Sayang,

 

Now that we’ve welcome you into the family, please let me say a word or two. 

 

First and foremost, it would be nice if you could excuse my uncles’…erm…behaviour…towards you. From some outsider’s point of view, they, or we, are probably a bunch of bullies, but I can assure you that we’re not.

 

I’ll tell you why, and how.

 

From past experience, I decided to forewarn you that you will have to scrub and wash the big pots after the reception ceremony has ended. That is, after our family members have packed all the leftover yummy food to be eaten tomorrow as none of us would have the energy to cook.

 

So now I can hear them telling you to make sure the pots from today’s cooking are clean.

 

No, I’m not going to object to that. The most that I’m going to do for you is tell them that “we’ll do it first thing tomorrow morning.”

 

I’m pretty sure that for the next few weeks, they may find things for you to do. For instance, help light up the barbeque fire, be the bilal during tahlil, or if they see fit, you may be asked to be the imam for our prayers and monthly tahlil. You may also be the person who will need to carry pots, plates and carpets from one house to another during our monthly family event. Maybe change the lightbulbs, clean the dinner table, sweep the gazebo floors, mow the lawn, sweep the dry leaves, pick the durians. No, you’re not going to do that alone. My friendly but sometimes not so talkative young male cousins will do that with you. They will show you where the stuff are, or who to ask for the stuff. 

 

Of course, Adib will find a way to follow you wherever you go, dig out some of your (and our) secrets, tell you gross jokes, pull your leg once in a while. 

 

I know some men can’t take it. I know for a fact that some ran to their parents and tell them “her father and uncles made me do this and that…such bullies..” 

 

I know, my dear.

 

That’s why I need to tell you the reasons behind their never ending orders (that, if you notice, come with laughter).

 

You know as junior doctors we were ordered to do so many things. We were the ones who see the patients first, take their bloods, set IV lines, run to the lab when it’s urgent, call other teams to review our patients, speak to the radiologist and anaesthetists…the list goes on and on. We all understand that it was done that way so we will be orientated into the workings of a hospital, what’s important and what’s not. The training is handed down every year, to every house officer that comes along. 

 

The same goes to our family.

 

You may have noticed by now that my father has 10 siblings, my mother 11. On my father’s side I have close to 40 cousins, and many of them are as close as my own siblings. It sure is daunting to get to know their names; it doesn’t help that some of them look alike. So helping us out, carrying things from one house to another, is a way to get to know all of us. 

 

We also need to know (although it’s a bit too late now you’re married to me) whether you’re the responsible type or not. Whether you’re going to leave me behind when times get rough, or are we going to hold hands and face the world together. Whether you’re the kind of person who will try to get to every family event, or use “on call” as an excuse for you not coming because you just hate to see all those bullies. 

 

Really. 

 

Maybe you weren’t family before the ceremony, but you ARE after the ceremony. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong in helping everyone out cleaning the place up after such an event, although ours is probably the smallest. It’s not like my mother is asleep in the room up to the afternoon, or my father carried away with his laptop. You see everyone’s doing something. 

 

The most important thing is, we do want to like you. Me included, although we’re married, we need to grow, you see. 

 

We do care about you. You should worry if everyone decided to ignore you, not joke around or laugh when you’re around. The thing about us is we love to joke around and “kacau” others quite a bit, but we wouldn’t do it towards someone we don’t like.

 

Well, actually we might ignore you in the end, once we’re comfortable with you because that’s when we’re comfortable enough to just sit in silence without it being awkward. That will come way later. 

 

Oh, furthermore, you’ll have some other new cousins coming along. Their turns will come too. 

 

So, sayang, welcome to this huge family of Milatu.

 

Don’t worry about the hard work, we ARE a family, we love to get together a lot, and there’s a lot of hard work to do here. It’s not like we want to use up your energy for our own good, as a family we need to stick together and help each other. I’m pretty sure that’s the kind of family that you’d want to build with me, right? Hence the process starts with us being helpful and useful ourselves.

 

It’s not like I’m going to sit around like a queen well, unless you told me to. 😉 

I’ll be in the kitchen preparing a hot butter cake for you and everyone, with teh tarik or coffee. Or would you want some high fibre, high protein and high GI sandwich? That Starbucks instant coffee to come with it? Or just a few pieces of Jacob’s cream crackers? 

 

Anything for you, my dear.

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