In one of the years in the last decade, Hari Raya coincided with Chinese New Year and I remember having a conversation about our respective celebrations with a colleague by our cubicles at work. Then in her 30s and not yet married, on top of that being single and not dating anyone, I remembered her telling me that she was going to make use of that long holiday for a trip to somewhere nearby and just chill out.
For what? I asked her.. ‘if I were you, I stay to get my ang pows!’ of course, referring to the Chinese culture that singles still get ang pows or red packets containing money from visiting relatives and friends during the Chinese New Year celebrations. She smirked and rolled her eyes, saying that she’d rather forgo all the red packets, than having to face ‘kaypoh’ relatives asking the viciously insensitive questions of ‘when are you getting married?’ ‘why till now no boyfriend?’ ‘you high maintainance is it?’ ‘ eh not shy ah you left on the shelves?’ ‘ eh go get married lah, cialat lah you so old I must still give you angpow’
Of course, at that time I just laughed it all off with ‘ thank God my Hari Raya is not that drama’ comment. Firstly, I don’t remember any of my relatives being that orally brutal, secondly, I had the answers to the questions all ready in the mental suitcase. I was in my early 20s, just starting my career, had a boyfriend then (whom fortunately did NOT become my husband!) and hence I was in the comfort zone of ‘ask them silly question and thou shalt be answered!’. I was not as unlucky as my colleague then.
However, my ex-colleague was one of the probably thousands out there who are victims of what I term as ‘people with low SQ’. SQ, or ‘Social Quotient’ refers to the measure of social skills one has, not unlike IQ or the level of intelligence in a person or the much talked about EQ- emotional quotient these days.
I have been observing for many, many years, (and have also occasionally been a victim of some), on how people with low SQ prey during the festive seasons, when they know that everyone is listening. Festive seasons are times when families and extended families meet and be merry. Friends who have lost touch meet again, to renew ties and ask for forgiveness or for the good old times sake. On paper, festive seasons are joyous occasions indeed, time to look forward to and get excited about.
But on the contrary, festive seasons can be the leper or the pariah to be avoided by many individuals, for fear of their encounter with relatives with low SQ. In laymen’s term ‘foul mouth/insensitive/mulut longkang/askstupidquestions/purposely set out to embarress/etc’.
Examples of these, usually asked in the presence of the entire clan of relatives or other attendees of the festive events are:
” Oi Cik Kak.. kamu tu usia dah senja.. bila nak kawin ni? Kita tunggu makan nasi minyak dah lama dahhh’
“Aik.. kawin dah lama anak satu pon takde?! Kau sakit apa?!”
“Eh you got boyfriend or not?! He work as what? Got degree or not?!”
“You work so hard, takkan tak mampu beli kereta? Beli lah condo ke, landed property ke”
and it goes on and on. The above are collections from personal friends. If you have been a victim of these low SQ relatives, feel free to add on.
It has, however been pointed out to me that these relatives, most of which are in the makciks/pakciks category (although the pakciks during raya usually start any meetings of sorts by bitching about Malaysian politics, and I am not kidding!), they intended no harm. It is just their way of starting conversations and that’s the only way they know how to do it, by attracting attention to themselves, by picking up a scapegoat to be laughed at or by joking. Yes, they really think that they are joking, these low SQians, although no one else finds their remarks or jokes remotely funny. In my humble opinion, whether or not they intend any harm, it is rude. Period. No one should be made the scapegoat of entertaining others, especially about something that is so personal.
So. For those of you who have been victimized by these low SQians or in my term ‘social retards’, there are proactive measures you can take.
1. Smile and act stupid
2. Pretend that you have blocked ears because water from the shower went all the way in.
3. Entertain their FAQs. And for the suggestions to their FAQs, I have some, in case they are useful for you, please feel free to use them.
For the questions of ‘Bila nak kawin ni?’
– ” Saya tunggu laki makcik ceraikan makcik ye.. lepas tu kita kawin lah. Ticket feri nak pegi Batam pun saya dah sediakan…’
‘Bila kita boleh makan nasi minyak you?’
– ‘ Bila free? I ajak you gi Arab Street sekarang pun boleh. Pulun lah berapa pinggan nasi minyak you terdaya… sumpah I belanja!’
For the questions ‘Bila nak dapat anak ni? Dah lama kawin takde apa-apa lagi ke??’
– “Jap lagi saya balik saya tengok dalam tong sampah eh, entah ada yang orang buang ke, boleh saya pungut!”
– ” Makcik free tak besok? Boleh tolong buatkan?”
For the questions ” Rumah berapa bilik?/ada kereta apa?/Kerja apa-Gaji berapa?…’
– ‘Rumah saya takde bilik. Tidur dalam khemah kat East Coast? Makcik nak join? Boleh kita buat bbq’.
– ‘Kereta saya besar makcik. Brand KTM. Makcik sekaum sepuak nak tompang pon boleh’.
– ‘Saya kerja dengan orang bunian makcik. Gajinya sebesar istana kayangan’
But of course, if you were to use any of the above, do it tongue in cheek, not in rudeness. Do not stoop to their level by having no manners yourselves. Treat it as a big joke and then laugh it all off afterwards. And then, one can really see that it is really silly to be affected by these low SQians come every festive season or weddings or any events in which relatives and friends gather.
May I also suggest Radio Warna/Ria do a segment on these? With more awareness of social quotient, together we can make the supposedly beautiful festive season a less stressful period for many individuals, whom I know are dreading it year after year.