Wednesday, 6 May 2009 @ 4.49pm
Week One: Kursus Kahwin
A friend of mine told me that the fee for the kursus kahwin (which is mandatory by law) would be increased from its current rate of RM80 to a ridiculous RM300+ (per person!!). Eddie and I won’t be getting married till next July (if all goes well), but the thought of having to fork out RM300+ each was enough to make us apply for leave on a Saturday and Sunday almost immediately.
Day One - Saturday
The course didn’t start till 2.30pm. So Eddie decided that we go look at fabric for the dress that I’d be wearing for the engagement. We went to the heart of the city and didn’t know where to start. Every corner you turned there were people handing out flyers and discount after discount and people handing out flyers… We finally went into Jakel – a three-storey haven of cotton, silk, linen and lace.
Entering, the staff was littered at every nook and cranny of the store that was already packed with people. I told them I wanted fabric for my engagement and was led to the third floor. I wanted everything. While I was busy looking at the fabric and lace and mixing and matching with the store assistant, Eddie had sneaked off to the ‘men’s corner’. When it was time to pay, I found him sleeping at the couch.
We had a quick lunch at Wangsa Maju before heading straight for the centre. There were already other couples waiting in the sitting area. There was also a group of friends (four girls and three boys) who were busy giggling at every single thing in sight. I immediately guessed that of the seven, there was probably a couple while the rest came to accompany them. (Later that day when the Ustaz were asking the men which ones their partners were, only one admitted to being a couple while the rest just giggled. I was right.)
After registering, Eddie and I went into the room where the course would take place over the day and a half. The seats were split into two sections – men and women – with an aisle down the middle. We sat at the back row next to the aisle and were an arm’s length away from each other. In other words, ‘next’ to each other.
I was already expecting boredom for the next four and a half hours. But instead, I got a lesson instead. Whatever the Ustaz was going on about, I either agreed with (since I’d already experienced it), or thought ‘Ohhhh!’ (because only then did I understand why Eddie behaved the way he does sometimes). They explained the differences between men and women, our roles as husbands and as wives, our roles as siblings and children, and if God is willing, our roles as fathers and mothers. Luckily, the two Ustaz for the day were interactive with us, the audience, which just made the time pass by faster.
Day Two: Sunday
I’d already warned Eddie the night before that we had to get up early because the course would be starting at 8.45am. I told him not to watch TV till the early hours of the morning. But did he listen? Of course not. It’s a good thing I insisted on him staying at my place. By the time I managed to get him off the couch it was already 8.15am. Luckily, it’s KL, meaning nothing ever starts on time.
When we reached, it was almost 9am. But the centre hadn’t even opened yet. We sat in the car and drank cold tin coffee and ate buns on the go. There were other couples from the day before sitting in the two cars on our left and right.
Eddie was really dreading this full-day course. He was sleepy and grumpy, but kept making faces at me so I’d smile instead of giving him the evil eye. The first half of the day went by fairly quickly. They spoke about communication between husband and wife, and how to treat each other’s families once we’d tied the knot. Being that most doubled as counselors at the Jawi or Jakim or whatever the place is called, they spoke a lot from their own experiences, or conveyed special cases from their clients.
At 12.30pm, the second Ustaz for the day bid his goodbye and we opened the door to packets of rice waiting to be devoured. Eddie and I settled on the couch in front of the TV and ate. The centre was three floors up, minus the elevator. We didn’t even bother going downstairs.
The first part of the second half saw our first and only Ustazah. She was also the bore of every course – the one that everyone dreads. Her topic focused on women’s role in the Islamic view, as well as in the reality view of life. For the first time in the many hours we’ve had to sit through, everyone was getting restless. I was trying hard to fight off sleep. But my eyelids were heavy. So I kept shifting positions, or kept sipping on water. I looked to my right, and an arm’s length away…was Eddie asleep…and drooling on his shirt! I was horrified. There was no way I could get up and wake him. The Ustazah was oblivious to everything around her. I didn’t know whether to be embarassed or angry. One of the giggly idiots from the front caught sight of Eddie and told her giggly idiotic friends. They turned and giggled upon seeing him. I saw red. No one laughs at my man.
I tried sms-ing him. In his sleep, he merely tried to push the vibrating phone that was in his pocket that was irritating him. I was just afraid that he would start talking in his sleep. I kept on watching him, ready to distract everyone should he start talking in his sleep. I had a plan and I wasn’t afraid to do it to protect my man. Luckily, as though his body had sensed it, he woke up ten minutes short of the end. He looked at me with his red eyes and smiled a sheepish smile. I mouthed to him to go wash his face. He just mouthed back, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine.’
During our ten-minute break before the final Ustaz, Eddie was energetic and fully awake (thanks to his nap) and I was grumpy and tired and pulling a face. Thank God the final Ustaz was not a boring pain in the ass. He spoke about health. He was interesting, interactive, funny and very informative. He also kept picking on me. He called me ‘orang Datuk Keramat’. He asked me about my diet, and my exercise regime, and my sleeping habits. But that was fine. At least it kept me alert enough not to sleep.
When the course was over, it was nearly dusk. We were bored, tired and hungry. And we were both irritated with each other. But we both felt we learnt something from it. I learnt that men express their love and care differently from women. They show they care by working hard, which also means spending less time with us >(. Women show their care and affection by taking care of their men and by nurturing them. Eddie admitted to me that he likes that I’ve started organising his life. He used to ignore everything or just dealt with it when it happened, but he said now there’s order in his life :)
Week Two: Two Accidents
The first one: He wasn’t moving…
I had gone to Dataran Prima then Damansara Jaya before making my way back to KL to another client’s office at The Nomad in Pavilion. I was driving, listening to the radio and just chilling. I was slowing to a stop at the traffic light which would turn to Jalan Yap Kwan Seng. If I had gone straight, then that would lead me to my office.
As I was nearing to a stop, I saw some men stopping to the left of my lane and getting off their bikes. The cars were also slowing down. As I got closer, I gasped in surprise when I saw a man, around my age or a little older, lying motionless on the ground. His head was split open and an island of blood was growing bigger on the ground. I started shrieking to myself in the car. He wasn’t moving. A man was hunched in front of him, probably trying to see if he’s ok. Others were standing around while some took the opportunity to direct traffic, all in the effort of making sure cars don’t run over him. I rolled down my window and heard them saying that he was hit by a car and the car drove off. He wasn’t moving…
I was paralysed for a moment. Every day I see bodies in the newspapers. But it’s different when it’s right there in front of you. He wasn’t moving. I contained my tears, told myself to calm down, and drove on to see my client.
The second one: She was in pain…
I’d just finished work and was on my way to see Eddie for an early dinner. It was a rare day where we both finished work before 7pm. The sun was still up and traffic was smooth. I was nearing my destination when I saw commotion on the opposite side of the road. I saw a bike that was turned upside down, and an elderly Chinese man trying to turn it over.
I drove slowly by and saw slippers on the ground. And another bike, smashed. I saw her face. She was in pain, barely conscious. Her boyfriend was dragging her to the side of the road. As I drove slowly on, I saw in my rear view mirror her feet as her boyfriend laid her on the ground.