web counter The Madness of MokcikNab: The Good Wife
The Madness of MokcikNab
Motives, movements and melodrama in the life of a thirty something mum.

Monday, April 25, 2005
The Good Wife

When I was about four or five, all I wanted to be was a housewife. An uncle would ask me, "Bila besar nak jadi apa?", and I'd say, "surirumahtangga", without so much of a second thought. The adults would listen to my reply with dismay.

I figured that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom because my own mother wasn't the kind. Oh, she slaved over us, all right, and for that I shall be forever grateful, but she was also a teacher and I used to miss her in the afternoons. Besides, I get into fights with the maid when my mom isn't home, which in one instance, resulted in me attempting to run away. (I was five, I took all that I needed in a brown bag and got as far as the front gate)

I used to maintain my housewife ambitions until my mother told me it was the worst thing a woman could do (apart from selling yourself, but you know, at least you get cash).

"If you don't work", she pointed out, "then you'll be completely reliant on your husband".

Apparently, in pre-tai tai days, this is a Bad Thing, because women then have not yet discovered litigation. Seriously, though, this is sound advice. If there was one thing my mother taught me, apart from herring stitches, it was the need for a woman to be independent.

By the time I was a teenager, the idea of being a home-maker, or even somebody's wife, was totally unappealing. In the 80's, we didn't have Carrie Bradshaw, but we had Cosmopolitan magazine, and it fueled my visions of being a TV news producer (never a newscaster) and owning my own apartment, and being blissfully single. I thought I'd eventually marry at 32, and only because it would be necessary for procreation. I told my mother that I'll insist on a divorce as soon as I get enough children. I think she applauded.

But God had other plans, and they are always much better than what my puny mind could think of. After Form Five, I received a scholarship to read Law, and even though I still wanted to learn broadcast journalism, everyone said it was something I could do later. At 18, I met Saiffuddin, and with that, banished all thought of ever being footloose and fancy free.

We married when I was barely 22. We moved into a small apartment, which was lovingly decorated "country eclectic": moss green wooden floors we installed ourselves, second-hand armoires, huge re-upholstered sofas, junkyard cane armchairs painted white. We even had a cross-stitch picture of two bunnies over the bed, it was that pokey. There was so much lurve, that I was naturally inclined to revisit the surirumah idea again. For a brief period, I was one - I cleaned the house, did laundry, watered the plants, bought groceries, cooked dinner, made coffee. There was something calming about doing dishes on a quiet weekday morning. It was a feeling that all was right in the world, or at least, in this corner that you're in charge of.

Of course, it was bound not to last. I started working and the spic-and-span began to unravel. We only managed to keep the house clean long enough for Anjung Seri to photograph. Right now if you were to mention "Elida" and "housework" in one sentence, my husband would ask you to include the word "maid" in there, somewhere. I would love to do a Nigella and be a domestic goddess, but really, I don't have the patience nor the time. Besides, and here's the real 100% unadulterated truth : home-making is hard work and I'm terribly lazy. I've discovered that if you're good in bed, you can get away not being June Cleaver.

Goodness, don't gasp. It is that easy, ladies. Jerry Hall would never do windows, or ever wrap her long fingers around Toilet Duck. (Yes, yes, Mick Jagger eventually left her, but look, it was not for want of housekeeping skills)

My late grandmother, the Real Mokciknab, used to admonish me for not giving my husband the full "Pantai Timur Wife" treatment, which I think included after-dinner mints and a foot massage. She'd complain if I don't iron my husband's clothes, complain if I don't wait at my husband's elbow for his every need. I used to make a go for it, when she's around, but after a while, I got tired. I think she had a minor heart attack when she saw Saiffuddin making me breakfast.

Saiffuddin has been making my breakfast longer than we have been married. I get herbal tea at bedtime, my handphone charged without me lifting a finger, and fresh towels when I step out of the bath. Oh God, yes, I'm that lazy. Saiffuddin does everything, and he'll tell you I'm not exaggerating.

But you know, even if I abide by my grandmother, and I wait by his elbow to attend to his every need I can tell you right now, he won't be asking me for coffee.


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