What do single women do?When I was 10, I was engrossed in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Malory Towers and Secret Sevens to bother about what other people thought of me. Too intent on escaping the sorrow and tension that permeated the house to care if my only companions were the characters in the books I treasured. My constant thought that became a mantra to be chanted whenever I was sad, ‘I don’t care. I don’t need anything else.’
When I was 13, I was constantly reminded and threatened by my mother, who had heard too many slightly exaggerated stories from my aunt about girls who forsaken their studies to be enamoured with boys and dropped out of school to work in shopping malls and supermarkets, not to be caught going out with a boy, otherwise suffer the consequences.
Personally, even at that age, I couldn’t understand why someone would forsake their studies for something as fleeting as love or romance. For haven’t I seen in the example of my parents’ failed marriage, that it doesn’t last forever, that it doesn’t end with ‘Til death do us part’? I told myself, I would never be like that, I would never be so foolish, I would not need anything as transient as love. For who could guarantee love? ‘No, I don’t need it. All I need are my books and myself.’
When I was 15, I was preoccupied with struggling through secondary school in a foreign country with no true friend, before I found my true friend, my kindred spirit. The locals didn’t quite like my fierce countenance, my indomitable spirit flashing at those who dared make things difficult for me. Even when they whispered behind and in front of me about my ‘tiger-eyes’, I told myself that it didn’t matter. ‘I don’t care what they say about me.’
When I was 18, I was trying to come to terms that while I have the occasional respite from the trials of life, that I still had to continually adjust my expectations to life and life’s expectation of me at every corner I take. Getting the right paper qualification was of utmost importance, nothing else. Relationships did not feature in my list of priorities, not even as an afterthought. Throughout my puberty years, my mother had continually issued warnings and threats of having a relationship while I was still studying. But she need not have done so, for in truth, I found living with her more challenging and intimidating than anything else. And I must admit, she scared me into not even considering one. I even let go the possibility of one when I was 14.
But if a small nagging voice told me that one day I would think about relationships, I ignored it and instead chanted my mantra of childhood, ‘I don’t need it. All I need are my books and myself.’
When I was 21, life was full of too many things happening at the same time. College work, money struggles, family troubles. I didn’t have the time to think of anything else. But at this time, relatives started arriving on the horizon, demanding to know if I had a relationships. All of which I managed to remain politeness and civility, by maintaining that I didn’t need one. I affected a bravado, a kind of spinsterish stance that I didn’t need men to fulfil my life. And I didn’t. The most important man in my life had let me down. I didn’t need them. My mantra since then – ‘I don’t need men.’
Throughout my early 20s, I managed to maintain that attitude, with no wavering, or doubt. My mantras of ‘All I need are my books and myself’ and ‘I don’t need men’ were strong and very affirmative.
But lately it has been becoming fainter and less discernable.
Today as I am approaching my 29th year, I am disconcerted to discover that whenever I meet my gurlfrens, the topic of the evening is mostly about the sad state of singlehood, the sad state of having failed relationships, the sad state of not being able to find the right companion and the even sadder state of loneliness.
Last night the conversation almost started with thus, and never changed, even till the moment we parted. And the dinner I had last week with another gurlfren was similar.
I admit that today I am constantly thinking of when I will be able to find someone, but, I never expected to find that it is uppermost in most of my gurlfrens’ minds, and that it is what we would be conversing about mostly. I am extremely horrified. And I wonder, is this all we are going to talk about? Because if it is, I think I will meet them less!
We haven’t come to the depressing stage yet, because all of us are very much occupied with work. Work still consumes our mind. But it is the lonely nights, the time in-between during traffic jams and waiting for an appointment, that it creeps up on you. But we are handling it, because we are sort of resigned to not being able to be lucky enough to find someone in the near future. After all, men are even more consumed with their careers than us women.
So I sit here at my computer, typing out my thoughts and reflections on this state of singlehood, experienced not just by me, but shared not probably a lot of working young women in KL, like me. Apparently PJ has the highest number of single women in Malaysia, or was it Asia?
“You should write a book about this, Jen,” said a gurlfriend last night.
Easy to say, but do I really want to write about this depressing topic, and make money out of tons of lonely women out there at the same time, who probably would use my book as a doorstopper when they see the seemingly futile situation for us KL women in the first few pages?
Nah, I’ll just pound in frustration at my keyboard and post it on my blog, with the most optimistic of hopes that one day, one day, I’ll be typing a different note in the near future.
Is there hope at all, you ask. Well, while the sun still shines, the moon still smiles her elusive and secretive smile, and the rivers flow, that is all we poor single women can do.
That, and also, sing 'Alfie'.
What's it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind, Alfie
then I guess it's wise to be cruel
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie
what will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there's a heaven above, Alfie
I know there's something much more
something even non-believers can believe in
I believe in love, Alfie
Without true love we just exist, Alfie
Until you find the love you've missed you're nothing, Alfie
When you walk let your heart lead the way
and you'll find love any day, Alfie