by KAMILA KAHN
I have a confession to make. I am a romantic. A Muslim romantic.
I grew up in front of a television. Literally. Being nine years younger than my siblings, I think my parents had given up on parenting when it was my turn. By the time I was ten, both my siblings were at University and I guess my parents thought their work was done. So instead of inculcating me with religious doctrines, I was raised by watching and listening to my siblings and their pop-culture of the time.
Unfortunately for me, that time was the 80s. Think Madonna, INXS and Bros. Picture The Goonies, Ferris Bueller and Weird Science. I can literally quote you every conversation in the Breakfast Club. Sure, I was sent to madrasa and learnt how to pray, but there’s no way a Saturday morning learning Arabic could replace my Saturday night with 21 Jump Street. This is where I learnt all my morals, my standards and my expectations.
And this is where my idea of romance came from.
Throughout my teenage years watching boys from afar (as was religiously appropriate) only prolonged the male mystique. Although all I would see were Arab boys with their mothers and Indian boys with their textbooks, I was certain underneath all this was a male ready to shower me with adoration, gifts and love.
After all, from our religious tradition came the Taj Mahal (made by a male out of love for his wife); came the poet Rumi (a male truly in touch with his feelings); and from Arabic came the word ‘carat’ (to measure the size of my future wedding ring). It was impossible then for any Muslim male not to have romance in his blood, right?
Fast-forward 10 years, and as I entered my first relationship with a male, a prospective suitor none-the-less, I realised I had huge expectations of what a male would do to prove his love to me. I had fantasies of Duckie singing Try a Little Tenderness from Pretty in Pink. I had delusions of instant passion a la Cher and Nicolas cage in Moonstruck.
As a young and naive 20 year old I was desperately waiting for those rush of endorphins, for the world to stop spinning and for time to stand still – just like in the movies. And although the initial few months and even years of our relationship would have passion, the romance never hit the heights of Hollywood.
It didn’t take long for me to realise that my husband was not the romantic type. This is something I struggled with in those early days of our relationship. Waiting for flowers that never came. Waiting for poetry that was never written. Waiting for him to suggest playing strip croquet like Christian Slater in Heathers.
I couldn’t understand why he didn’t show his love this way. What was wrong with him? Promising the world to a girl and then delivering it was my benchmark of masculinity. On a religious level, Muslims males are encouraged, dare I say obliged, to approach their wife with ‘messengers’, like kisses and sweet conversation. Surely the logical next step was lavish dinners and expensive jewelry?
After months of arguments I finally realised that he was not purposely holding back on these things, but rather he was ignorant of realising the importance of such gestures. But instead of acknowledging the need for more romance in our relationship, he accused me of having unrealistic expectations that would only be met on a movie set. Was he right? Could no man meet my expectations? Was romance a thing of screenplays and novels that could never be matched in reality?
This can’t just be me. Surely there are others out there who weren’t raised by John Hughes yet still expect some form of intuitive male romance? I sat down and reflected on our relationship. Sure, the romance was missing, but in its wake was a man full of kindness, respect and love. How could I argue with that?
So instead now when I need a romance hit I cuddle up on the couch and watch The Princess Bride. And more often that not, hubby comes and cuddles next to me, and there’s nothing more romantic than when the movie finishes, having a real male next to me to kiss goodnight.
Sweet Home Alabama
Kamila lives in Sydney with her husband and 2 children. Trying her best to live in reality, Kamila cant help but spend most of the day with her imaginary friends in a world beyond words.
Are you a romantic? Is your partner a romantic?