Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Tuesdays With Bapak

All About Love -- Tuesday March 4 2008

One Sunday afternoon, Adel asked me a question about -- love.

I blushed. My tongue got numb as though someone injected a heavy dose of anesthesia into it.
I could not speak.

Adel had never asked me about love, falling in love or about girlfriends. Or anything remotely related to any of these subjects.

But he had, after all turned 18, and had teased me about being eligible "to go to a strip club and ordering a martini".
I'll be honest. I'm not a prude neither am I overly liberal.
But I almost freaked out when he said that.
But cleverly, Adel did not wait for my response. He quickly quipped "joking, mummy, joking".
To which I replied: "Must be that James Bond movie you watched on dvd. Martini?"
(Not beer, not wine...but martini. So James Bond. Shaken and not stirred, I bet!)

I remember discussing the subject of love with Bapak. Not when I was 18. But after I had got married.

For several years before I got married, the subject of "love and marriage" was hardly one that I relished discussing with Bapak because, during that time I was in a very complicated relationship.
I found it so uncomfortable everytime the subject cropped up -- like when a relative or someone close to us, was going through a bad patch in her marriage.

That day, Adel actually asked me a very simple question.

"What is the right age to fall in love?"

After I got myself composed and collected, I attempted to answer him with something like, "there's no right age to fall in love." Which was not quite the answer I wanted to give.

"I can fall in love now?", he asked.

"Yes....I mean no, I mean yes....you're still studying, Adel", I replied, a little panicky.

"I am 18, mummy. How old were you when you fell in love?", he asked, kind of challenging me to tell the truth.

"Twenty-three, after I graduated and a year after I started working", I said. Technically that was the truth.

It was a rather difficult conversation because I did not like probing questions from my son so there was a lot of evasiveness and elusiveness on my part. I gave him very generalised and vague answers.
It was easier when he asked me about girls.
I thought he'd done okay since he was "on the right track".

Sometime in 2006 when he was in form 4, Adel began jogging and swimming frequently and played soccer, basketball and tennis regularly and seriously. He continued doing all this through form 5 although that was his (major) exam year.

I never asked him why and thought nothing of it. I was, for one, very happy that he was keeping fit.

During one family gathering at Bapak's or Kak Olin's, I overheard his conversation with an older male cousin (or was it an uncle?).
The conversation touched on games and sports and about Adel's interest and participation in them. It was an animated discussion.
At one point I heard Adel say, rather casually , "that's how you get the girls in college".
"Girls like guys who play games and sports", Adel had remarked.

I was stumped. He was keeping fit and playing all those games to get the girls in college?
Where did he get that idea?
He's not really wrong. Not entirely right, either. But that's so American teen movies. So superficial.

I remember butting in and said: "Adel, brawn is not everything. It's what's inside that counts!"

I don't know whether that escaped him. He seemed to have been taken aback by his mummy 's interruption and said nothing.

Well, he seems to be on the right track. Who am I to argue that attraction is physical first. When everything else is mutual, the rest will fall in place, fits snugly and nicely.

That Sunday, he asked me whether his Datuk or Andung had ever given me advice on falling in love.
I said yes. But I did not say whether I had ever listened to their advice.

"What was the best advice Datuk had ever given you?".
Ok.. there's no such thing as best advice.

"Not about love. I suppose on marriage and I suppose it applies to relationships," I said.
On one occasion, when Bapak was discussing someone's marital problem, he advised us that whenever we "gaduh dengan suami", to "never push him to the wall."
"Leave him room to act and react." Something to that effect.

I don't think Adel could relate to this just yet.

What about Andung, Adel asked.

"Mmmmm. Not to love your husband more than he loves you."

Adel's eyes blinked.

Never mind, Adel. That one is seriously for the girls. But, I'll remember to dish out to you some good (haha) advice when you are in a serious relationship. And that's nowhere in the foreseeable future.

Besides....I think Andung's advice is easier said than done.


aisyah said...

assalamualaikum kak ena,

i enjoy reading your post. it can somehow gives remedy ;). same goes to your Bapak poems. owh, i did adore your Bapak so much. sent my regard to him ya? i met him twice, in deklamasi angkasapuri and last Friday in K.L. Sentral when he was about to go home. and we had a short but memorable conversation that make me so bersemangat to keep writing and of course i want to meet him again.

regarding the post,it is so true what your Bapak and the Andung said. love is so subjective.it is pure. and i think Adel wants to berjinak - jinak with love when he asked you some question on that. Young man always eager to know more on life and love.

aisyah ;)

Dhahran Sea said...

Salam Nuraina,
Getting & trying to answer that "love" question from Adel is not an easy one... I dread having to answer similar question, which will eventually come from my eldest daughter Nur Elissa who's doing her law foundation now... could be sooner than I would be prepared for... take care & selamat mengundi.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

Hey its true, jocks are chick-magnet!

Anonymous said...

oh oh. I think aisyah you must have met the other Pak Samad, Samad Said. Not Pak Samad Ismail.

Mat Salo said...

Love, what is love? Lust and sex dear, this is what makes the world goes round and the mattress springs go slack... He...

Just read an interesting piece in TIME about the biological aspect. Know how when meeting someone this elusive thing called "chemistry" comes into play? But biologist claims that the real deal starts when the kiss is initiated... Specifically when the tongues go probing and fluids are exchanged. Scientist have isolated the chemical - MHC or something - that is present in the saliva, and the respective bodies starts (subconsciously of course) analyzing the MHC for compatibility issues... If ok, the body says alright, this is a good prospect for long term (marriage) and instruct the brain the release the feel-good endorphins which we call love.

But don't tell Adel this. He-he..

A Kiss I Just A Kiss...

Anonymous said...

When I finally married ....my brother told me this , " Should your husband ever ever punch you ........leave him and come home . I never hit you ...nor did father ...so what right does another man do that ? ". I have not gone home ...alhamdulillah

SO when my daughter asked me why did I choose to marry her father .....I was taken aback and did not quite know how to answer ........

elviza said...

Kak Ena,

Profoundingly deep.

*lost for words*

aisyah said...

am i ? hehe

zaitgha said...

my time for this would come soon enough...with 3 boys in the house

take care Nuraina and i will mengundi di Setapak this Saturday....cant wait

ms hart said...

Kak Ena, my lil' king is only 5+ but he's already asking me about girls and love!!! He even told me whom he wanted to marry!! ha ha ha...taste boleh tahan pulak tu!!wah wah wah....anyway, of course his curiosity has not reached Adel's level. So maknye pun masih boleh tergelak-gelak jawab all his questions! Well, like you said, phewwhhh...legaaaa...at least he's on 'the right track'!!!

Selamat mengundi, Kak Ena!

Azmi said...

Hi Ena, sounds like exciting times ahead for you and Adel..good luck! Sorry for going off topic here but I was thrilled to find an old newspaper cutting in a cookery scrapbook kept since my student days. It is a recipe for BAMIA that came out in 1993 (NST Feb 25)! It was Pak Samad's recipe and it sounds tres, tres delicious! Apparently it is your family's favourite dish and he would be the one cooking it. The day I am off my meat "pantang", I am definitely giving it a try!!The article was put together by Juneita Johari..and I still have it 15 years later....

kbguy said...

it's easier to handle the boys than the girls..on this matter. Probably I am the father..haha..

But now, I have more headache. SPM results coming out soon and which school to go after that..It seems like I am the one strugling more for them than them for themselves !


aisyah: thank you, aisyah. you are yourself very artistic.
anyway, as someone pointed out, my dad is not A Samad Said.

you are young, aren't you? i think you are just 2 years older than Adel..
I feel so old. hahaa
u are right...adel nak berjinak2 dengan cinta..

take care!

dhahran: she's a good kid, eh? but, i'm sure she'll find every exuse to delay telling you anything.
but, all the best, anyway...

kerp: really?

anon@8:48am: thanks

mat salo: adoi, brother...kena censor-lah. haha...

anon@10:01am: we get into that kind of situation...wish you luck in responding to your daughter.

elviza: hmmm...which part is deeply profound? i mean profoundly deep>

zai: adoi! 3 boys? memang lah terror you nanti.

I mengundi in PJ.

mshart: wow...starts early, doesnt he? so cute...

happy voting to you too!

azmi: i remember that.... wow... 1973!

kbguy: yep...the hazards of parenthood!

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

you bet!

aisyah said...

oh ya! hehe.. so i should call you mama Ena ok?

Dear mama Ena,

i now know that ur Bapak is not A Samad Said.what kind of mistakes i made here??? malu!!! hehe.. but anyway, i also do know A Samad Ismail! really! and of course,this is not a confession to cover the rasa malu, tau. if im not mistaken, he is somebody in PAP,People's Action Party right? i learnt about it when i was in school.

so...sory mama Ena for the mistakes and send my regard to Adel ok? selamat berkenalan dengan cinta, Adel!;)


kerp: I believe you!

aisyah: hmmm....mama ena. SOunds ok.
anyway, aisyah...many people make the mistake you did about my father.
i'm used to it so its ok.
and i will certainly send yr salam..

thanks for visiting and take care.