First of all, congratulations to everyone who has their shit together. I'm talking about those with a good job—a career even—and a nice house. Those with a family and children. With premium health insurance. A mortgage. A scholarship. Congrats to all those who can afford a vacation abroad, who have 5,000 Instagram followers, who lost weight, and uploaded a selfie with the hashtag #SayaPancasila. You all have nothing to worry about. You can just go ahead and skip the rest of this article.
Now for the rest of you. Everyone knows that Eid al-Fitr, or Lebaran if you're Indonesian like me, is synonymous with two things: mudik and silaturahmi. We go back to our parents' hometowns and then go from house-to-house apologizing for our wrongdoings and catching up with people we typically only see once a year. It really makes you wonder where all those mistakes come from, doesn't it?
Most of the time, this tradition involves a lot of small talk. I hate small talk, and I typically end up hating family gatherings because of it. (Oh, wait a minute, that's what all those "mohon maaf lahir bathin" are about.)
Alright, maybe I am being too sensitive here. But getting through the holiday in Indonesia really requires some thick skin. And it's even worse when you're a woman. I'm trapped by the double standards that our society imposes on all women. And by that I mean that everyone has one question: why the hell am I still alone?
It doesn't matter how accomplished I might be. I could use my mind to move a satellite, or scientifically prove that the world is flat. I could have a job at the coolest company ever (thanks VICE).
But none of that matters if I'm single. Some relatives even tell me that all these "accomplishments" of mine are exactly what's getting in the way of me finding my true soulmate, because, you know, men must be too intimated to ask me out.
The list of frequently asked questions changes as you age. Back in university it was "when are you graduating?" even though you're only on your second year. If you already graduated, then it's "when are you getting a job?" If they don't know your age—or don't care—they ask "where's your girlfriend/ boyfriend?" Then it becomes "when are you getting married? Isn't it time?" and finally "when are you having kids? You don't have forever."
And then there's everything else. What else, you ask? This else:
"Why did you gain so much weight?"
What I want to say: Whatever, aunty, I'm on my 30th week.
Hey, why don't you sungkem? You owe me that much. You used to be such a trouble when you were little. So much trouble.
What I want to say: Oh God, you remember me as a kid? And here I barely remember your face. But if sungkem is all you need to boost your ego, then I'll do it my queen.
Where's your holiday bonus? Give me some.
What I want to say: I was broke when I didn't have a job. Now I have a job, but if everyone wants my money, I'll be broke regardless.
You should just resign. You deserve better! Your cousin makes so much more!
What I want to say: You can't possibly compare the salary of a journalist to that of an engineer at a multinational oil company.
Why are you still single? I'll introduce you to my friend's son. He's so handsome!
What I want to say: If you like him that much, then you go for it. I'm perfectly fine on my own.
Oh, do you know Adit? He went to the same school as you.
What I want to say: The campus was huge and there was obviously way more than one Adit. Please be more specific.
Did you get a nose job?
What I want to say:: Auntie, haven't you heard about contouring? You're just jealous.
Where have you been? How come I never see you at our family gatherings?
What I want to say: I've been out East on a quest to finding all the answers to these questions.