Great news. I get to leave as scheduled for the Watson after snagging an earlier spot for my US Visa interview. Tomorrow morning at 7.30am I will be waiting patiently outside the US Embassy in KL, without a backpack, clutching all my documents. I can take any question, Officer.
Non-verbal bonds attach people to one another. The break down or absence of language to describe relationship needs make for pairings that baffle and insult third-parties. Two scenarios that piqued my interest: why did the chinese-speaking businessman in the bicycle shop tell his girlfriend in english that now she knows how to dismount a bike like a man? How could an english-speaking young adult, following after his mandarin-speaking girlfriend, attend a mandarin-speaking church till he consents to be baptized by the pastor? Neither of these scenarios explained why people were acting outside the bounds of their language comfort zone. Both exude an intentionality for further connection with the partner in question. For a brief moment prior to her mounting the bike on the repair stand, she sifted through her partner's spiked up hair, pulling out any white hairs; and in accordance with the baptism ceremony flow, prior to submersion and a lengthy pastoral invocation in Mandarin, the person about to be baptized gave a statement of his faith in eloquent and crisp english before a fifty-person chinese-speaking congregation. Both scenarios neglect the importance of language in carrying out both pedestrian and coming-of-age rituals.
In a world of overly generous, and endearing aunties and uncles, force feeding you and forcefully requesting you take their pair of slippers because the threads on mine are running bare, I encounter pockets of difficulty. An aunt said to my cousin yesterday: "I don't care who you bring home, I will accept!" A statement that would ring relief in non-speaking families, she was referring to the readable identities a person bears. She went on and listed the kinds of people she would accept: "Hindu la, Punjabi la, Sikh la, boy la, girl la, Malay la, eh no no no, actually Malay very hard [to accept]." Despite her liberalness, cultural and religious implications of a Malay partner-in-law plague her. The difficulty she anticipates is an expected burden, and one too heavy even to agree with in theory. What is this fear of the Malay partner-in-law for non-Malay's? Is a child's adherence to parental biases required for filial piety? 'yes, of course,' screams my left brain.