend says 'hey I'm pregnant!' - and I'm here, like, what the hell? Where did all the time go?

You don't have to get married so, just wait.

This is what I told myself and tried every possible way to argue it out with people. But I don't know, on the other hand I'm far from the dating-around type - it probably makes me retrogade but I don't like the idea of perpetually trying-on-a-new-relationship till you find the mythical 'one'. And honestly for how long can you keep playing that game before it just gets ridiculous especially in an Asian society? I do also appreciate the security and social order that a marriage typically signifies. Also my mother claims at some point you'll be the only single person in your clique and then they won't invite you to their tea parties anymore because they'll be afraid you'll steal their husbands.

Yeah, okay, mother.

So what's the big deal, Shifani? Everyone gets old and everyone gets married, don't be a pussy.

I'll tell you what's the big deal. 

1. I have come to realize that I have really shit taste in men, judging from 90% of the people I've felt affection for so far. They're usually completely aimless principle-less anarchists, and almost always, at the end of the day I go 'what the hell was I thinking?' (the idea of my parents making a saner, more secure choice is actually more comforting, oftentimes.)

2. But then I also have this gripping fear that either way, 1.5 years into the marriage - I'll have this conversation with my husband about, say, kittens - a subject we've never broached before. And he'll say 'kittens are so annoying and stupid, I just wish they'd all die'. And then I'll be like, 'WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY' and I'll realize 'oh no, I am married to a kitten-hater, oh god what has my life become' but then it'll be too late because you're stuck with this fellow forever and ever since you've committed yourself, especially if there are kids involved. My children will be fathered by a kitten hater. (the kittens here may be a metaphor for several sorts of things, or quite literally, may just mean kittens - because seriously, what kind of horrible, horrible person hates kittens?) 

I'm an independent-spirited sort of person, and I've been raised that way. I do my own thing and life changes according to my own decisions, and no one else's. So I think this is all just basically a fear of being stuck to someone forever. Suddenly, you wake up in the morning and you realize, hey I can't book a train ride out of town to that awesome joint for the fun of it, because I have to take the little one to the doctor because of its nappy rash, and I have to work it out first with the ball-and-chain husband's schedule.

On the other hand, maybe I'm just subscribing to the stereotypical Western notion of 'omg marriage is, like, so last century'. Mostly, though, I think I'm just panicking about this growing up stuff, as per usual. Mum says life is short and life is full of challenges and you're going to have problems whether you get married or not, so just face it and deal with it as it comes. Also she said you have to get married because I'd like to have loads of fat, beautiful grandchildren.

Yeah, okay, mother.


  1. I think I know someone for you. Its sort of like a proposal. You know him well..

  2. Hullo Shifani,

    Growing up scares the shit out of me too.

    I’m 25, and engaged to be married after YEARS of being told that I’d soon be long past my ‘expiry date’ if I didn’t hurry up and get hitched. That my ovaries would shrivel up in impatience so that even if I did get my act together, I wouldn’t be able to produce progeny with the same frequency as the human vending machine I’m expected to be.

    I agreed to marry my fiancĂ©e after 3 years of getting to know him – first as a friend, and then as a serious potential spouse, but in all the seriousness of what we’d like to think was a ‘halaal courtship.’ And even then sometimes it still feels like it’s not enough. I’ll tell you this - it will never be enough.

    I am constantly uncovering new traits, ideas and sides to him that I was never exposed to the 3 years before - some discoveries even rendering me shell-shocked, making me want to shout THERE’S NO HOPE FOR US NOW! while I escape this oft-suffocating cage of responsibility on a horse conveniently waiting for me outside.

    But here’s the thing. If ever I freaked out at any insecurities before, I freaked out alone. Now I have a punching bag. Someone to blame, to flip out with. But more importantly, someone with whom to come to terms with any fears together. For in our attempts to seek out sympathy (as we rightly should!), we tend to forget that the other half has his set of demons too.

    I think I’d make a rubbish, fat mother, but he assures me otherwise. On another day he'd voice fears of not being able to provide as a husband, and I would return the favour. But best are the times we'd flip out together – for in doing so only come to realise that priority shifts from seeking comfort to wanting to provide it. Two paranoid heads are better than one, and that in my opinion is what’s going to make a marriage work.

    You’ll learn to deal with him being a kitten-hater because you’ll find something else in him that makes up for it – that is if he hasn’t already volunteered to attempt to at least like the darn fuzzballs for your sake in the first place. You’ll end up having to make many compromises too, but will also be pleasantly surprised at the ease with which you do.

    As for the shit taste in men? It’s only a sieve for you to be able to truly discern for when the right one comes around. Girlfriends I know who’ve been in both physically and emotionally abusive pre-marital relationships have ended up marrying the most wonderful men, and I reckon it’s because they’ve established by then what NOT to sign up for.

    I say all this not to assure you but myself. Here I am like you, having to bank on the malarkey that women soppily gripe on about motherhood to be true – that you’d willing drop a good night out with friends just to tend to your brat’s runny nose. That faith in all of this ‘soulmate’ bunk is enough to have you standing by a man with the potential to be follicularly-challenged, just in knowing that the significant other will be there for you too in testing times.

    Maturity blows, it really does. But just like getting over your first period, is it not only logical that marriage with all of its baggage will too be something to overcome?

    It all boils down to faith doesn’t it? The blind certainty that HE would never dump you in a fix that you don’t have the capacity to handle, is surely reason above all else to truly believe that you’ll be alright? That we’ll all be alright.

    Marriage is most definitely something to be terrified of. Keep at it I say, for it only makes you human.
    But just like you’d pledge to overcome a fear of heights, don’t hold back from the thrill of this free fall.