Two of a Kind
Writer: Julya Ooi
Published: Fri, 01 Jul 2011
“I can believe how dumb boys are!” Stephanie threw her hobo bag on the floor and jumped onto the sofa next to her mother.
“He doesn’t even know I’m angry with him!
Let alone what I’m angry about!”
Sylvia, her mother, removed her reading glasses and set aside the novel to accommodate her daughter’s teenage crisis of being in love. She held back a tickling sensation rising from her throat as she patted her daughter’s clenched hands.
“Mom, is it always like that?”
“Boys! Men! Are they … will they always be so – so dumb as to not know how women feel?”
Sylvia could not restrain herself anymore and released the giggles she had accumulated over the years from having gone through the battle of the sexes herself.
“What’s so funny, mom?”
“I said the same thing once when I was about your age,” she said, stifling her laughter. Her body shuddered from the humour.
“So why is it funny?”
Sylvia looked into her daughter’s eyes and smiled. “I don’t know how it started or whether it is a true fact that men are that way. But I was in the same dilemma as you are now when I first met your dad.”
“But you and dad look so good together.”
“It wasn’t always that way,” Sylvia said. “There was a lot of give and take on our part.”
“What, does one have to compromise to make a relationship work?” Stephanie cringed.
“Compromise sounds like a business transaction. It’s not like that. Or at least it shouldn’t be.”
“What is it then?”
“Well, it’s not about sacrificing the things you love for the sake of the other person. It’s about sharing yourself with someone while keeping your personal space at the same time.”
Sylvia smiled. “You’ll know what to do when the time comes.”
“I don’t know if it will ever come. I’m, like, so fed up already. I mean, it’s not like I’m asking too much is it? I only want them to know how I feel.”
Sylvia clasped her hand over her daughter’s. “This thing about love is quite a handful.”
“Mom, how did you and dad end up knowing you were meant for each other?” Stephanie propped herself up sideways to realign her gaze at her mother.
Sylvia fell into a quick reverie as she recalled the times when she was young and restless like her daughter.
“We didn’t. In fact, we didn’t even want to be together in the first place.”
“Really? Then why did the two of you get married?” Stephanie suddenly turned ashen and opened her mouth wide enough to let out a sigh. “You didn’t plan to have me?”
“Of course we did,” she reassured her daughter. “You were and will always be a part of our plans. When your father and I met, we started out as friends. It was through our heartbreaks and failed relationships that we found each other. At first, I was reluctant to start anything because your father was not my type. I was always searching for that ‘true love’s kiss’ and waiting to fall head over heels in love. Although I did experience that feeling a few times, it didn’t happen with
your father even once.”
“You mean never? Not at all?” Stephanie juggled her hands in disbelief.
Sylvia laughed. “I know. I thought so too. All my friends said it wasn’t real love when that happens, but I continued seeing your father. And through the years we learnt to love each other much more than we both realised.”
“How did that happen? I mean, is he romantic?”
“You father is far from romantic. He always gets me the things that I don’t like or the things that I have no use of. His romantic dinner is going to a pasar malam, and his idea of romance is going for a hike in Gasing hill.”
Sylvia laughed heartily and her daughter laughed along.
“He’s not as good-looking as the other guys I used to date and he cannot even charm a cat to a bowl of milk. But his ability to make me laugh and look at the world from the bright side is more than anything anyone has ever given me. We are both two of a kind. We are so different in so many ways, and everyone thought it would be over before it could even get started.
“I really don’t know much about love, Stephanie. I don’t know what are the rules or criteria to make it last for as long as it can. But the one thing I learnt from your father is the honesty of being who we truly are to each other. It’s because we had no expectations, we also didn’t have any pretenses.”
The door creaked open to draw their attention away.
“John, you’re back early.”
“Hey, Stephanie.” He waved. “Look Sylvia, I found this vase at a garage sale which I thought you may like.”
He presented it to them with his hand held high: a gaudy-looking vase embellished with mismatched beads and shells.
Sylvia and Stephanie laughed so hard and got John to laugh along, although he didn’t know what exactly he was laughing about.