‘Social retardation’

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.

11 thoughts on “‘Social retardation’

  1. I had a similar experience, this recent raya with a particular makcik whom i deemed fit to have nothing nice come out from her mouth except for rubbishlikematerial.

    As i recently gave birth to my 4th child during ramadhan, after having a set of triplets just last year, she blatantly asked me, right in front of others if i am going to ‘sterilize’ myself so i won’t have anymore babies.

    She also questioned why i am not breastfeeding my son exclusively since my daughters are all toddlers and he is the ONLY infant so i SHOULD breastfeed him. Hey, it’s a personal choice. If i want to breastfeed or not, it’s my breasts what, not hers. My son pun tak bising tak dapat susu badan so why the fuss? She added that buying formula milk is expensive so i should stick to breastfeeding him.

    Of course i didn’t stoop to her level. I can choose to be as rude to her as she was to be but if i do the same, then i’ll be the same like her. No way.

    About the sterilizing part, i said that no matter what we do to make ourselves NOT pregnant, if Allah nak kasi, He will. About the breastfeeding and formula milk, i stressed to her in a nicely sarcastic manner that my daughters finished up 1 tin of similac within 3 days during their infancy but alhamdullillah, we were never short of cash to keep buying and feeding them till they sihat. Ye lah, kalau nak murah, lebih baik kasi air putih. *rolls eyes*

    I cannot tolerate people being rude to me when i am not rude to them. And for goodness sake, it’s hari raya where you seek forgiveness for all your past deeds. Seek forgiveness ke hapa if 1st day already tanya and say things to malukan orang? And the most pitiful part, it came from an aunt who is supposedly older, wiser than me in terms of agama.

    Tapi sayang mulut longkang.

  2. Another one…

    “Sihat kau sekarang! Makan beras apa??”

    Cakap cam kita budak2 lagi.

    But as always, I will tell them. “Alhamdullilah… I am happy and my husband feeds me well!” Sometimes tempted to add gaks, “Poor you! Skinny as ever! Tak cukup makan ke?” But I controlled myself… hehehe

  3. Salams, been a ‘silent’ follower but loving your entries. I am 28, single and happy. This post is super relevant to me. I was just asked the most famous question this eid “bila nak kawin”..and in my most demure-est (?) voice and cheeky smile, I answered said makcik, “entah eh, tungu makcik nak kawin lagi..” hehehe.

    your super right, though well-intended(i hope!) sometimes these way-too-personal questions should be taken with lots and lots of salt and if possible sprinkled back to their faces. (;

  4. my ‘best-est’ question ever from a super-SQ person came not from a makcik, but someone from our own generation. though it wasnt during raya.

    she was married a few mths ahead of us. and fortunately for her, she ‘bunting pelamin’ the mth immediately after. at her son’s majlis cukur rambut abt mths after my own wedding, she opened her mouth n asked for all around us to hear “ape korang buat salah eh? kenape belum sangkut lagi?”

    with all the graciousness i could muster (coz i didnt want to appear rude in front of my newly-minted husband), i continued smiling at her…

    “buat salah” ehh.. was i suppose to ask her to offer me a lesson how to make babies? coz she got pregnant immediately after, does it make her an expert on conceiving?

    best punye orang mcm gini..

  5. hehe.. i like tis post la. SUKER Sekali!

    ooohh.. tis raya, i kena almost all the hse i visited. But im kool abt it. Tanya la ko. aku senyum, n roll eyes je. Used to it. Anyway, i knew it coming, so am SO MENTALLY prepared. Give me your best shot baby! Im nt the kind to run away just cos im not married at a “young” age of 33.

    They even mentioned… kahwin lekas2, nanti kalo dah tua susah kalao beum kahwin. ko umur berapa, anak baru berapa tahun. bla bla bla… ape2 je makcik2 ni tau. ingat kahwin sekarang macam main masak2 eh?

    usually when they ask me.. i say besok kahwin.. ada kad jemputan tak? kalo takde tu, jgn datang.. tu saya tak jemput. nanti cerai, Cik datang ah. =)

    Tink next time, i nak try another trick. I tell them, Im GAY la makcik. Makcik ada anak lelaki nak kenal2 tak? kwang kwang kwang.. AMBIK Ko!

    Belum kahwin, dorang tanya bila nak kahwin. dah kahwin, nanti tanya, bila dapat anak. dah dapat anak, nanti dorang tanya bila nak dapat menantu and it goes on and on. Seriously, this Malay-ness kinda thinking need to be upgraded.

  6. hahaha…a very interesting post…i dont kno wif my daughter has ever been asked that..perhaps not cos we seldom visit relatives during raya…..its just us….anyway KL people are so busy no body seems to know whos married yet or not. …wh is a blessing I suppose. BUT if people do aske me I just say my daughter does nt want to get married…and usually no one says anything after that.

    btw selamat hari raya …maaf zahir batin…sori for not contacting for so long but ive been so busy…my daugter n family are all here and keeping me on my toes ….penat.

  7. Thanks for all the responses everyone. My main intention of writing this is to create awareness amongst our community especially that this problem is real and prevalent. And for those who have been a victim of it, please know that you are not alone and that there are probably hundreds or even thousands others who are sharing the same fate. Perhaps with more awareness, we can collectively react in the proper way or advise the culprits accordingly. Family gatherings are gatherings blessed by the angels above. It is sad that individuals avoid it at all costs just to avoid their encounter with rude and insensitive relatives….

  8. This is such an interesting post, and very apt for the festive season. Alhamdulillah I personally don’t get such questions, even though I’ve seen them happening every year. I agree with you in that these makcik2/pakcik2 usually don’t really know what to say or how to interact with others, hence resorting to offensive remarks they consider as jokes. In their perverse minds, that’s the way they strengthen ties or to show ‘kemesraan’ of sorts.

    As much as our religion proselytises kinship and ukhwah, I hold tightly onto what Prophet Muhammad’s saw said, ‘Speak well or remain silent’. And of all people, these makcik2/pakcik2 with no SQ should too.

  9. Fortunately I have never ever gotten such questions before cos my dad is really fierce (btol tak bedek) when I was single. The only thing they’d ask me is why am I always skinny. I remembered my mum telling me how a late uncle will ask in front of everyone when we come to his hse (during those Raya visits) whether she feeds her family properly cos my dad is the skinny type and apparently I also followed his genes. Unfortunately I was too small to answer bck. :p

    And now its my turn kena cos my girls are also skinny.

    “Eh, you never feed your girls with good food izzit? Cannot afford?”

    “Try lah eat salmon, multivits and drink bla bla bla bla.”

    Heartpain but well, I learn to smile cos it’s hb’s relatives most of the time and mil will be the one who’s the spokesperson…hehe. (of course after that I will bitch abt that person lah to the hb…lol!)

  10. Norza…
    Kurus salah, gemuk pun salah eh.
    This raya, I kena tanya all sorts of gemuk related questions. At first I laugh after that it gets annoying…Tak sangka orang kurus pun kena ek? LOL

    Ovenhaven,
    I agree with the hadith you pointed out. The problem is, these low SQians thinks that what they say is good, so they keep on saying it? But this is the generation who always listen to Warna FM so if this issue is brought up there, I think most would ‘terasa’…

  11. Agree with u that Warna should do something about it. Ria should too, because there are many young ones like that too. Damn, so should Suria!

    First it was “bila nak kawin?” Then “bila nak anak?” Ni da ada anak satu, they ask “bila No.2? Kesian anak takde kawan.”

    Have to admit one of your commentors kena very funny – “Sihat kau sekarang! Makan beras apa??” I mostly got “Badan dah naik? Ke No.2?” When I say in all honesty, da gemok lah skrg, they will reply “ooohhh mcm No.2 and 3 sekali kat dlm tu!” What the hell.

    A few years ago, one of my friends, when one of her makciks asked “Apasal blm ada anak lagi? Da lama kawin kan.. Kau tu gemok sangat agaknya.” She answered “Lu punya tekak jaga sikit ok makcik.” Makcik terus senyap and til now tak tanya2 lagi. Hahaha.

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