By Kath C. Eustaquio-Derla
“My daughter is pregnant,” my aunt says. “We're having a big wedding!”
My mind goes blank. It feels like my brain has stopped functioning and I rendered myself unable to react like a human being during one of the most important social events of the year for our family—Christmas luncheon at my grandmother's place.
“O Kit, ikaw ang Maid of Honor a,” my aunt tells me. “Mga two months from now yung wedding. Itapat kaya natin sa Valentine's Day para mas sweet? Tulungan mo si Jill mag-ayos ng wedding a.”
I feel my mouth twitch, but no words come out. I try to keep my resting bitch face as calm as I could while Aunt Hilda blabs about the high profile friends she thinks she has. Everyone starts throwing awkward glances the minute she mentions getting a prominent drug lord as a godfather.
My aunt takes a sip of her lukewarm iced tea before dropping another bomb. “Bakit kayo ni Johnny hindi pa rin nagkaka-baby?” my aunt goes on. “Baka baog ka.”
Our relatives, who are busy mingling at the buffet table, stop to look at me. I feel their stares for five seconds before I start to feel my blood boil. My first instinct is to open my mouth and be the bitchy smartass who had been banned from attending these family reunions several times in the past.
Have you heard of condoms, Tita? I say in my head. They are just fabulous! And they're cheap too, compared to an early and obviously unplanned pregnancy.
Magaling po kasi ang boyfriend ko e. I continue to shout at her in my head. Gusto mo paturuan ko yung boyfriend ni Jill? Oh wait. Too late.
But no…I have to be the reformed bad girl so I respond with a simple nod. Instead of spewing word vomit, I grit my teeth and say, “Yup, no baby yet.” It takes so much energy to keep myself from puking out all the nasty comebacks I'm stringing together in my mind.
I find it absolutely amazing how my Aunt Hilda can spend all her time social-climbing and she still doesn't know a thing about class or tact.
My cousin Jill’s unplanned pregnancy came as a surprise, one that I would have let pass if not for her mother's very tactless comment. When did being single and childless at 27 become synonymous with impotence? I have heard many horror stories from single girlfriends who continue to be humiliated at family gatherings for not being married at the ripe old age of 28.
You hear one, you hear them all. I told myself that I will never allow myself to be pushed against the wall and be ridiculed for my choice to delay marriage for as long as I can. I made sure to arm myself with a mental list of nasty comebacks, few of which explain my last few MIAs (missing in action). But this…this is the first time that I have heard of an unmarried woman's child-bearing ability being attacked on a special non-working holiday. And out of all the single, strong, and stubborn women I know, this is happening to me.
I walk to the bar and looked for something stronger to calm me down before anger gets a better hold on me. I find some gin, pour myself a glass, and sip my anger away. In an alternate universe, I take out my gun and shoot Jill, who is grinning at me from the other side of the room. Pakyu kayong lahat, I scream in my head.
“Fuck them,” my good friend Rose screams over the phone. “Let me repeat. Fuck them!” I just spent the past fifteen minutes in die hard monologue trying to re-enact the scene at my family luncheon. As soon as I get back to my box-type studio in Ortigas, I call Rose and download all my angst.
Rose loves her expletives, which paved the way for our friendship to grow a few years after college. She's one of those tall, tan, thin women who can compete in the Miss Universe pageant. Rose has the looks. Unfortunately, she doesn't have the patience. Like me, she works in public relations instead.
“Leche a,” Rose continues to recite her Thesaurus of carefully chosen invectives. “Kailangan agad-agad mag-anak kapag twenty plus plus plus ka na? Hindi puwedeng masyado ka muna busy sa career mo? Hindi puwedeng busy ka kaka-travel? Putangina a.”
Is it really just Aunt Hilda’s lack of good breeding or are relatives now allowed to question your marital and maternal choices when you hit your late twenties? Apparently, when your friends start posting wedding photos on Facebook, even the most cynic of modern women would do one of the following:
a. Drop hints to your boyfriend about the possibility of *gulp* marriage.
b. Follow up with not-so-subtle hints about having babies someday, if not soon. How about nine months from now? Talk about meeting a deadline, especially if you're one of those paranoid chicks whose biological clocks tick a little louder than normal.
c. Move to another country, preferably one with a different time zone so you can effortlessly avoid calls from your parents who keep throwing tipoffs about enjoying their grandkids while they're still able.
d. Seriously consider the idea of social media blackout because you just can't look at another baby #selfie posted by your high school seatmate.
There was a time when I came too close to packing my bags and moving to another country, one where I can start a brand new life away from pesky relatives.
Unfortunately, I am too chicken to move too far from comfort so I moved out instead. Besides, is there a country where women are not bombarded with marital inquiries? I can take a hint, sure. What really ticks me off is that these once personal inquiries are not limited to family anymore. These days, even your neighbor's guest can casually ask about your marital status and ungraciously leave you with unsolicited advice about getting married soon. How did we get this way? When did decency become a novelty?
But who could blame them really? You see, I am not actually single.
Read Chapter 2: Steak Dinners and Big Spenders
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Kath C. Eustaquio-Derla is a journalism graduate from the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines. She wrote Bedroom Blog by Veronica, a relationship blog for Cosmopolitan Philippines from 2009 to 2011, which covers most of her single dating life. In 2015, she published her first book Before I Do. She’s passionate about coffee, red wine, books and Mad Men. She stopped collecting hearts when she got married in 2013 and went back to collecting Archie Comics ever since. Send the author a tweet @kceustaquio.
Edits: Paula Bianca Abiog
Before I Do
Philippine Copyright © 2015 by Katherine C. Eustaquio-Derla
Disclaimer: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, places or persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental. Image from Pexels.com.
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