My mother likes to say that if you ever needed a clear sign that the world is going to the dogs, you only need to look at the number of people getting divorced.
“It’s just so easy to get divorced these days,” she told my sister recently. “Just look at your cousin Marie. Married for just two years and she’s separating from that lovely Mark.”
Michelle drew in a deep breath. “Mother, Marie walked into her bedroom to find that lovely Mark humping the housekeeper! What did you expect her to do?”
“For starters, how about not employing a housekeeper who looks like Miss Universe? How about that?” Mother sniffed at the stupidity of it all.
“Oh my God, if you start down that road, you might as well say that Mark could only work with ugly women in his office!”
“And how do you think office romances start in the first place, my dear? Why do you think I have always personally vetted all of your daddy’s secretaries? Men are weak!” Mother announced, allowing herself a slight frown. “A few flattering words from a semi-attractive woman and their knees are trembling for the rest of the day!”
“That’s not true!” Michelle said but, as Mother later told me, you could tell her heart wasn’t really in it.
“And why should it?” she told me on FaceTime. “Your sister may have many faults but her genes are flawless! From the moment she was born, she has had perfectly symmetrical features, large eyes and the kind of nose that plastic surgeons dream about! We’ve all seen how she uses her looks to her advantage her entire life!”
Saffy says my mother is spot on as usual. “Beautiful women get away with so much more,” she said with great dissatisfaction as she inspected her reflection in our hallway mirror. “Actually, what am I saying? That includes men! There’s this director in my company, John Ang? Did you ever meet him? Anyway, he’s dumb as two bricks but he looks like Chris Hemsworth and he’s up for his second promotion in three years!”
“Didn’t he just get divorced?” Amanda asked.
“Yep, that’s the one. He was having an affair with that Melanie chick from accounts and it was all caught on the office CCTV. Which only goes to prove how dumb they both were. Who has an affair and gets caught on the office CCTV?”
“Yah boy,” Sharyn said from the kitchen. She’d just arrived with snacks for afternoon tea and was busy unpacking the trays of kueh. “Got so many blinds spots in the office security system, but must go into the board room where got all the cam-uh-rer! So bodoh!”
“It all just makes me wonder why anyone would bother getting married in the first place,” Amanda said, emerging out of the kitchen with plates and cutlery.
“Well, no one gets married on the assumption that there’s going to be an affair and a divorce,” Saffy pointed out.
“That’s true, but I just don’t think people are as committed as they used to be. Jason’s mother is right. It’s just so easy to get divorced these days that I honestly think people don’t really try.”
“I don’t believe that,” Saffy said stubbornly. “I think most people really do try really hard. Who wants to go through the hassle of a divorce unless they really want to?”
“I think about die-vorce every day,” Sharyn observed as she speared half a kueh lapis into her mouth.
Three sets of eyes turned to look at her. She paused in mid-chew and turned pink at the sudden attention.
“Aiyah, think only, lah! How to die-vorce? So mah-fan, must sell the flat, split the children custody, aiyoh, sian, ah!”
“But you two love each other, right?” Saffy asked, doubt etched in every word.
“Of course, lah, but meh-lege hor, not easy, you know. Even if got love, must work and work all the time. And sum-time…haiyah, very tiring, leh!”
Later in the cab home, Amanda wondered aloud what the point of marriage is if you eventually get to a point when it just begins to feel like a lot of hard work just so you avoid having to divide the marital assets and children.
“Imagine thinking about divorcing your husband every single day,” she said.
“I think about quitting my job every day,” Saffy pointed out.
“Yes, but that’s your job.”
“Which is what a marriage is, according to Sharyn’s definition.”
“God, that’s depressing,” Amanda said, her childhood dream of the fairy-tale wedding and marriage disappearing like the HDB flats blurring past our taxi window.
Somewhere out there in the darkness, I was sure my mother was rolling her eyes.