“Hey, Tina! When are you getting married? Haven’t you got anyone yet? Ha ha ha…” They all laugh and tease her, looking at Tina with sympathy and felling honestly sorry for her. She is the only single friend; a thirty-five years old woman who has never had a serious relationship. From their point of view she has failed as a woman!
Tina looks at the one inquiring and defiantly asks “Why are you asking? You all know my answer: I will not marry for the sake of getting married. I will marry the day I find Mr. Right and not a day early or later than that”. Monica looks at Tina with disbelief and sarcastically says: “Do you still believe in ferries? What you are asking for does not exist! Look at us and tell me if you see anything else than a bunch of thirty something women that are happy only when they are out of their houses…”
“Then why are all of you continuously bothering me with getting married? Telling me every time you have a chance that I’m getting old and the opportunities are fewer! I do not want to get married for the wrong reasons as many do! Why on earth I would want to follow those steps? If I see you all complaining all the time about your husbands and how fed up you all are with their chauvinist behavior.”
Teresa interrupts Tina saying: “Hey, hey marriage is like that, you are not supposed to love each other and live happy ever after, that only happens in the soaps and movies!” A unisonous laugh broke out of all them, except from Tina, she is sadly looking at all her friends, the ones that think that they know much better than anyone else. They have all achieved their goal: getting a husband, children and a big house. But Tina knows very well what lies underneath the façade…. Some cry at night when their husbands are out there drinking and partying with other girls. Others had become the breadwinners of their home while their husbands spend without concern. Many are getting sick from the careless promiscuous behavior of their partners; AIDS has become their darkest sin and secret.
Tina tries to control herself but despite all her efforts the words burst out of her mouth: “You are all educated and professional successful woman, who are able to financially walk away from your marriage any time. But you are afraid of being left alone and what others may say, that is keeping you prisoners of a life you dislike. When I ask you why you accept living like that and why are you tolerating your husbands’ adventures, your usual answer is: “This is the way is supposed to be. You will understand when you are married. Or - I can’t leave him our traditions and culture does not allow me to do that. He is the man and I must be there for him no matter what! You know what? I disagree with that, I did not follow our traditions; I refused when my parents tried to get me married and finally they accepted that I’m a happy person. Why can’t you do the same? Why can’t you be the captains of your life!
You are privilege as you have the option of standing for yourselves anytime and move on, but you choose otherwise. You are afraid of the unknown, of not finding anyone who loves you. You do not want to be accused by your families of neglecting your marriages by not following the traditions”.
“Tina, Tina… take it easy, do not talk so lightly about our traditions and culture, they are part of who we are as a society. They are our inheritance, our guides and rules, they have been there forever and we must comply with them” – Teresa said shaking her head with apprehension.
Tina quickly answers back: “I’m not refusing our traditions, I respect them but I take them for what they are, just traditions that were used long ago to ensure the survival of all the village members. But we do not live in villages any more, we have evolved, we are not the same as before, therefore the same rules can’t work unless they also evolve…”
Rita interrupts saying: “It is true times have changed and it is difficult to live up to the traditions, many times we wish we had known more before getting married about happiness and what marriage really is. But we also have to respect where we've come from. You know that the things we are taught as we grow up play an important part in the people we become, so if we see our mothers stuck it out in the marriage despite everything, then that’s the idea we have of marriage. Why are we going to be any different?
“As I said before, traditions are ok as long as they do not deprive us the freedom of being. The traditions are working for the man not for us. We are the ones to put our heads down and accept with resignation their unacceptable behavior. Why do you need to be at home with the children while he is partying with girls and drinking all your money? What if one day you decided you had enough of his cheatings and beatings and walked away from him? Why you have to allow your relatives to take you back to him? What happens with our happiness, don't we have a right to be happy too? Sorry, but I’m failing to understand that and I’m definitely not ready for it”
No one wants to answer Tina’s questions, so they all go back to their tea, pretending to be exited with the cake they are eating and the different tea flavors selections they have.
Tina gets annoyed and many times she wishes she can shake their friends so hard that they will come to their senses. Before she used to feel sorry for them, believing they were the victims and their husbands their abusers, but now she thinks differently. They allow fear to control their life while hiding behind the excuse of traditions.
They laugh at her because she is in search of love while risking missing her chance of getting married. Tina knows that love starts by loving oneself, that if you are not capable of that then none else can love you the way you disserve. She rather be alone than going through a life similar to her friends. Tina has a good job, a fantastic family and good friends, she is really happy and is not getting desperate to catch Mr. Right. That is not one of her life priorities at the moment. But she also knows that she must respect her friends’ decisions and the life they freely choose to live. It’s not up to her to decide what is right or wrong as she appreciates that we are not all the same. She also knows that her friends do not wish her bad; they really believe she will be happier having a man in her life… Quietly she smiles while mischievously thinking that probably they are right, but only if the man is the one!!
© 2009 Gabriela Abalo – Author
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