Sunday, June 16, 2013

Blast from the Past: How My Parents Met

Back in my parents' generation, most Chinese parents would be agitated when their daughters became "of age" (18 years old). The parents then would start trying to find "best matches" for their daughters. That was what happened with my mom's elder sisters. It's not like they were married off to strangers, mind you. If the daughters weren't interested, then they wouldn't force the marriage, but anyway, many young girls back then were already married by the time they reached 20 years of age. 

My parents were the exception. I think for dad the problem was that he was shy and he didn't come from a well-off family. After all, in a developing country where there were almost no social benefits available, the man's ability to provide for the family became an important thing, especially because back then most women became stay-at-home moms. So having "rich" parents would help a man become "more interesting" for prospective women so to speak.

In my mom's case, she was just not interested in all the men that tried to pursue her (most of them were relatives or long-distant relatives) and back then my mom had an ambition. The ambition was to save enough money to buy grandma (her own mother) a house because at that time grandma was staying with my mom's elder sister and they kept on quarreling with each other. FYI, my mom's wish came true in the end. :-D

Anyway, my parents met through a mutual friend. This woman became their "matchmaker" so to speak. Mom was 31 at that time whereas dad was 35. They dated for 6 months and then decided to get married 6 months from then. So they got married about a year after they first met. And I was born exactly 10 months to the date of their wedding day. That's why it's easy for me to remember their wedding day ha ha...

Mom told me that when she started dating dad, she warned her mother and her elders NOT to try to do some "research" on my dad's background. You see, back then if there was a prospective husband-to-be, apparently my mom's elders loved to do some research to find out where the guy lived (in Indo even until now it's normal for kids to stay with their parents until they marry - so if they're not married, it's normal for them to stay home forever if they want to), who the parents were, what the financial condition of the parents and the guy was, etc. 

And I suspect that this kind of "habit" was not just limited to my mom's elders, because when we were younger, we always heard from our parents that back in their days there was this slogan "Bibit Bebet Bobot". This slogan was used in order to find the best prospective spouse-to-be. Bibit means genes, but it can also include the family background (social strata). Bebet means the spouse-to-be's circle of friends (are his friends gangsters or what?), though it also sometimes includes where he lives because sometimes where you live shows how well-off you are. Bobot means the spouse-to-be's personality and social status (job, rank, intelligence). 

Back to my mom actually knew my dad's younger brother because they went to school together. One important aspect that mom said made her believe that my dad would be a suitable husband was that while they went on dates and they talked about stuff, she found out that they had similar principles, goals, and aspirations. She knew that dad would be someone who could walk together with her hand-in-hand through life's ups and downs. And those words have been etched in my mind ever since I was young. :-) Finding someone who can walk together hand-in-hand (not just literally but mentally) was also my goal in terms of finding a husband. :-)

I don't think that they started off with romance, though (not love at first sight or things like that). Considering their ages, it was more of a sensible option, I suppose, though I'm sure love and romance grew from there. One of my fave memories of them is hearing them laugh and giggle like crazy until it got hard to breathe and mom said that she was afraid of peeing in her pants - you know the kind of laughter that started and then subdued for a few seconds but then it started again and again and again (this happened a few times: sometimes behind closed door, sometimes while they were both watching TV). 

My parents had a double wedding parties in two different places. Back then the cost of a wedding isn't as crazy as these days, so my dad had a wedding party where he invited all his relatives and friends in one place and after that my mom had hers where he invited all her relatives and friends. That way each of them could have a wedding that they wanted in two different places and invited whomever they wanted to invite he he...Such a tiring day, wouldn't you say? I loved looking at their wedding albums, though. :-)

Back then (few hundred) guests brought gifts instead of money for the newlyweds, so you can imagine that on their wedding night, they spent the whole night opening all the gifts and reading all the cards ha ha ha ha ha...and because they received plenty of similar gifts (lots of clocks and kitchen sets), they saved some of them to give to other newlyweds later on so that they didn't have to buy anything else LOL!!! 

Oh, before I forgot...I think one other reason why they expedited their wedding was because my dad's brother had been in a relationship for a few years already by the time my parents met and he didn't want to get married before my dad got married. And due to the amount of guests invited per wedding, in Indo it's usually considered "bad" if two siblings get married the same year, because it means that the guests will have to shell out some money again to the same family the same year (it'll be sort of a burden for them 'coz after all, it's normal in Indo to get lots of wedding invitations every year, esp. if you know so many people and you have lots of relatives and friends). So my dad's younger bro got married a year after my parents got married. 

OK, I got carried away and told you about their wedding, even though this post was supposed to be only about how they met HA HA HA HA HA HA...never mind then! :-D


  1. What a lovely story.
    I'm glad your mum's ambition came true.

    Finding someone who can walk together hand-in-hand - I like that.

    1. Yeah, me too. :-) I just LOVE love stories he he...

  2. thanks for sharing the story in here, Amel :D