Gender & Identity Life

Desi Muslim women are always blamed for their divorce – never the men

When I heard the news about my aunt’s divorce for the first time, I was relieved. Thank God, she was finally free from her miserable marriage. She was so nice to everyone and it was a shame for her to stay in her emotionally abusive marriage. I wondered why it took so long for them to split up after being together for almost 15 years, but that did not matter anymore since she was finally a free woman. She was happier than ever. Divorce was indeed the best decision she ever made that time.

But that was not how my family sees it.

There was one time when my aunt, my grandmother and I were having a conversation. Suddenly my grandmother brought up my aunt’s divorce and hearing her every word about it, I could not be more shocked. She advised my aunt to dress modestly and not to talk to men for the time being.

It baffled me at first. That was weird. How did that have anything to do with her divorce?

My grandmother continued, saying that it was not appropriate for a divorcée to dress a certain way. A lot of people would think she was up to no good and trying to get attention from any man she could. As a newly-divorced woman, she would be seen as desperate for a man’s companionship after splitting up with her husband. After all, it must have been lonely, being on her own after living with her husbands for years. My aunt was not surprised, but I was flabbergasted. Was that really how society perceived divorced women? Sadly, for Muslim communities, the answer is yes.

To this day, nothing has changed. Women are still marginalized from society because of their status as a divorcée. Their quality as a woman is lowered and she is considered the last option for men. But worse, women are seen as the reason for the marriage breakup.

This is a reality for the Muslim community in Asia. No matter what the reason is, women are always at fault for the divorce. Most women will get the blame for divorce while men are off the hook from any accusation or from being the topic of gossip.

“You could not take care of your husband well, now look what happened.”

“You were not good enough for him and look what happened? He is now taken by another woman!”

Those are just some of the things Muslim divorcées hear. There are a lot nastier and sometimes, ridiculous reasons people can come up with to just to blame women.

As a divorced woman, she will either be the topic of conversations or avoided altogether. A divorcée is either a slut or problematic and there is no in between or other categories.

Just imagine a divorced man, talking and laughing with other women. No one would say a word because nothing seems wrong with that. But when a divorced woman does it, everyone starts to talk. Instead of being supportive, the community would rather bring women down. Perhaps, this is why divorced women tend to keep their status in the dark.

Things are no different in Middle East countries, either. The way women are perceived after divorce is just like in Asia – the wrong ones and the potential homewreckers. Unlike women in Asia who hides their status, Middle Eastern women would rather stay in their problematic marriage than be free of it. They are willing to endure any kind of abuse, believing it is better than to face the negative backlash from their family and society. In some cases, the parents interfered and refused to let their daughters get a divorce because of the dishonor it would bring to the family. Because the moment it is finalized, these women will step out of the court with a new status – failure in the community.

There is one thought crossed my mind sometimes – did they ever once wonder how does it feel to be in these women’s circumstances?

There is no reason for any woman to leave a happy marriage and condemn their life into loneliness. Divorce is a distressing experience for all women. It will take a while for them to come to terms with their situation, but there are more obstacles and difficulties to be overcome. Especially for single mothers, they need love and support, emotionally and financially from their close ones. However, society is too quick to judge, which added more to their struggles and burden without realizing sometimes divorce is inevitable.

Gender & Identity Life

I prefer to speak a different language than my native tongue, so what?

My heart sank as I read the replies under the comment I posted. Every word was a dagger, stabbing my chest over and over again and then twisted. When I could not handle it anymore, I closed the tab browser and shut my computer down, trying to ignore it. “American wannabe,” “too proud to speak in Malay,” and “disgrace of the community” are only some of the things people called me in their replies. For them, I have forgotten about my own roots and heritage. I should not live here in Malaysia, or better I should be exiled from my country. Although those were not the worst remarks I have received, still, there was a sting in my heart.

“Suck it up and get over it!” I told myself, as usual. It became a normal routine for me since I was a teen.

The next morning as I entered my class, I could notice the stares from some of my classmates as they whispered to each other. As expected, they started to crack their snide jokes to each other, obviously about me.

“Hey guys, minah salleh just came in!” and they all laughed. Again, as usual, I tried to ignore them and walked towards my friends with one reserved seat for me. My friends looked at me with sympathy and scorn in their faces for our classmates’ behavior towards me. The name minah salleh,  which means ‘white girl’ in my language, was meant to mock me. And they intended to let the whole world know about me, the girl who lost her identity.

Because every time they say it, everyone would agree with them.

This is a normal, but distressing scenario I have to live with every day. All because of one thing – I speak one language, English, more often than I speak in my own language.

I love learning foreign languages. But English was the only language I could learn in school. Before the age of ten, English language lessons in school are compulsory for children. But of all of them, I grew fascinated with the language and started to read everything in English from storybooks, newspapers, magazines to signboards and labels on every product I bought. I poured over the English language.

I decided to speak more. I wanted to improve my fluency in English as much as I could.

Unfortunately, none of the kids my age, from my own community, were interested in it. They saw English as a language to pass in examinations from elementary to high school. It was only important for them to survive college one day as it was an academic language, but that was it. They just needed to know the basics, but there was no need to make it as known as our own language.

If I was a diaspora kid or a child of an immigrant, they would not say anything. But I was not and for them, it was peculiar to speak in another language than our own. The way they saw it, I have forgotten my own mother tongue. I was showing off with my ability in speaking English or proudly displaying my level in intelligence – for them English was a measure of people’s intellect. The verbal bullying is not just from people around, but also in social media. Just one post on my Facebook or Instagram with an English caption and in no time, it will be full of comments from critics.

I have been living with these people my whole life and I still wonder – why is it a sin to speak in another language? It is just a language, a verbal or written expression with completely different words. Speaking in another language does not mean I am forgetting my own roots and heritage. I am not ‘converting’ myself into a white – as they called it – but it is simply because I love it.

I would never forget my own native language as I speak it with my family and friends all the time. The only difference between me and them is my ability to speak in another language, but they see it as arrogance. This is not just happening to me, it happens to others from my community who speak English or any other languages as well. Because there is one rule about being born in our homeland – we have to speak in our native language. We do not live in a country of four seasons, eat full English breakfasts or even have colored-eyes and white skin, so why bother ‘changing’ ourselves into one of them?

Just a slip of one English word and every eye will turn to us with judging stares. It is almost impossible to change the society’s mentality about this. No matter what our intention is, they will always be viewed negatively.


My sister’s wedding was almost ruined by one jealous relative

When we watch family dramas unravel on TV shows or soap operas, there’s always a family member portrayed as evil with devious desires. Usually, it would be jealous sisters, envious aunts or evil mother-in-laws abhorring other people’s happiness and wishing for their misfortune.

For my family, it’s my uncle’s wife.

I never thought it could be so bad, in fact, no one did. All we knew was that she was always jealous of what others had – a bigger and more beautiful house, good health, or good relationships. Everyone knew how unhappy she’d be if she lacked something someone else had. She’d do whatever she could to be better than everyone else.

That’s the reason why none of us were happy when our grandparents gave her the biggest role in my sister’s wedding this year.

[bctt tweet=”None of us were happy when our grandparents gave her the biggest role in my sister’s wedding this year.” username=”wearethetempest”]

My uncle’s wife was given the role of dressmaker for everyone in the family except the bride. But it wasn’t just that; my grandparents also trusted her to send the wedding invitations to all the guests. My sister protested their decision in vain, but every word that came out of my grandparents was as good as a royal decree; they would not take no for an answer.

From that moment, my sister knew the wedding wouldn’t be as good as she wished. My family worried about her, and whether or not our outfits would come out okay. We tried not to be cynical and stayed optimistic, but in the back of our minds, there was a lot of doubt.

When the wedding day arrived, I and my two brothers waited for our dress and suits for hours, but my uncle’s wife didn’t show. The nikkah ceremony was going to start in half an hour and our mother kept calling us, telling us we needed to be there ASAP. Worse, we had kept the marriage certificates needed for the ceremony with us.

[bctt tweet=”My sister knew the wedding wouldn’t be as good as she wished.” username=”wearethetempest”]

She showed up late with the excuse that her sewing machine was broken and she had it fixed only yesterday.


The clothes were supposed to be done a week before the wedding. We didn’t buy her excuse but quietly took our clothes anyway. My dress ended up being oversized and horrible. It was a complete mess, but there was nothing I could do; the color theme for bride’s side of the family was red, and that was the only red dress I had.

The ceremony had to be held two hours later than scheduled. But the day didn’t get better after that.

The reception was held on the same day, right after the ceremony. The hall was decorated beautifully with a spring theme, full of white roses everywhere. The sight of the wedding throne, where the bride and groom sit, was breathtaking. We were all so proud and happy on that day. The marriage of the first child and daughter of my parents and grandchildren of our grandparents is a big deal.

It took an hour for the guests to fill the reception hall, but half of them from our side of the family didn’t even show up. Before the arrival of the bride and groom, we were all wondering, ‘Where the hell were the others? Why didn’t they come?’ My parents, aunts, and uncles called the invited guests and guess what?

They didn’t receive the invitation at all.

[bctt tweet=”My sister’s wedding guests didn’t receive their invitations at all.” username=”wearethetempest”]

And we all knew whose fault that was. My uncle and his wife came to the reception where she showed no remorse for neglecting her duties.

None of us wanted to cause a scene on that day. We tried to enjoy it as much as we could, but couldn’t help feeling disappointed and angry about what happened. On the stage, sitting on the wedding throne, I could see how shattered my sister was from her expression.

I’m proud of my family for trying to move past this, and not giving my uncle’s wife a hard time, but the disappointment we felt was big. My grandparents would hate to know my decision for when I get married someday – excluding them from the wedding. It would be considered disgraceful for anyone to do that to them, but after what they did to my sister, I couldn’t care less.


These 10 historically-inspired wedding dresses will leave your guests inspired

Do you know that the overskirt dress with a detachable bustle is actually inspired by Victorian-era fashion?

History is not the only thing that keeps repeating. Fashion does too. There has been a lot of major comeback of the old trends in the way we dress up, including our wedding styles as well. Pin-up from the 50’s, boho from the 70’s and glitter from the post-WWI era in wedding dresses are some of the old-fashioned-turned-new trends these days. Believe it or not, most of our wedding dress styles are influenced by historical fashion, even from ancient times!

Ready to get inspired? Feast your eyes on these dresses of different eras and you will love all them!

1. Celtic Iron Age

Make your fantasy come true and be a gorgeous Celtic-styled queen or beautiful elf princess on your wedding day. You can now say “I do” to your Elven prince.

2. Archaic Greece Era

Want to be Aphrodite on your wedding day? Try Grecian dresses!

3. Medieval-Era

Fancy the Cersei Lannister styles in Game of Thrones? Now you can be a beautiful Middle Age bride too with long sleeves and caped dress.

4. Regency-Era

This romantic, vintage high-waisted wedding dress will surely make your Mr. Darcy’s jaw drop.

5. Victorian-Era

Want something different? Something unique and a little bit eccentric? Try Victorian style!

6. Edwardian-Era

Forget the sad-ending Titanic story. Now put on your pretty Edwardian wedding dress and go to your unsinkable ship. Your soulmate Jack Dawson is waiting!

7. Jazz Age of the 20’s

Want to go back to the Great Gatsby era? Let’s get glam and fabulous with glittery flapper dress and shiny headpieces.

8. Golden Age of Hollywood

Ladies! Now get your hair curled and put a shade of dark red on your lips. It’s time to kill that Marilyn Monroe look!

9. Hippy Style of the 70’s

Love nature and a rustic style? Let’s get a bohemian wedding dress and be a super chic bride on your wedding day.

10. The Classic 80’s

You can’t go wrong with the classic, leg-of-mutton-sleeved dress with long train. Who wouldn’t want to feel like Princess Diana on her wedding?


The nude bridal dress is officially a trend and we are SO here for it

Brides should always be the center of attention on their wedding day. But as a bride, are you daring enough to wear a sheer wedding dress?

Gone are the days of demure and traditional weddings. Now, the trend of nude or ‘naked’ wedding dresses is rising incredibly fast. If you’re not a conventional bride and enjoy being a bit rebellious on your wedding day these dresses are definitely for you!

1. Show those curves, lady.

2. Check out the patterns!

3. Delicate details.

4. This floral lace dress is gorgeous!

5. Perfection.

6. Who wouldn’t want this dress?

7. White sheer is the new black.

8. Who needs yards of fabric when one layer of lace is enough?

9. This is stunning!

10. This is a dress truly for a Queen.

11. I’m in love with this embroidered dress!

12. Romantic + sexy = breathtaking.

13. Let’s make a fashion statement.

14. Sheer jumpsuit, ladies?

15. The Aphrodite of her wedding.

16. I’d definitely pay for this one.

17. Not your average bride.

18. Angelic bride.

19. Zuhair Murad never disappoints me.

20. See-through dress with pearls and beads? Hell, yes.

21. Waiting for her groom…

22. HOT!

23. Classic & elegant.

Humor Weddings

14 comebacks to “Why aren’t you married yet?” that’ll shut nosy aunties up

“Why aren’t you married yet?”

As a single woman in my twenties, it’s common to be bombarded by marriage questions from my aunts and other elders in the family. They probably think of it as a good conversation starter, but it can be extremely personal for some people. While most are excited to attend a wedding, we single ladies have to be ready to face the dreadful interrogation from the elders. When we’re too tired to give them the same answer, the only thing we could do is smile awkwardly or shrug.

But can we turn the table and let them be speechless by our answers this time? Absolutely yes! Next time when you’re being asked the same question again, feel free to use any of these savage comebacks to get back at them.

1. “Tomorrow. I’m getting married tomorrow.”

[Image description: Bard Simpson saying, ‘That’s right! It’s tomorrow!’ Image source: Giphy]
Did you get the invitation?

2. “I did. Were you there at my wedding?”

[Image description: A girl saying, ‘Awkward.’ She has her hands on her hips and is looking around nervously. Image source: Giphy]
Oh, you weren’t invited… awkward.

3. “I’m waiting for your cheque.”

[Image description: A woman gasping with surprise. Image source: Giphy]
I thought you were paying for my wedding. You know, since you keep asking.

4. “It’s on February 31st.”

[Image description: A character from The Simpsons saying, ‘And everyone’s invited.’ Image source: Giphy]
Save the date!

5. “Relax, I’m too young to settle down.”

[Image description: A little girl saying, ‘Chill out, dude,’ and walking away. Image source: Giphy]
I’m only 26, what’s the rush?

6. “I’m still waiting for The One.”

[Image description: A girl sighed before throwing her hand to her forehead and fainting.Image source: Giphy]
But he’s currently swimming across the Pacific Ocean to reach me. *sigh*

7. “When I finally learn how to cook biryani.”

[Image description: A woman trying to flip the pancake but failing miserably. A chef is standing by watching her and yells, ‘Up!’ Image source: Giphy]
I’ve only just learned how to make a roti.

8. “I was going to, but Prince Harry is taken, so…”

[Image description: A woman lying down, looking sad and saying, ‘I wanna talk about it but I can’t.’ Image source: Giphy]
I’m sorry but I’m too heartbroken to talk about it right now. *cries hysterically*

9. “My boyfriend wanted to, but then his wife found out…”

[Image description: A woman shocked, covering her mouth and giggling. Image source: Giphy]

10. “I’m aiming for the title of CEO first, then wife.”

[Image description: Daenerys Targaryen riding a horse and dropping a giant microphone. Image source: Giphy]
Do you want me to apply cold water to the burn?

11. “I was. Until today.”

[Image description: A woman smirking as she winks. Image source: Giphy]
*winks at a random stranger*

12. “I’m currently in a relationship with food.”

[Image description: A woman glaring while stuffing her mouth full of food. Image source: Giphy]
Have you met my new boyfriend, naan? I made it myself…

13. “I will, when people stop asking that.”

[Image description: A baby sitting in a car seat and rolling her eyes. Image source: Giphy]
Why don’t you ask me about my job promotion instead?

14. “Single is in.”

[Image description: Cher from Clueless carrying shopping bags and looking happy. Image source: Giphy]
It’s a new trend for millennial ladies now, you know?


My Malay family wanted to control my sister’s wedding, she wasn’t having it.

My sister and her fiancé already had it all planned; a modern but romantic wedding, with just a slight touch of tradition in the celebration. But unfortunately, not everyone was pleased and on board with their ideas. While they were dreaming of their big happily-ever-after day, some people were ready with their own suggestions and demands.

They were already expecting a perfect wedding for my sister since her engagement. A perfect, conventional wedding full of traditions and cultural customs.

My sister had her eyes on a villa-like pavilion at the top of the hill and dreamed of holding her wedding reception there. From the ballroom hall, everyone could see the breathtaking view of the whole city surrounded the pavilion, which added more to the wedding appeal. There was also a small chamber, suitable for their akad nikkah ceremony. The place was more than perfect for their wedding and they couldn’t have asked for more.

[bctt tweet=” While they were dreaming of their big happily-ever-after day, some people were ready with their own suggestions and demands.” username=”wearethetempest”]

But it wasn’t what everyone expected.

Traditionally, the ceremony was supposed to be done in the bride’s house. For Muslims, it was more proper for them to hold the ceremony in the mosque. Aunts and uncles from both family sides were surprised that they picked none of these venues. Most of them disliked the idea and questioned my sister’s decision. They kept chanting ‘It’s tradition!’ every time they had the chance to my sister and her groom.

Fortunately, they’d made up their mind and nothing could change it. But that wasn’t the only conflict faced by the bride and groom and their family.

My sister’s other idea for her dream wedding was to have a Jazz band at the reception. This, of course, completely strayed from the usual cultural entertainment that we have in a traditional Malay wedding – a bendir or framed drum performance. To my sister, this kind of entertainment wasn’t suitable for the concept of their modern wedding at all.

This time they didn’t just question her decision. They tried to persuade her, especially my uncle since he already hired a group of bendir performance without her knowledge. They wanted it to at least be included in their wedding reception because it was a must for every wedding in our family. As they kept saying: ‘Because it’s tradition!’

At this point, my sister and her groom were already overwhelmed with the unsolicited suggestions and demands. They managed to stop the dispute and the family (involuntary) went along with the Jazz band plan. But the intervention didn’t end here.

[bctt tweet=”As they kept saying: ‘Because it’s tradition!'” username=”wearethetempest”]

Our families had one more wish that they couldn’t say no anymore – the guest list.

They would rather celebrate their love, commitment and a new start to their married life privately, only with their close relatives, and few friends. They never wished for a big wedding, full of guests that barely even showed up in their life. After all, everything was paid for by themselves without any financial help from their parents. So why should they feed those people they hardly recognized?

They received a strong reaction from almost everyone. Along with the “It’s tradition!” argument, they insisted on dictating the list of guests to include whoever they wished. Inviting everyone related was a must, and by “related” they meant those who were close to them, but not necessarily to the bride and the groom. Leaving any of them out would be completely unacceptable.

For days, my sister and her fiancé were bugged with “it’s tradition” and “what will people say.” The pressure from our overbearing families was too much to handle and in the end, they had to agree. At that time, they realized that it was impossible to have a low-key wedding.

[bctt tweet=”The pressure from our overbearing families was too much to handle and in the end, they had to agree.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Their long-awaited wedding day came. It wasn’t as perfect as they planned. But being married to each other was their biggest wish of all things they ever wanted for in this wedding. And they were grateful enough for that.

The interference of our family didn’t just dilute the excitement they were supposed to feel. The wedding day was supposed to be about them and not the traditions. My sister didn’t completely abandon all of them; there were still customary dowries according to our culture, henna night and other customs before the wedding day. But the families of both sides still felt as if all tradition had been cast aside.

Perhaps this is what I should keep in mind from my sister’s experience; my wedding day, one day would be expected to fit within our cultural norm and traditions.

They might try to take charge in coordinating my wedding, but I will never let my right to enjoy my day to be forfeited by them. After all, a wedding is supposed to be a celebration of love, not just tradition.


My Malay community is obsessed with “wedding contests,” and it’s driving everything out of control

When the first family member of my generation getting married, I finally had the chance to be at the family’s meeting for the first time. But I wasn’t exactly participating in the discussion between the two families. As a close relative, my only duty was to serve tea for them while they were exchanging suggestions on how to organize the wedding for the future newlyweds.

I was eager to listen to their ideas. As I served tea for each of them, I focused on their conversation about budgeting and expenses, dowries from each side of the families (one of wedding customs in Malay culture), guest list, and date, time and the venue of the wedding. And there was also dos and don’ts of wedding planning, which was quite an opener for me. Who knows, it could be a useful lesson for me. Especially when I am going to get married one day.

But the most interesting part of the meeting?

Their discussion about other people’s previous weddings in the village.

[bctt tweet=”It amazed me of how the aunts of the families could remember every little detail of other people’s weddings. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

It amazed me how the aunts could remember every little detail of other people’s weddings. I was surprised to hear when they mentioned few receptions that were held years ago!

They compared each of the weddings and criticized almost every single aspect while planning for a grander and more glorious one. If someone had five different types of food served at their wedding, they wanted seven for themselves.

If somebody had seven layers of wedding cake in their receptions, they’d make it nine, or even more than that.

So, if another family had a grand arrival of the newly-wed couple with a Lamborghini or Ferrari, would they consider using a horse carriage or helicopter? Yes, possibly! They’d do anything to outshine every wedding that was ever held in the village.

I couldn’t help but chuckled with their overenthusiasm to compete with other villages through the wedding. But I had no say at all in the matter, nor did I care less about their excessive planning.

As long as they’re happy with their decisions, who was I to judge?

[bctt tweet=”They’d do anything to outshine every wedding that was ever held in the village.” username=”wearethetempest”]

When the long-awaited day finally arrived, it was just exactly what they planned. A super grand and lavish wedding, a worthy topic of conversation for the whole village. During the reception, I noticed most women inspecting the celebration and whispering to each other.

That actually made me wonder: were they planning to emulate this wedding?

A year later, another cousin of mine announced his decision to get married.

There would be another meeting, which also came with another competition. Probably the biggest one since I knew my cousin’s mother too well – a proud and self-aggrandizing one when it comes to herself and her family. Before the meeting even started, I could picture the wedding already in my head. It would be defined with these words – expensive and extravagant.

For her, nothing succeeds like excess.

I had to do my duty as a close relative, serving tea to each of the meeting participants together with my sisters and other female cousins. As expected, it was no different than the first one I’ve been a year before. Besides the expenses and basic wedding stuff like guest list and catering, they were comparing other people’s weddings as well. Neighbors, other relatives, and even friends’ weddings were included in the comparison.

Which, in the end, led to one goal: to create a spectacular wedding so great that it could eclipse the ones they mentioned.

[bctt tweet=”Spending a fortune for a huge wedding party is a necessity, even though it is beyond our own capability and affordability.” username=”wearethetempest”]

I could only shake my head in disbelief.

The day they’d dreamed of came true. Everyone was utterly stunned at the wedding. The decoration was as good as the royal weddings. It was held in the most expensive hotel in the town with top quality food served during the reception, which rarely done by our people in the village.

While people were admiring them for the effort of creating this sensational wedding, I was more astounded by their determination to rival with other weddings.

Apparently, it isn’t just in our family. A lot of people, not just in our community, perceives a wedding as some sort of popularity contest. It’s more like a hypocritical attempt to flaunt their wealth, while their actual life isn’t as superior as people believed during the wedding. Spending a fortune for a huge wedding party is a necessity, even though it is beyond our own capability and affordability.

Most weddings are more about showing off.

But certainly not my wedding.

I have a long way before I can start my journey to the altar. But one thing I’m sure about; my wedding is not meant to be showcasing and wasting money. It’s more of a special, memorable day that binds me and my loved one into an unbreakable bond, a start of our new life together.

It doesn’t have to be expensive. A simple ceremony and party, celebrated with our close families, relatives, and friends with humble food and good music will be more than enough for me.


My little sister got married before me. Now, people in my Malay community won’t stop judging us.

I’d never thought a simple gold ring could bring a big difference in my life. Not once had I expected to face a lot of changes the moment that ring slipped on my finger. Little did I know, people’s perceptions about me would not be the same anymore after that.

My older sister and I received the rings on our sister’s wedding day. It was a gift from the groom, and also a compulsory custom in our culture. Normally there wouldn’t be the need for that, but there was a reason as to why it was necessary.

He was marrying our youngest sister.

The rings given to us were symbolic of a marriage out of proper sequence among daughters. Anyone who’d see the ring on our middle finger could tell that our younger sister was married before us. In our Malay tradition, a marriage of a younger daughter before her elder sisters is still considered improper. For our community, it is more appropriate if she waits for her turn until her older sisters are married. Strangely, this cultural rule doesn’t apply to men.

[bctt tweet=”In our Malay tradition, a marriage of a younger daughter before her elder sisters is still considered improper.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Unfortunately, the ring came with unpleasant outcomes.

Not long after the wedding, I was shocked by the rumors and gossip about my sister. It started with ridiculous assumptions about her marriage. A lot of people thought that she had to rush the marriage because her husband knocked her up before the wedding. Some of them believed that she was way too desperate to get married and didn’t care about propriety anymore. To them, she should have waited until my older sister and I settled down with our own partners.

But even we couldn’t escape from their gossiping.

There were times when some of our relatives and neighbors approached us and asked, “’How does it feel that your younger sister got married before you?’

It was so irritating. Nobody actually believed that we had no problem at all with her being someone’s wife. For them, it was normal for us to feel a little bit of jealousy or resentful of her. She, after all, defied the norm of our culture and it was utterly unacceptable. By choosing to marry before her “turn” came, she was dishonoring us as her older sisters. Her marriage was almost sacrilegious in our culture.

The worst belief they had was that it was a bad omen for us. Once she became someone’s wife while we were still unmarried, the possibility of us finding our own spouses was almost nil.

[bctt tweet=”She, after all, defied the norm of our culture and it was utterly unacceptable.” username=”wearethetempest”]

As time passed they slowly stopped talking about my sister. From a desperate, improper girl, she turned into a diligent housewife with two children. The perfect definition of a woman in this patriarchal society.

But the shaming of her sisters didn’t end.

Lucky for my older sister, she finally found her soulmate and get married a few years after our younger sister’s wedding. But that leaves me, a single woman with no plan on settling down at the moment. She escaped people’s stigmatization while I’m still the topic of conversation.

I received a lot of “advice” about finding a partner from them. ‘Don’t be too picky’ or ‘don’t get too busy or else you won’t find a husband’ are a few of their favorite reminders for me. Some of them believe that I will end up being a spinster for the rest of my life.

Yes, my sister has beaten us to the altar, but why is that so wrong? Can’t she just be happy with her decision without being shamed and judged? Making assumptions and false rumors about her weren’t enough, so they got my older sister and I involved in their spiteful gossips.

[bctt tweet=”Some of them believe that I will end up being a spinster for the rest of my life.” username=”wearethetempest”]

My sister was lucky enough to get married. Some women would rather delay their wedding and wait for their older sisters, just to avoid people’s negative perceptions and condemning words. In some cases, younger daughters are not allowed to get married at all, just so their eldest can be the first bride in the family. They believe it is better for them to get their daughters married in the right order.

What could possibly happen when sisters marry without following the age order? Nothing at all! It would not make any difference to people. Everyone has their own timing for certain events or change, especially when it comes to marriage. Some younger women get married while the rest of women older than them are still single, and that’s totally acceptable. This is how it should be for the sisters as well.


11 beautiful weddings that show off Indonesia’s unique cultures

Indonesia is blessed with the luxury of its cultures. There are varieties of different cultures scattered in every corner of this country and every single one of them has its own unique and beautiful traditions. The cultures and heritage represent their identities and pride, which they highly regard in their life. And what else could be the best way to display the cultures apart from the wedding?

My people always said; ‘In your wedding, you are the King or the Queen of the day.’ I never truly believe this until I saw an Indonesian wedding. The groom and his bride dressed up all in an exquisite set of traditional clothing, embellished with golden jewelry and dangling jasmines from head to toe. There are more than thirty different cultures in Indonesia, and these are some examples of it:

1. The happiest day for this Solo couple!

2. The fierce warrior and warrioress of Jogja.

3. These golden Balinese headpieces are stunning!

4. Mesmerizing Sundanese wedding in blue theme.

5. She’s a shy Madurese bride.

6. Look at those Lampung crowns!

7. What a handsome Mandailing couple!

8. A jaw-dropping Aceh wedding.

9. Let’s stick to the traditional Kalimantan culture.

10. Who’d have thought pastels would look good on Minang weddings?

11. A beautiful set of red for the Palembangnese wedding.

Gender & Identity Humor Life

5 superstitions Malay women have to believe in, or else their marriage will be doomed

My friends once questioned me, “Why are you eating your food on your lap? You know that’s wrong!”

We were having a picnic and while they had their plates on the blanket, I had mine on my lap. They believed it was inappropriate to do that, especially as a woman. But I just laughed it off, aware that there was nothing I could say to shake their belief.

There are a lot of “improper” things I can’t do as a Malay woman. Since I was a kid, my grandmother taught me many rules about being a woman. Surprisingly, most of them are related to marriage. Ignore any of them and it could affect the longevity and quality of my marriage one day.

Being fed all these “don’ts” as an impressionable little girl, I believed them easily. But as I grew up, I had my doubts and tried to find logical reasons behind these rules. But all of them seemed irrational to me. Everything the elders in my family told me were just superstitions.

I no longer believe that my marriage in the future will be affected by these superstitious beliefs. Although I don’t follow most of them anymore, I understand the reasons as to why there are so many rules for us.

1. Don’t wake up late, or you’re going to have a hard time finding a husband.

[Image Description: A mother pulling her daughter’s feet while she’s gripping on her headboard. Image source: Giphy]
This is my “alarm clock” on every weekend. Around nine until ten in the morning, my mother would be knocking on my bedroom door as she keeps reminding me the same thing – wake up at this time and you will end up a spinster one day. As much as it annoys me, I knew it was better to listen to her.

Waking up late doesn’t have anything to do with difficulty finding a husband. But as a girl, it’s inappropriate for me to wake up late when so much housework can be done early in the morning.

2. Don’t look in a mirror during midnight, or your face will turn ugly.

[Image Description: A woman looking in the mirror and asking herself ‘Is that what I look like?’ Image source: Giphy]
When you have an ugly face, no men will want you. Of course, this is so not true, but the elders will do anything to frighten us into obeying this rule. They made it seem as if the mirror could be possessed by an evil spirit at midnight and turn me into a toad.

The logical reason for this? I need beauty sleep. That’s why it’s important for us to sleep early. Back then, a proper woman shouldn’t stay up all night so they could wake up early in the morning looking refreshed.

3. Don’t eat with your plates on your lap, or your husband will be snatched by another woman.

[Image Description: A man sitting on his bed while eating, with his food on his lap. He wipes his mouth with the blanket.Image source: Giphy]
I’ve heard this a lot, especially after my aunt divorced a few years ago. My grandparents believed it was because of her habit of eating with her plate full of food was on her lap. The most appropriate way is to eat at the table in the dining area. On some occasions (like a picnic), we put it on the ground while sitting with our legs folded to the side.

There was one time when I put the plate on my lap and accidentally spilled my food. That was when I found out the real reason as to why we shouldn’t eat that way. It’s more about etiquette and cleanliness, and has nothing to do with our husbands being taken by other women.

4. Don’t move around while eating, or your marriage will fail one day.

[Image Description: Pizza on the floor, and a woman crying as she turn away. Image source: Giphy]
Once I changed my place while I was still eating and my grandmother stopped me. I remember her telling me, ‘You’re going to have so many husbands one day because your marriages will keep failing. Stop doing that!’

What does moving around or changing places while eating have anything to do with a failed marriage? Again, nothing! But as we carry the food around, there’s a possibility of hitting something or someone, and we’d drop the food. It’s the same reason as to why we shouldn’t eat food on our lap.

5. Don’t sing while you’re cooking, or you’ll be married to an old fart.

[Image Description: A woman stirring the batter and dancing at the same time.] via Giphy
I used to be freaked out by this warning. I didn’t ever want to imagine myself at the altar with an old man, so I stopped doing it.

But I didn’t figure this out by myself. My friend explained to me the logical reason behind it with this question – would people want to eat our food with our spits in it? We’d never know if we accidentally added our saliva as extra “seasoning” on the food while singing Chikni Chameli.

Explaining the true reasons probably wouldn’t work for youngsters and they wouldn’t listen to these rules. Perhaps, that was why Malay community in previous generations came up with these illogical reasons, just so women could maintain their proper behavior and manner.

I still follow some of these rules, especially when my parents or grandparents are with me. But I’m not worried at all about the consequences from ignoring them because I know there are none.


My cousin’s wedding turned out to be a complete disaster, thanks to a few people

As an Asian, whether you’re from South, East or Southeast Asia, can you ever imagine yourself as a guest in a small wedding?

I bet most of you definitely can’t.

All my cousin ever wished for was a small and simple wedding. A private celebration with both solemnization or akad nikah and reception in one day, held at the bride’s home. They both wanted to share their happiest moment with family, close relatives, and few friends. Not the distant relatives they’ve never heard about or been close with.

The total number of invited guests was fifty, which could perfectly fit the bride’s house for the whole day.

[bctt tweet=”All my cousin ever wished for was a small and simple wedding.” username=”wearethetempest”]

There was no worry about the wedding budget. The cost only covered the food, simple decorations and also compensations for a few people we hired as the servers during the reception. Lucky for the bride, my cousin’s mother made her a dress for the wedding, and also as a gift for her. My uncle, being an excellent cook, offered to cater the wedding. So far, everything was going according to the plan.

It would be a perfect, humble outdoor wedding. We could already imagine the view of the backyard where it’d be full of decorated chairs and tables, roofed over with the canopies.

Then the long-awaited day finally arrived.

Everything was going well at first. But, being a hostess, I noticed something wrong an hour after the house started to flood with guests.

There were a lot of people we weren’t expecting!

[bctt tweet=”There were a lot of people we weren’t expecting!” username=”wearethetempest”]

As a community of people-pleasers, hurting their feelings would be utterly unacceptable. It was totally rude to deny their presence in the wedding, so I had no choice but to allow them in. I had to fake the smile and pretended to be glad, but mentally I kept questioning them: ‘Who the hell invited you?’

In no time, the house was overcrowded, mostly with gatecrashers. My cousin and his newly-wed bride weren’t amused at all with it. Both sides of the families kept asking each other, ‘Who invited these people?’ It wasn’t long until we found out that these uninvited guests were informed by the ones we selected and decided to invite themselves. They were disappointed that we didn’t plan to include them in the celebration.

The backyard was already full, and those who were sitting comfortably were mostly the uninvited guests. Even the table reserved for the newly-wed couple and their families were occupied! We chose fifty guests to attend the wedding, but the number of the guests who turned up was more than two hundred!

[bctt tweet=”In no time, the house was overcrowded, mostly with gatecrashers.” username=”wearethetempest”]

There are no words to stress enough how frustrated we were with the situation. Just when we thought the problem couldn’t be worse, there was another issue.

We ran out of food.

The newly-wed couple hadn’t even touched the food. My brothers had to rush to the market and shop so we could cook for more. But it turned out to be a waste of time because most of the guests decided to leave after waiting for so long. They were so annoyed at not getting any seat and food. In the midst of the noise and chatter, I could hear them saying: ‘This is the worst wedding I’ve ever been to!’

They came uninvited to the wedding, and they had the audacity to complain?

The wedding was a failure, much to my cousin and his new wife’s devastation. For the first time ever in my family’s history, the newlyweds had to starve on their own wedding day. They stayed in the wedding podium because the place where they were supposed the feast was taken by irresponsible guests.

[bctt tweet=”They didn’t receive an invitation, wasn’t that a clear enough message that they were not invited?” username=”wearethetempest”]

They didn’t receive an invitation, wasn’t that a clear enough message that they were not invited? Yes, of course, they’d be completely disappointed for not being included in the celebration. They’d feel as if they were not important enough to witness someone’s union and share the moment. Or to enjoy the food and socialize with other guests.

But one thing people should’ve understood was that the day was NOT about them. The day was all about my cousin and his wife. It should’ve been their day, celebrated in their own way. Unfortunately, it was completely ruined by those who thought their feelings were more important than the newlyweds’.

This is the lesson I’ve learned from this disastrous wedding: if you’re not invited, do NOT show up to the wedding. That’s their wish, so respect their decision. It doesn’t mean you’re being left out or ignored, but they only want to share the happiest moment of their life with the people who mean so much to them. Instead of taking it personally, why not just wish them the best?

You might be close to the family or relatives, but not the ones who are getting married. So you can’t say you deserve to be there when they clearly didn’t plan on inviting you.