I have a friend, lets call her Kate. We are close, but there's always a barrier between us that cannot be broken. She built it and she guards it.
Kate is a person who has many groups of friends, but unlike me, she keeps them separated. I still remember how I used to get hurt because she liked to leave me behind when she had plans with her other friends. The thing is, I had nobody else at that time, so sometimes, I felt lonely when she did this. I told myself that I cannot become her bestfriend, because a bestfriend won't treat you like this. (Besides, I don't believe in having a bestfriend, I don't like to rate my friends and label who's best or second best, it's childish.)
Now that we are back on our motherland, I don't mind her doing it at all. I am not lonely anymore, yeay!
We are still keeping in touch and I mostly know what she has been up to. But a recent event made her keep a distant from the rest of us. You see, Kate is now seeing someone who doesn't like it when she tells too much. And we respect that.
One of Kate's sibling got married. Our friend, Jack, questioned why we weren't invited. When Jack's brother got married, he invited us to come, when Ivy's sister got married, we attended the wedding. It's what friends do. Jack thinks it's odd.
Since I was the 'closest' to Kate, they came to me to ask, but I wasn't invited either.
Serena: Do you think she forgot to invite us?
Me: She must have a reason not to invite. Oh, you know Kate. She always has secrets and all...
Serena: Yeah, I know. She and her secrets.
Me: Did you see the wedding photos?
Serena: I did.
Me: Did you see anything different?
Serena: Like what?
Me: Do you know how we always suspect that she has more family members than she told us? It's confirmed. Maybe that's why she didn't let us come. She doesn't want us to know.
Why did we have that kind of suspicion? It's like a jigsaw puzzle, to have to put all pieces together to see the bigger picture.
Our friend, Fatin, who was like a sister to Kate, always complained that she couldn't view Kate's photos in Facebook. Fatin lives abroad, so, it was important for her that she was being updated regarding our activities because she wouldn't want to be left behind.
Kate told me, the reason she keeps them private is because her aunts and uncles are on Facebook too. Sometimes, her friends tag inappropriate pictures of her, so she doesn't want the elderly to see them.
The two of them are no longer talking to each other, but that's a different story altogether.
Now, that I've seen her brother's wedding photos, via her sister's Facebook page, (because I can't view photos on her page, remember) I begin to understand.
Their cousin, tagged Kate and her siblings, and also, some other boys and girls who happen to have similar names and their father has the same name, too, all wearing the same colour baju kurung and baju melayu.
That's the downside of naming your children Nurul Atikah, Nurul Afikah, Nurul Asyafikah, Nurul Athirah, Mohd Ikmal, Mohd Iqbal, Mohd Irfan, Mohd Ifran etc.
When I first met Kate, I thought she was just like me, coming from an average family.
Me: I think the government should give scholarships to deserving students. Sometimes, even though the kid is smart, gotten all As and everything, but if his or her family could afford it, why would they be given a scholarship? Better give it to someone who is smart AND poor, so the kid can improve his or her life, right? I really hate those who use their family connections just to get a scholarship when it's so clear that they don't even need it.
Kate: No, I don't think so. As long as that person is smart, he or she should be granted with a scholarship.
Me: But that's unfair. The government couldn't give scholarships to just everyone. Besides, rich people always have the advantages to be better than the poor students in term of studies. They can go to tuitions and they don't have to walk to go to schools, they study in schools where the good teachers are...
A few weeks after we landed in the foreign country, I found out her father transferred a 5-figure number worth of RM into her bank account, reserved only for travels, leisures and emergencies.
No wonder she was so offended.
Kate: We have to make sure my sister get a scholarship.
Me: Why? Your father can afford it even if she didn't get it.
Kate: Ectopy, I come from a big family. Even though my father is rich, tapi I banyak adik beradik.
Me: What do you mean? He only has 6 children! (And he still gives you guys thousands of ringgit per person, per month!)
Kate always tells us that she has 2 sisters and 3 brothers.
Sometimes, there will be extra people in the house. Who are they? The answers would always be different.
Sometimes, it would be, "These are my cousins."
Some other times,
"This is my Adik." Eh, but I thought you said you have 3 brothers?
"Memanglah." So, who is this?
"My Adik." Wait, your brothers are Ikmal, Iqbal and Irfan, right? So, who is this again? How many brothers do you have?
"...(change topic)..." Wait, I am still confused!
Some people just don't know when to stop. (Slaps forehead)
Kate was obviously uncomfortable, but my blur friend just had to demand for an explanation.
One time, was even funnier.
Haliza: Hello, little boy, who are you?
Boy: I am Boy, Kate's brother.
Haliza: Kate, I didn't know you have another brother.
Kate: No, he's not. He's my cousin.
Haliza: But, why is he saying he's your brother then?
Kate: I don't know. But he's not my brother. (Nervous laugh)
I think Kate secretly knows that I know her secret and she must be very glad because I give her privacy. Come on, pandai-pandailah, kita pun dah besar, she will talk about when she is ready. If she doesn't want to tell, why ask further?
Maybe that's why I am the closest to her. I understand without her having to tell.
Kate ni pun satu hal jugak.
She comes from a very tight family. She gets along very well with her step-siblings.
I mean, I see the 'cousins', 'adik angkat' and 'extra sisters and brothers' all the time in her house.
But why does she have to hide this kind of things? Is it still a taboo in our society?
It's not uncommon nowadays, and there's nothing to be ashamed of.
My other friends talk very openly about their fathers second and third wives, how they prefer one over the other, or how they hate their stepmom but loves their step siblings...
I think it will be less burdening for Kate if she just admits. The thing is, it's difficult to admit when you've been dodging the issue for very long.
In the August issue of majalah Perempuan, or was it Wanita (?), there are two articles about poligamy.
It's amazing how I can loathe one family, and love the other one, even though both family practice polygamy.
The one that I hate is an Ustadz who married 4 women, each staying in a different state, one even lives in Australia. Apa dia ingat perempuan perempuan ni hotel? Tempat persinggahan? How can you be fair when your wives are so far from you at a time. How can you keep track of your children? So, you leave your wives to manage everything on their own lah! There's not even tolong menolong sesama madu concept in this marriage!
Lepas tu nak berbangga dalam majalah pulak. Please lah!
The one who lives in Australia, quoted, "Rasa seronok sangat sebab dapat bersama abang beraya ke rumah-rumah madu saya, pusing-pusing satu Malaysia." You are so immature!
The other one is about an Ustadz with 3 wives. He married the first wife because her father approached him to take care of his daughter, he agreed. Then, he married the second and third wives because the first wife suggested it to him, even tolong meminang them for him.
And...The second and third wives are janda, people who were wrongly treated during their first marriages. And both of them are medical doctors.
Now, this sounds much better, right!
My cousin came to Mother's house for a Raya visit.
Cousin: Oh, my God!
Cousin: This woman, she approached my friend to marry her husband.
Cousin: She wants the Golden Umbrella.
Me: The what?!
Cousin: She wants the Payung Emas God promises to give in Heaven, if you live peacefully with your husband and his other wives.
Me: Oh. Why she didn't approach you then?
Cousin: Because, I am not good enough for her husband. Dia nak orang-orang tudung labuh je...
3 hours ago