Tender is the Night – III

Ah, let’s be done with the political hullabaloo in our land. Let’s have something soothing; something to ponder upon tonight as cloudless sky paves way for million of stars to sparkle down at us. Yesterday, I received a letter from a friend – a dear, dear friend if I may add – about love and marriage. A correspondence of which, left me positively dumbfounded and none-the-wiser.

I dedicate this post to my girlfriends – far as they may be from my eyes but always close in my heart – Aryati, Yanti, Noren, Kak Long, Ren, Nurul, Ijan, Masleena, Basyirah, Norli, Oyern, Raja Riza, Leeya, Harita and last but not not least Liza Rasool Khan. To those names I have left out, please understand that I am older and hence the memory loss!

Excerpts of my dear friend’s letter or parts thereof are as follows:

Someone told me once that if I ever wanted to read about love and marriage, I ought to try reading two separate books. At first, I thought that he was perhaps being too cynical, or that he wasn’t actually playing with a full set of marbles. But now, as I get older (and hopefully wiser), I find myself agreeing with him more and more every day.

I am not saying that love and marriage can never intersect: They do. But alas, because of the nature of both beasts, this happens only in very rare and special cases. Love and marriage colliding in the same relationship does not happen nearly as often as we think or hope that it does. Trying to look for love in marriage is a tragedy that has beset mankind since Hollywood invented the movies and Mills and Boone started the romance genre.

I have long since stopped looking at marriage for the things that love brings. I have also stopped looking at love for the things that marriage brings. Asking for oranges from an apple tree is sure to bring about despair – as I have found out countless times. It is best to look at marriage only for the things that marriage can offer. Similarly, it is best to look at love only for the things that love can offer. Though some lucky couple may (occasionally) find love in marriage and vice versa, this is the exception rather than the rule. Even then, it is likely that this will only happen after years and years of devotion to the marriage.

This is my take on marriage, Mish. People look at their precious orchid plant and lament that there are no flowers. They often fail to see that the bud the orchid has just sprouted may someday turn into a beautiful flower, perhaps the most beautiful thing they will ever see. But this may happen (if it happens at all) only if that fledgling plant is lovingly nurtured and cared for. Immediately expecting beautiful flowers from that fledgling plant is a sure-fire recipe for setting ourselves up for disappointment. Instead, appreciate the bud for what it is, and care for the plant with all our might, knowing that it is only a bud and not a flower. Find joy and a sense of belonging in the bud. Who knows, some day it might just turn into a flower.

My dear friend’s statement shook my ground to the core. Have I misconstrued marriage so royally that I still expect the sparks and fireworks to come my way? Or have I, like many millions of women out there, fatally equate love to marriage in our own detriment? I can hardly blame Mas for completely giving up on love. I have seen enough suffering love have caused her. How can I make her understand that love and marriage is as far-fetched as an apple and an orange can be?

For love, as long as I understand it to be, is “to cherish and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness or in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part“. Sadly, in this cynical world, those words sound hollow in definition; its spirit trampled upon as we chase everything else in life. Have we become so jaded with selfishness that we forget what love is all about?

Just like Othello, I wear my heart upon my sleeve and more often than not, I make a complete fool out of myself being in love. I am sure, my friends named above, are nodding their heads vigorously agreeing to this statement. For I am still a raging lunatic believing in those ridiculous fire and sparks that love can bring. And this letter shines the light of truth onto my naive belief. Love and marriage is apparently an exception to the general rule. To those married people out there, let’s just hope that yours is just like the orchid – seldom in giving its bloom but strong in the roots.

Tell me friends, how come we are so wrong for so long? A thousand times good nights.

(A very dear friend – if you are tuning in – you know who you are, right?)


32 thoughts on “Tender is the Night – III

  1. Elviza,

    You have grown up to be so wise. How old were you when I was teaching you? 15?

    I forgot to tell you all that marriage and love has got nothing to do with the other. I learn thru hard way myself.


    Alas, we all have to learn in our own pace right? Glad to see you here again. Thanks a million.

  2. Adik, interesting sangat post ni….

    Boleh tak you tulis dalam bahasa pulak? I nak link kat blog I.

    Terima kasih…..

    Dear Kak Ramlah,

    InsyaAllah, I ll try to tend to your request whenever time permits. Thank you for reading.

  3. Elviza,

    I was trying to finish my presentation when this post catch my eye.

    It is so insightful and true that I feel a huge stone blocking my throat. Will go back and kiss the wife, just in case she wants it.

    Men normally forget that they are fools. Me back to work

    p/s: the wife loves your blog too and she said she met you once at Curve @ Borders reading to the children. How noble!

    Dear A Reader,

    I hope I didn’t disturb you in any way. And please give her that kiss whether or not she needs it.

    Your wife and kids (I assume) was there during my reading session? Oh, it would be nice if she said hello. I’ll let you know my next session at borders. Take care.

  4. Miss Writer,

    I think, I am falling in loooooooooovvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeeeeeee with you!

    don’t tell your husband. Takuuuuuuuttttttt 🙂

    Kuda Lari,

    I am sure if he reads this (he’s not) he will be laughing his head off. Thank you anyway for being so sweet.

  5. 🙂



    Tsk tsk tsk tsk… perempuan dan hati mereka…


    And you supposed men don’t have hearts, do they?

  6. Come across your blog from sheih’s.

    I can never forget the look on my father’s face on the day my mother was buried. I can never forget the tears, the sadness, the anguish on his wrinkle face.

    Though I too feel despair and sadness, I can’t decipher the sadness on my father’s face that day.

    It was many months later that I came to realize what I saw is different from what I feel. The tears, the anguish, it tells a thousand words.

    A thousand words of happiness. A thousand words of love, of care and attention he received. Happiness, love, care for more than fourty years of his life.

    That day he lost something very precious in his life. His tears tells it all.

    It haunts me till now. For many years, I keep on wondering whether 40 or 50 years from now, will I feel what my father have felt. Would I have the same kind of love, care and attention for the rest of my days. Would or wouldn’t I?

    My father is just your average old man whom you met everyday. Yet in every man’s heart, there is always a boy who wants attention and love from a girl.

    And he has that for 40 over years of his life.

    His face tells it all.

    Dear Alhadee,

    Welcome to my humble home and I am happy you could relate to this post. When my grandfather passed away, my grandmother cried for months. After that, she is never the same again. Sad huh?

    Thank you for sharing with me your story and your father is a lucky man. What else can I say?

    Take care and I hope I see here again.

  7. Hai Elviza,
    Interesting thoughts, but my wife used to think that love & marriage is like a fairy tales. It takes sometimes to convince her that fairytales are good in movies only but not in real life.

    Take sometimes to proof her that loves can also be well demonstrated in silence and gestures instead of just the usual hugs & kisses.

    Used to wait for years before my birds of paradise blooms, it’s worth it because it’s so beautiful and last for months.

    Dear Jaff,

    Never thought you’d leave a comment on something femine like the contents of this post. I have been guilty of believing in that fairy tale for so long. Now, I grow up a little. 🙂

    I am sure your bird of paradise looks like a piece of heaven. Take care my friend.

  8. Sis Elviza,

    Besides your great mind, you are also very lyrical. “Cloudless sky paves way for million stars to sparkle down at us” makes me spellbound and in awesome wonder.

    Now I understand why my soulmate didn’t choose me. If she loves somebody the way I love her, what’s wrong with me?

    She and I remain as best of friends. She makes a point to visit me with her hubby every year. They just spent a week with me and left exactly last Wed.

    Her husband told me, besides his wife, I have added meaning to his life.

    Well, he is one of the finest with a big heart.

    Bro Cheang,

    What can I say? I am an incurable romantic! Much to my own detriment. This story of yours is unique. I have known plenty of lovers who part on bitter terms without looking at each other’s face, ever again. It shows what a big heart you have and I am proud to be your friend.

  9. This piece has persuaded me to reassess my own affair of the heart and my marriage.

    Is that the reality? That more often than not, marriage and love are like an emulsion of water and oil; with clear demarcation seperating one from another?

    Mich, I think your friend’s orchid analogy is quite apt. However, from my humble eyes, the blooming of the orchid is not the epitome of love. Rather, the hardwork, determination, selflessness, dedication and faith that we put in, with the hope of seeing the flower someday, are what I call love.

    The blooming of the orchid marks the end of the story. But then again, even if there’s no flower in the end, it does not mean the journey has been loveless…

    Here’s my hope and prayer for all my girlfriends to find love and happiness in their marriage.

    Much love,

    O my friend,

    You, of all persons I know, surfaced above the mean facets of love. And hence this wise observation. Now, you take a good rest you hear? Don’t overdo anything. I am sure you and Azhar have plenty of blooms in your orchid. Love ya.

  10. Sis Elviza,

    Ms O made interesting observation of the orchid in full bloom.

    Well, love is work in progress until death do them part.

    Bro Cheang,

    Ms O is an old friend of mine. She grew up with experience and dare I say, heartbreaks as well. And today she has every reasons to be happy with the choice she made. I can hardly wait to be an aunt again. Love you O.

  11. Sis Elviza,

    My friend married his childhood sweetheart cos she was reserved and simple. But once he became successful, she turned really mean.

    Now I understand in part we are made up of a persona and a shadow. Our persona is the image we want others to think of us and the shadow is the thing we hope to keep from public view.

    Brother Cheang,

    We often fool ourselves and it hurts to know how wronged we have been. I am sorry to hear about your friend. To me, we are all made of different stuff but we must always remember who we are at the end of the day…

  12. Hi Elviza

    I am back to blogging. Very insightful post. I say, you have not misconstrued marriage. Everyone has a different take on love and marriage. It all depends on their personal experiences – be it good or bad.

    When I read this post, I immediately thought of John Denver’s song (he sang a duet with Placido Domingo). Here’s his thoughts about love:

    Perhaps love is like a resting place
    A shelter from the storm
    It exists to give you comfort
    It is there to keep you warm
    And in those times of trouble
    When you are most alone
    The memory of love will bring you home

    Perhaps love is like a window
    Perhaps an open door
    It invites you to come closer
    It wants to show you more
    And even if you lose yourself
    And don’t know what to do
    The memory of love will see you through

    Oh, love to some is like a cloud
    To some as strong as steel
    For some a way of living
    For some a way to feel
    And some say love is holding on
    And some say letting go
    And some say love is everything
    And some say they don’t know

    Perhaps love is like the ocean
    Full of conflict, full of pain
    Like a fire when it’s cold outside
    Or thunder when it rains
    If I should live forever
    And all my dreams come true
    My memories of love will be of you

    Sister Jac,

    Haven’t heard this song so long! Off to find the CD.

  13. ah, what a coinicident! it was only 18 minutes ago that i renewed my vow to stay true to my girl.

    its in the air huh, them love bugs?

    everybody all together now…

    ‘Love is in the air, everywhere i look around…
    love is in the air, la lala lala lala…’


    You, as always, bring a smile to my face: all the time…

  14. This post on love and mariage is quite profound. How about the sage advice for men to “marry someone who loves you, not whom you love”? Isn’t in unfair to the women? Or is it a win-win for the married couple?

    I’ve yet to make the breakthrough. It’s getting there … just bear with me.

    My dearest friend aMiR,

    I heard the saying too, “marry someone who loves you more, ” and I couldn’t make a head or tail out of it for I am still an idiot.

    Life, as they often say it, is hardly fair.

    Am waiting for your blog.

  15. We find love when we are not looking. We find love from the least likeliest. This is true for me. Fortunately we married. Fortunately we are still married. I lie if I say I never thought of whether we are still together because of love or because of the convenience marriage brings. But fortunately I don’t have to ponder on it for too long.
    I’d like to believe that my marriage is the exception to the rule. I have yet to find another soulmate who understands me they way he does and the way I do him. What’s unique is that I am much older and yet we relate to each other in ways that even our children find mind boggling.
    Thanks for the reminder though….

    Note: Remember me? Remember my name???

    Dearest my old teacher, Miss Han,

    You read this crap too? I am coiling in shame for I am sure that you found many mistakes in my syntax and grammar: a result of not paying attention while you were teaching!

    I gather you are one of those lucky few to be in the position that you are right now. I am immensely happy for you. The fact that you are older (am sure by not much!) holds little bearing or nothing at all for love transcends all barriers.

    You have children? Back in MRSM you were single and hot! 🙂

    I have one boy myself and I call him “nyawa Mommy” every single day. I am sick!

  16. Hi Elviza (or sis Elviza more appropriately to pay my respect),

    I have been a silent reader and have enjoyed all of your posts, thank you so much and am called to drop a note with this particular post.

    What an insight your friend has on love and marriage but I believe she is one of the selected strong ones to have experienced such suffering with love. I, on the other hand, have the same expectation on love as yours. I, for one, care so much for a person more than that person could care for me. Love can make you defenseless I guess, but you tend to forget all the wounds and doubts when you’re with your love. Now only I can understand how love can blind a person and I am losing the grip still sometimes.

    I ll love generously and cautiously, and I hope everybody else will too.

    Take care sis, your writings do soothe me. Thank you. You really are – a fairgift.

    Hello Sister Diana,

    You are one of those huh? When you love, you throw caution into the wind, feel like shouting on top of the roof and nothing else matters? 🙂 God is great isn’t He? But still my dear, hearts on fire are hearts in danger. Keep having those grips, just in case.

    I sincerely hope that my future writings will sooth you further. Until then…

  17. Mish,

    We talked about this before back when we were in UK over marlboro light and *ahem, huk huk huk!*

    Years later we still naive to keep believing. But I believed and I still believe that he will change. He will.

    And this friend of yours, who sent you the letter, is mad. That s what she is.

    I surely know this person am I? Dia panggil ko Mish apa? Huh?

    Call me

    Dear Aku (macam bagus jer…),

    Marlboro lights? Damn I miss it!

    Keep believing my dear friend, we are all mortals after all. I love you.

  18. Shell,

    Aduh, ouch, hoi! Sighhhh…

    Why do you have to state the obvious and make me rethink all this shit I forgotten I need already?

    Hampeh lah kau nih.

    Why? So that we won’t have our heads in the clouds forever! thats why… You suck yourself. Tra la la la la tra lalalalala. Balek kol baper hari nih?

  19. Elviza,

    I can write so many things about love and marriage; what I believe it should be; how it turned out; my expectations; my disappointments; my joys; my delusions and my heartaches.

    But I won’t, because I can’t quite gather my thoughts yet at this point in time…

    I can however paste this lovely, enlightening , refreshing piece about love and marriage from the Islamic perspective, ( a change from our usual delusions and preoccupations with the western perception of love, sex and marriage, which can’t help but permeate our psyche) which basically sums up how I really feel about love and what I need from a marriage (however, both parties need to have the same beliefs for it to work):

    Marriage in Islam

    by Shahina Siddiqui

    “And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in peace and tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect” (Quran 30:21).

    “O Humans revere your Guardian Lord, Who created you from a single person created of like nature its mate, and from this scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Reverence Allah through Whom you claim your mutual rights” (Quran 4:1).

    The above verses of the Quran lay out the framework as to what are the basis, the objectives and the goal of marriage in Islam. In the ultimate Wisdom of Allah we are first told that both partners man and woman are created from the same source. That this should be paid attention to as it is one of His signs.

    The fact that we come from the same soul signifies our equality as humans, when the essence of our creation is the same, the argument of who is better or greater is redundant. To stress on this fact and then to talk about marriage in the same verse is of great significance for those of us who are in the field of marriage counseling.

    The shift in this attitude of equality of genders as human beings cause a imbalance in marital relation ship that leads to dysfunctional marriage. When ever one party considers themselves superior or above the law there is a shift in the balance of power that may lead to misuse or abuse of power as the less valuable partner is seen as an easy prey. Many marital difficulties are based on or caused by control and rule stratagem.

    By stressing on the equality of all humans men or women and making it the basis of marriage, Allah in His infinite wisdom has laid the ground rules for establishing peace, as well as the assigning of different roles to husband and wife as functional strategy rather than a question of competence as humans.

    Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) has stated that: “men and women are twin halves of each other” (Bukhari). This Hadith also brings home the fact that men and women are created from single source. Furthermore, by using the analogy of twin half the Prophet has underlined the reciprocal nature and the interdependent nature of men and women’s relationship.

    The objective and the goal of marriage in Islam according to the above Quranic verse is to enable us to dwell in peace and tranquility. It is important for us to reflect on these words and their significance in the Islamic frame of reference.

    In order to have peace certain condition must be met. These prerequisites to peace are Justice, Fairness, Equity, Equality, and fulfillment of mutual rights. Therefore any injustice whether it is oppression, or persecution, cannot be tolerated if there is to be peace in Muslim homes.

    In the domestic realm oppression is manifested when the process of Shura (consultation) is compromised, neglected or ignored. When one partner (in most cases the husband) makes unilateral decisions and applies dictatorial style of leadership, peace is compromised. Persecution is present when there is any form of domestic abuse being perpetrated.

    Tranquility on the other hand is a state of being which is achieved when peace has been established. Tranquility is compromised when there is tension, stress and anger. It is a mistake to take tranquility to mean perpetual state of bliss. Since being Muslims does not make us immune to tragedies and catastrophes.

    In fact Allah tells us in the Quran that we will be tried (2:155,57). What a state of tranquility does is to empower us to handle life’s difficult moments with our spouses as obedient servants of Allah. Allah in His infinite Mercy also provides us with the tools by which we can achieve this state of peace and tranquility.

    The second principle besides Shura on which the Islamic family life is based is Mercy (Rehma), and in this verse Allah is telling us that He has placed mercy between spouses. We are therefore inclined by our very nature to have mercy for our spouses. Mercy is manifested through compassion, forgiveness, caring and humility.

    It is obvious that these are all ingredients that make for a successful partnership. Marriage in Islam is above all a partnership based on equality of partners and specification of roles. Lack of mercy in a marriage or a family renders it in Islamic terms dysfunctional.

    Allah further states that He has also placed in addition to mercy, love between spouses. It should however be noted that Islamic concept of love is different from the more commonly understood romantic love so valued in the Western cultures.

    The basic difference is that love between man and woman in the Islamic context can only be realized and expressed in a legal marriage. In order to develop a healthy avenue for the expression of love between man and woman and to provide security so that such a loving relationship can flourish, it is necessary to give it the protection of Shariah (Islamic law).

    Marital love in Islam inculcates the following:

    Faith: The love Muslim spouses have for each other is for the sake of Allah that is to gain His pleasure. It is from Allah that we claim our mutual rights (Quran 4:1) and it is to Allah that we are accountable for our behavior as husbands and wives.

    It sustains: Love is not to consume but to sustain. Allah expresses His love for us by providing sustenance. To love in Islam is to sustain our loved one physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, to the best of our ability (to sustain materially is the husbands duty, however if the wife wishes she can also contribute)

    Accepts: To love someone is to accept them for who they are. It is selfishness to try and mould someone as we wish them to be. True love does not attempt to crush individuality or control personal differences, but is magnanimous and secure to accommodate differences.

    Challenges: Love challenges us to be all we can, it encourages us to tap into our talents and takes pride in our achievements. To enable our loved one to realize their potential is the most rewarding experience.

    Merciful: Mercy compels us to love and love compels us to have mercy. In the Islamic context the two are synonymous. The attribute Allah chose to be the supreme for Himself is that He is the most Merciful. This attribute of Rehman (the Merciful) is mentioned 170 times in the Quran, bringing home the significance for believers to be merciful. Mercy in practical application means to have and show compassion and to be charitable.

    Forgiving: Love is never too proud to seek forgiveness or too stingy to forgive. It is willing to let go of hurt and letdowns. Forgiveness allows us the opportunity to improve and correct our selves.

    Respect: To love is to respect and value the person their contributions and their opinions. Respect does not allow us to take for granted our loved ones or to ignore their input. How we interact with our spouses reflects whether we respect them or not.

    Confidentiality: Trust is the most essential ingredient of love. When trust is betrayed and confidentiality compromised, love loses its soul.

    Caring: Love fosters a deep fondness that dictates caring and sharing in all that we do. The needs of our loved ones take precedence over our own.

    Kindness: The Seerah (biography) of our beloved Prophet is rich with examples of acts of kindness, he showed towards his family and particularly his wives. Even when his patience was tried, he was never unkind in word or deed. To love is to be kind.

    Grows: Marital love is not static it grows and flourishes with each day of marital life. It requires work and commitment, and is nourished through faith when we are thankful and appreciative of Allah blessings.

    Enhances: Love enhances our image and beautifies our world. It provides emotional security and physical well being.

    Selflessness: Love gives unconditionally and protects dutifully.

    Truthful: Love is honesty without cruelty and loyalty without compromise.

  20. Dear Kak Elviza,

    Woman need to feel love in order to make one,
    Man need to make it in order to feel loved,
    Either way for love to materialise ,both got to give way and meet in the middle otherwise it becomes the fate of two parallel lines which according to my teacher, (in order to maintain the parallality as defined by the law) they need to stay apart…basically agreeing to disagree.

    To me thats the beauty of Allah’s creation

    Mr Kalahari( I am Hot)

    Dear Mr Kalahari (I am Hot),

    Tell me, Sir, how do you manage to swing the topic from love and marriage to love and sex so swiftly? Ah, the folly of men!

  21. Elviza,

    I refer to your reply to Diana above, “hearts on fire are hearts in danger.”

    How do you come up with such a true analogy. I called the girl I am in love with (but I am sure about her) to read this blog.

    I am seing her after work. Wish me luck.

    Oh, thank you by the way for being so honest. You are a rare gift to the writing community or should I say blogging?

  22. Au contraire my dear… I am proud that you have the gift to write such beautiful and insightful prose. The testimonials of your fans should have you holding your head up high. Albeit a little jealous that I can’t write as well as you but I concede that teachers are mere bridges to help their students to reach the other side. And you have reached even beyond. I will be just another adoring fan who awaits your story of Hassan…..

  23. Sis Elviza,

    Am very touched by Miss Han’s compliments to your talent. “Teachers merely bridges to help their students to reach the other side.” Where will we be without our teachers? Their patience and faith in us were priceless.

    Whether we realise it or not, teachers have a great influence on our lives well into our twilight years cos they were our first contact with the outside world.

    Teaching is a calling, not just a job.

    Bravo, Miss Han, for nurturing students like Elviza. Not only is she a good writer, but I see a bright candle in her.

  24. Sorry to intrude people. But it takes three to love and marry, not two. The third is God. With God I safely say love and marriage will be 99.99 good. Pure gold.

  25. Elviza,
    Your beautiful prose never ceases to amaze me. Like others, this post has got me thinking – no make that – overanalysing about the state of my own matrimony.

    Like you, I’m a diehard romantic and given the chance, would prefer to continue seeing the world through a pair of rose-tinted glasses. But alas, life has other plans and I’d to learn the hard way.

    The thoughts that a non-alignment of love and marriage never cross my idealistic mind. After all, isn’t love or the prospect of being loved the catalyst for all marriages?

    But, I’ve heard enough of faltering marriages and marital burnout to keep those thoughts in check.

    At the end of the day, it’s what you do with the cards you’re dealt with that counts.

    By the by, paraphrasing a line from The Sound of Music, “I’ve a fiendish delight thinking of you as a naive lawyer.” 🙂 Then again, law is just a profession, not the accurate yardstick to which one judges a character.

    Have a great weekend.

  26. Elviza,

    Such a beautiful, and very profound piece of writing… yet again 🙂

    A phrase about love and marriage that I find pretty apt, but sometimes sidelined by many –

    ” You don’t marry someone whom you can live with, but, someone whom you can’t live without…”

    Cheers, sis 😉

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