Why I (Should) Stopped Caring for My (Extended) Family

To make this short: because they seem to forget to mind their fucking business.

The longer version goes like any typical annual gathering in any Asian, Southeast Asian or Indonesian families, where most of the older relatives felt the need to ask and pry on your personal matters. Through the years, I’ve went through “when are you graduating?”, “where’s your girlfriend?”, “why are you gaining weight?” to the most excruciatingly annoying, “when are you getting married?”.

Let me cut in quick by answering, “I don’t know and fuck you – because I just lost the last bit of respect for you.”

It got even more annoying when all those older cousins now grew up into their annoying parents (the uncles and aunties) and now is making my non-clear future marriage plan a topic of mockery. I mean, come on. I can take a mocking, and it’s not that I’m insulted being dissed for not yet getting married – I’m not married by choice, cousins, something maybe some of  you don’t understand. It’s the constant poking and reminding that it’s not okay to be in your thirties and not married that’s just grinding me. Being told that you are not complete before having a family. And they could professionally say that without saying it’s wrong. That’s how good my family is. Then it gets even worse…

During the last Lebaran gathering, my youngest uncle called my cousins and I to a separate room because he wants to have a forum. First I assumed that it’s going to be planning for the gathering next year. Turns out it was to break the news to us about a cousin (let’s call him E) who was not present at the time, and how he’s been hiding the fact that he’s already married and had a child in the past year. Holy shit, right? Yet, my cousins still find time to make a joke about me.

Wah nikah dan udah punya anak. Choki kalah dua, dong“, which met with the cackle from the most of the others in the room. The typical older, married with kids, boring types. But it doesn’t stop there. In the room, there was also another cousin (let’s call her P, whom like me, was a part of the minority) who after going sabbatical for a number of years following her divorce, decided to rejoin this year’s family event. She was also, if I can say so, got her guard down and in a way received the spotlight she eluded in the past few years.

It began with these nosy cousins trying to figure out about what should we do with E’s secret new family – should we accept them or should we let them be. Yes, they’re talking about it as if it’s their obligation to make decisions about someone else – without the said person included in the conversation. Then P said, based on her experience, that it’s not for us to decide (YAY!). It followed with a simple logic from her, pointing out that should E need help, he would eventually come to us (YAY YAY!). But that’s not how this family works, right?

Another cousin raised his hand and said that he doesn’t agree with that. He mentioned that during P’s solitude, everybody was asking her not because they were “kepo“. They just “mau tahu apa yang bisa dibantu, karena khawatir” – thus, establishing that the questions are helping and should be answered. Yes, he said that without realising they were basically the same fucking thing. This was the moment when I realised that not only they are intrusive, but also dense to the core. He (and the majority of the room) just doesn’t get the concept that no means no. And I have to tell you that P was quite aggressive when defending for her situation back then. She snarked and barked at anybody trying to get close to her, obviously now I know it’s to find out more then they deserved – which in the end resulted in her vanishing. All I did was just giving sarcastic memes and not answering anything, trying to keep my cool all day long.

And let’s get back to the fact that my cousins still think it’s funny to compare me with E. With all due respect to the guy, if he’s hiding his family for a year, then something really bad must have happened – but hey, I still lost??! I’m a managing editor of one of the biggest travel and lifestyle magazine in Bali – a position I have achieved in less than two years. I write, curate, edit numerous articles each month, leading a bullpen of several writers – a few of them are foreigners. AND I STILL FUCKING LOST JUST BECAUSE I’M NOT MARRIED??! ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? DOESN’T WHAT I DO MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU MOTHERFUCKERS???

Please, mas dan mbak, should one day you ever read this, do me a simple favor. Ask your kids, especially those already in high school and soon getting into college: when they start to work in a couple of years, who do they want to be, Uncle E or Uncle Choki? Mamam tuh nikah.


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