Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Rose is the youngest of almost a dozen siblings and is blessed with good looks and demure mannerism. Born in a small village on the west coast of the Peninsular. She was a child of post independence, the nation was in the process of building herself into what she is today. Rose’s parents cultivated paddy fields for consumption and to sell. Supplementing this they planted bananas, tapioca and other vegetables. Her father fish for fresh water prawns and hunt jungle fowl when it is in season. He had some buffaloes and a couple of cows of which the bulls are used to pull his ox cart. The cart afforded extra income as it was used to haul sugar cane harvested by Chinese farmers inland to the coast for processing. That was their life.
Being the youngest, Rose became the most educated of all her sibling. Even better than her brothers. Her sisters don’t count as her father is of the mindset that girls are supposed to stay home and do womanly things and that’s what they did. As a consequence most of her sisters are illiterate. In this respect Rose was lucky as it was during her time that it became mandatory for all children to undergo formal education. She manages to complete her education with acceptable results. Perhaps mellow with age and also at the insistence and encouragement of village folks, her father allowed her to go to the city to pursue a course in nursing. To pacify his concerns and foreboding thoughts, it was arranged for Rose to stay with a relative in the city.
All goes well till the end of the first year of Rose doing her nursing course. The beginning of the second year marks the turning point for her as it was during this time that she met Ray. He is an armed forces personnel who hails from the East Coast. They became involved and love blooms to such an extent that they had to get married. Rose sacrificed her nursing career much to the disappointment of her sisters who never got the chance but accepted with a sigh of relief by her father. His relief comes from the fact that once a daughter is married off, the responsibility is transferred from the father to the husband. For he is one who holds fast to the notion that caring for a herd of buffaloes is easier than caring for a daughter. Therefore, no one and nothing could stand in the way of their union. Her other family members just gave in and wished her well.
She did turn out well and became an excellent homemaker. The house is always spic and span. Not a book out of place. The children are always clean, well dressed and fed. It was an ideal existence until three child later when her husband opted for early retirement from the forces. On retirement he started doing odd jobs to supplement his pension. The scent of disorder began to surface once he started work as a truck driver. His work sees him away from home for days at a time. Woman's intuition made her query and investigate where upon the truth was discovered. He had another wife and toddler on the other side of town. She was devastated but her kids gave her strength. With no qualifications to gain financial independence, she accepted her fate and continues raising her kids as best she can. All she demanded was that Ray provided for her and the kids rightful subsistence which Ray provided. At his convenience...
What her family fails to understand to this day is why Ray chose to marry a woman who is less pretty and a much lesser home maker than Rose. This question arose after a few of her sisters went to confront Rose’s rival and had a glimpse of how she lived. Instead of a full frontal assault they pitied her existence. They would understand if it was a younger girl with better quality than Rose – so they say. A few years later Ray came back to Rose. He never left his second wife but made a more regular presence in Rose’s house. Rose never question him, she just accepted his presence back into her life but not the children. To this day they look at him with disdain and will never speak to him in the same tone as they would speak to Rose.
Love or the notion of love turns people into idiots. Would Rose have a better life if she were to wait until she finished her nursing course to get married ? Love is important yes, but it doesn’t feed you or shelter you does it ? Love is fleeting but feeding must be done at least three times a day, except during Ramadan of course. Think about that.