Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tea with friends

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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Edward said...

That was a nice chat over a cup of tea indeed!
I agree with Tina to a great extend, I think marriage shouldn't be viewed from an aspect of "fashion" of some sort or rushed to due to the ageing factor, but rather from the point of view of one's hapiness. An ideal marriage should be one where all parties are satisfied obviously cannot be 100% but there must be a point of equilibrium that depicts equity for the partners.

maria said...

i am in full agreement with Tina, it is worth the wait. I did the traditional thing and luckily got out of it amicably, most people don't.
After a long single period I did meet a soulmate completely by accident, it happens when you least expect it to.
Also, if you want a partner to share your life with, s/he needs to ehance your existence and not hinder your development.
Take Tina's advice and we would have happier children too

Kass said...

What a great post! At this stage in my life, I am so happy to be single (after 2 really abusive marriages). The last 2 years of my life have been the most sane and happy. I wouldn't mind sharing my life with a significant other, but I will be fulfilled and content no matter what.

Gabriela Abalo said...

Sadly for many, marriage is just one more target to be achieved in life… if you reach your 40s single you are considered a failure despite all your other life achievements. People should marry for the right reasons: love and that feeling of wanting to share your life with that “someone”.
Thank u Edu.

Gabriela Abalo said...

Thank u dear Maria for sharing your personal experience with us. I totally agree with you, the one we choose to share our life with, should be someone who brings the best of ourselves to light.


Gabriela Abalo said...

Thank u dear Kass for sharing your personal experience with us. I always say: “rather alone that in bad company”. Abusive relationships are not healthy at all (for both parties involved), so we must get the strength to walk away from them. I’m glad to know you did it (twice!) and now you are finding yourself in a happier place. I wrote a story about an abusive relationship “The man of the house”, please have a look at it.


Sherry said...

Great topic and one that I am close to. My very good friend is 34 and unmarried and without a significant other. She feels the invisible pressures as she hangs out with her friends who are married and have children. Most of her friends are the opposite of the women in your story, they are very supportive and tell her to enjoy her single status. But she feels like an outcast because she is not sharing the same experiences as her friends. It is challenging also because she would like to have children. I agree that self-love is the most important thing, but it is hard being in that position.

Thanks Gabi,

Gabriela Abalo said...

It is true that is tough to be alone but it is tougher to be with someone we do not love or does not love us. I think at the end what really matters is what make us happy: doing what the rest think is the best for us or doing what we think is the best for us... the good thing is that we do always have a choice.
We all want to be in a good healthy relationship, that is our human nature but sometimes that is not possible, then we shall focus on all the other great things surrounding us… by sure the moment we focus on something else LOVE will strike at once ;-)
Marrying because it is time to do so is definitely not a good base to start a good healthy relationship – but that is just my observation…

Thanks dear Sherry for your touching comment


Kass said...

Gabriela - I appreciate your comment because although I wrote this account, I do not harbor any resentment toward either of my parents. I wrote another post about remembering being tied to the slats of my
crib , but I can't be talked into feeling aghast about any of it. It just happened and there were plenty of good things to counter-balance the experimenting my parents did in child discipline.
I just read "The Man Of The House," and it is very powerful. Are your stories autobiographical? You seem to be so young for so much wisdom and life experience. Is Portuguese your native language? How is it you write so well in English?

Gabriela Abalo said...

dear Kass – thanks for your feedback and all the questions :)
So far, the stories are not autobiographical, even though I write as if I’m the one going through the situation. I spent many years observing the world around me and criticizing everything that was different from what I expected it to be, until the day I realized that my negative attitude was taking me nowhere and decided to do something about it. I then started to try to wear the person shoes …. only then I understood the key of the matter: that everything happens for a reason and that there are no accidents in life. With the change of approach I also learnt about unconditional love and to accept responsibility to whatever happened to me. The other step was to give others the same treatment, love them for who they are and respect their opinions, life choices, since they are living their life and not mine.
Through my stories I’m trying to reflect that and therefore give readers the chance to wear the “character” shoes and embrace him/her for who he/she is. I firmly believe that if we apply this to everything we do we will achieve a peaceful, lovely world.
I’m an Uruguayan by birth and a world citizen by choice ;-)
My mother tongue is Spanish and English is my spiritual tongue


Sports Pa Zed said...

Tea with friends…I liked reading this as it is true of many girls I personally know…who got duped in to marriage cause of the false traditional security it offers, the prestige of being Mrs X. In this country its not so much the spending the rest of your life with your friend and partner. It’s the status that comes with being called bana X (Mothers of X). The story touches on a real unspoken reality of why women get married in Zambia. You are more of an person if you are married and less of a person if you are not. It’s a sad realty. I feel sometimes that women’s liberation never came to Zambia. That is why we have no real sense of who we are and what our real potential is. We have boxed ourselves in this traditional wifely role and there is nothing more we can do. This is a topic I have not seen being touched on. But the again I don’t read too much of the local print media.

Gabriela Abalo said...

@ Sports Pa Zed,
there are so many things that are done, because they "have to" be done.
We need to start following our heart and be proud of who we are, even if the rest of the world disagrees with that.

Love your contribution to the blog.
Keep coming back.