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.