Thursday, July 29, 2004

“So when are you getting married?”

Was the question posed by all who I have met recently. It has since joined the rank of everyday questions like “Chi1 bao3 le4 mei2 you3?” (Translated: Have you eaten?), “The weather is fine today eh?”, “So what have you been doing lately?”, “Jia1 li3 sheng1 ji3 ge4 xiao3 gou3 liao3?” (Translated: How many puppies have your dog given birth to?)

I swear it is a relishing sight for all my friends to scrutinize my expressionless face upon hearing that question.

First it was Evan. But that gal has been asking me that question ever since year 1 in NUS. “When are you getting ROM-ed?” (ROM-ed is a new abbreviation coined by linking the present perfect tense suffix “-ed” to the abbreviation ROM, which all of you would have known, means the Registry of Marriage. This is actually ungrammatical. The Registry of Marriage is a noun and you cannot present-perfect-tense a noun. For example, you cannot have words such as “cabinetted”. You cannot say “Mr Lee Kuan Yew announced that he will be cabinetted in an advisory role when his son becomes Prime Minister on August 12”. Everyone is using ROM as a verb now and in this society, nobody cares much about grammar, not even an English major like Evan, especially when she gets all so excited about me getting ROM-ed.) She would pop that question constantly when we were on the bus, when we were chatting using scraps of paper during lectures, when we were in the midst of project discussion, when we were shopping, when we were looking at toys and pretty little kids’ clothes, when we were in the loo… … She simply can’t wait to attend a friend’s wedding dinner.

Then there was Cynthia, the mother of my godson. I visited her and my cute godson one fine day in May or June this year and she popped that question too. And then her confinement nanny had to enter the room and asked in mandarin if I was married. I was stumped. More of pleasantly stumped. On so many different occasions, people have asked if I was 18 or if I was from Poly. Some even thought I would have been in secondary school, if not for the colour of my hair (which often led to me cursing at these people silently.) Finally! I have someone asking me if I’m married. I don’t know if this calls for a celebration for looking my age. Anyway, while all these were whizzing through my jumbled mind, Cynthia answered in my stead. “Hai2 mei2 you3. Ke3 shi4 kuai4 yao4 jie2 hun1 liao3.” (Translated: Not yet, but going to.) She dictates my future for me!

Next, was kh’s group of friends. (I’ve since decided to revert back to typing “kh” as that is how I always address him in print, and also I feel that I have disgusted you people enough =P.) Different individuals from that group has asked the same question, all within a night’s outing. One of his friends even professed that since pilots do not need as much time as ordinary folks to be financially stable, they might just as well get married and have kids. The manner in which she uttered it in Mandarin was really hilarious. It sounded like it is a truth universally acknowledged that a pilot in possession of a girlfriend, must be in want of a wife and children. (If this sounds very familiar to you, it is because I parodied the infamous opening sentence of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.)

Recently, his pilot friends have been asking the same question too. They had this gathering at somebody’s place and the couple of the house has a very cute and highly intelligent 2-year-old son and a beautiful 9-month-old daughter. So while the mum was busy being a good hostess, I had to carry the baby girl constantly as only then will her crying cease. I even answered the door whenever the doorbell rang, armed with the baby and inviting shocked looks from his friends. All these happened with kh busying himself with “dry swimming” in the other room. Then, when the maid took over carrying the girl, I played with the cute and intelligent boy instead. He is soooooooo intelligent, he knows that dolphin is “hai3 tun2”, octopus is “ba1 jiao3 yu2”, crab is “pang2 xie” and lobster is “long2 xia1”. He is also a very obedient boy, very well brought up by his parents. Then finally at night, kh and me played with the boy, entertaining him with our kiddish antics and of course fuelling more of such questions from everybody in the house.

Not to mention, his granny, his uncles, his aunts, his cousins from both sides asked the same question too. Even his mum!

And yesterday while I was out with Charlene happily eating my lunch, she popped the same question. She asked it in such a matter-of-fact tone that I almost thought she was asking me if the food tastes good.

This question has since become commonplace in my world.


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