My mother is, in some small respect, like a man. She will never admit to feeling a certain way even if asked flat out; instead, she makes little comments and poses little questions that leave no question about how she feels at the moment. Sometimes I find this a blessing. Other times…
Mom: Are you coming home for dinner tonight?
S: No. Becca and I are just going to do dinner right after the gym.
Mom: How come you’re always with Becca these days? What happened to her 40-year-old?
S: She left him.
Mom: Oh. Well… don’t you see anyone else but her?
S: Mom, there’s no one else to see.
Mom: Are you still —
Mom: For the past two weeks you’ve been —
S: Mama! Are you concerned about something?
Mom: No. Nono. No. I was just asking.
S: Your mother-in-law just spoke to me!
Mom: Well! So she’s not entirely in a slump after all. What did she say?
S: She asked when I’m going to get married.
Mom: (guffawing) How like her. The recent insults to her body have left her silent and subdued, and the only time she sees fit to speak is to ask you when you’re getting married.
S: I suppose still thinks the only way for me to redeem my soul is to ‘grow up’ and get married.
Mom: Well you know, when people get on with age they do want to see their grandchildren — or children — settle down. You’re her second and last granddaughter, and she wants to make sure you’re married and taken care of and provided for.
S: But I don’t need anyone to take care of me and provide for me. I don’t care about things like that. Why do people keep thinking —
Mom: I’m just saying, I’m just saying!
Mom: Do you know, I went to pick up Sister Sim on the way to YK Chan’s open house, and her new house is really nice! Somewhere in Puchong.
Mom: She wanted to renovate her old house, but then a feng shui man told her not to renovate and just buy a new one.
S: That’s like telling her to throw away her shoes and get a new pair.
Mom: Anyway, this feng shui man seems to be quite credible. He’s from Ipoh, doesn’t charge an arm and a leg or make you do ridiculous things like take out a window and put it in another wall. And a few months after they moved in, her son got headhunted for a much better job, and her daughter got married!
S: You seem uncharacteristically excited over a feng shui man.
Mom: Well, Sister Sim swears by him. I’m thinking of asking him to look at our new house, or maybe even just to do something for us now. It could help you with your career and… other things.
So there it is. My mother — who previously championed independence and self-sufficiency and assured me time and time again that it was OK if I didn’t want to get married as long as I lived my life well — is worried that I will end up an old maid. I don’t know if it’s because at my current age she was already married, or because she’s seen all my failed (attempts at) relationships and is afraid I’ll never end up in a functional, lasting one, but if she’s actually willing to resort to feng shui — something she has scoffed at ever since Lillian Too tried to sell her own brand of brainwashing (“No, not like Lillian Too!” she snaps whenever her patients associate their first names) — then this is becoming a problem.