Forgive me – this is a repost. It was originally written and published on my now-defunct wedding blog a few short days before the Boy and I got married, then transferred to my now-defunct personal blog when I quickly grew bored of writing about one day in my life. But it seems so very apt to this space, that I feel a need to share it yet again. Because really, our decision to consciously start trying to have a baby is rather an arbitrary point in time to choose as the beginning of our journey. We’ve been working toward this point for years, with or without knowing it. So this, I think, is more truly where things can be said to have begun…
A boy and girl met when they were quite literally just a boy and a girl. They played together, ran together, skinned their knees on the same rough ground, and kept each other’s childish secrets, until one day when they suddenly weren’t quite children anymore, but definitely weren’t yet adults. In that moment their world shifted. They became boyfriend and girlfriend and declared themselves to be in love.
Time passed, how much I do not know as I am hazy on the details. After a false start because the boy couldn’t tear himself away from his love, they found themselves drinking deep from the bittersweet cup of long-distance love. A boy and girl lived for summer holidays. A girl worked and saved all her money to be able to visit her boy in the land of milk and honey, where the streets were paved with gold and opportunity knocked twice a day. He got through one degree, she did the same back in their humble home town. It was during the second that they found their lives changed beyond all recognition.
The boy can remember the phone conversation as if it happened yesterday. The girl called. She sounded so small, so young, so terrified. ‘I’m pregnant’, she said. ‘Let’s get married’, was his immediate reply. ‘I will not have a child born out of wedlock.’ No doubt, no questioning, no delay. Had they discussed it before? I suppose, but it wasn’t meant to happen now, not like this. The boy hung up, and went straight out to get a job, whatever he could find. If he was going to be a husband and father, he needed to be a man, and not just a boy any longer.
The girl had to flee. Her parents (Roman Catholic to the core, Hail Mary virgin divine, nothing like our satanic whore of a daughter) cast her out. Her father broke the dining table, he was so mad. He’d have broken the boy’s neck, if only it wasn’t thousands of miles away. She fled to… she knew not what. What shelter did a poor nomadic student have to offer her? What little he could. They sought comfort from one of his elder siblings, but she had crosses enough of her own to bear, and they couldn’t stay. At last it was the boy’s boss who took pity on this skinny little thing with his skinnier fiance, took them in, and tried to feed the girl and her beloved burden that was the source of so much difficulty and strife.
Meanwhile, the boy and girl got married. They wanted to have a small humble ceremony, surrounded by their friends and those of their loved ones who didn’t condemn them. They ended up with a big white wedding, paid for by all what little savings they had accrued for their fledgling little family. The boy was still so young, his older siblings so despotic, that he knew not how to say no when they took control. He would learn, but not in time to stop a boy and a girl being at a wedding where they knew virtually no one. A girl walked down an aisle alone, her parents refusing to acknowledge her wedding day. None of her own siblings had been told. Did she cry a little? Maybe, but in the photos she is luminous, ironically a mirror image of her own mother, who had rejected her so viciously, on her wedding day 30 years previously. The cause of it all, the catalyst behind the life-altering reaction, lay witness to their pledge in the womb. Two more months would pass before the physical burden could be shed, but so worried and underfed had the girl been, that the whole reason behind the day lay invisible to any but the keenest eye.
Things did not improve with legitimising their union. In fact, things got so bad the girl had to return to her home, preferring the devil she knew for the one she didn’t. Again, the details of that period are unclear for me, shrouded in the mists of time and amniotic fluid. And some things deserve to remain in the past, buried in the memories of those who would forget, move on, and soon find reason to celebrate.
The girl gave birth alone. She told her parents, they didn’t want to know. She hadn’t been married in the Catholic faith – so she was still not married. A whore, and one with a bastard offspring. They kept the news from her many younger brothers and sisters. No need to pollute the family tree any further. But then… curiosity? Christian forgiveness? a need to see this child who was, after all, their first grandchild caused a softening and a relenting. And from the first time they set eyes on this mewling, puking, wonderfully fragile package with an unbreakable grip, their hearts belonged exclusively to her. All, it seems, could be forgiven, under the penetrating gaze of an infant so young it couldn’t yet smile. They became her surrogate parents as her real ones continued their arduous studies. They were the first to be named: Mama, Papa.
The boy finished his degree, and cherished hopes of being able to satisfy the ambitious drive that propelled him, but the girl knew that their family would not thrive in the land of the brave and the free. And after the boy came for a visit, and met a very shy little girl who didn’t recognise her daddy, he gave up those dreams, and pursued ones of a different kind. Dreams of a family full of laughter and joy, where they might be very poor in material goods, but the richest of sultans in love. He stifled his ambition, moved back to the town of his humble beginnings, and he and the girl finally truly began their new adventure together, from a tiny one-room annexe at the back of her parents’ house.
I am the glue that binds. I am the string that holds it all together. I was the hammer that drove the wedge in place to begin with.
I said this wasn’t my story. I lied. It is the story of how I came to be. And when I think of how the love my parents have for each other overcame such hurdles, and survived despite such odds piled high against them, I can only hope that this love that my boy and I have for each other could show even half that strength under fire. And when I picture that scared girl walking down the aisle alone, I understand my parents’ insistence that this wedding will be, not just good, but great. And it surely will be. For them. For them and for all they have done, given up, sacrificed, lost and then regained a thousand times over, for me.
Happy anniversary Mom and Dad. (A few days late in time, but never in love…)