Abi: Ahmad, where’s Ali?
Ahmad: No idea. Wait, lemme text him.
Ali’s phone rings.
Ahmad: Where are you?
Ali: Outside your house. Scared to death!
Ahmad walks out of the house.
Ali: Waalaikumussalam warahmatullah.
Ahmad: Why didn’t you call me?
Ali: I’m freaking out here man! What should I say to your dad?
Ahmad: You think too much. You’ll be fine. Just get in!
Slowly, Ali walks into the house.
Ali: Assalamualaikum, uncle.
Abi: Waalaikumussalam warahmatullah. Please, take a seat.
Ali sits down. The sofa was comfortable, but he wasn’t. Abi can tell that he’s nervous and he remains silent, deliberately. He didn’t want to start. He smiles and waits. Alia comes out with the drinks.
Alia: Please, help yourself.
Ali takes a sip, hoping that the awkwardness will subside. Clearly it’s pointless. He realizes that he needs to step up.
Ali: (Clears throat) I think…you already know why I’m here right?
Abi: Why are you here?
Ali: Oh wow, okay. How do I say this?
Ahmad texted Alia.
Ahmad: Why is he playing around? He already knew why Ali’s here.
Alia: LOL! Typical Abi. Even I’m getting nervous right now.
Ali: Actually…I came here…to ask for (Clears throat) Alia’s hand…in…in marriage.
Ummi: How old are you, Ali?
Ali: I’m 21, auntie.
Ummi: Oh, I see. Still studying?
Abi: So when are you planning on getting married?
Ali: As soon as I can I guess. I don’t wanna rush it, but at the same time I don’t wanna delay it. One of the reasons I’m here is also to discuss about when to get married.
Ali is becoming less nervous now that he gained momentum.
Abi: Financially speaking, how are you doing?
Ali: Similar to Ahmad, I have a scholarship.
Abi: How much do you get per month?
Ali: Alhamdulillah, I receive $1300 per month. That’s more than enough if one spends it well.
Abi: You know that marriage isn’t cheap right? The modest walimah that I can think of costs about RM14,000. And that amount excludes bersanding, hantaran, hiring a makeup person, the wedding dress, and so on and so forth.
Ali: Bersanding? Pelamin?
Ali looks at Ahmad. Ahmad seems confused too.
Ahmad: Abi, are we doing the bersanding? Hantaran too?
Alia: Also, I wasn’t aware that you wanted to hire a person to do my makeup. I’m not even aware that I will wear makeup ‘cause I’m not the makeup-type person. You know that right?
Ummi: Well, it is your special day.
Ali: How about if we…skip the bersanding?
Ali: I feel uncomfortable when I imagine my wife being overly decorated and being displayed on a stage for everyone to see, especially to men. Each pair of eyes that set on my wife’s beauty is like an arrow to my heart.
Ummi: It’s just for a day.
Ali: I understand. It is a special day and the newlyweds are treated like kings. But even kings need to obey the King of kings right?
Abi: Here’s the thing: if we don’t do it the normal way, then what would the neighbours say?
Ahmad and Alia don’t like where this conversation is going.
Ali: We can’t satisfy everyone, uncle. I’m not saying that we eliminate all the cultural flavours from the walimah. What I’m saying is that we consider each one of them and see if it goes against Islam or not.
Ummi: But there are so many people who do it.
Ali: I can’t really say anything about them. That is between them and Allah. Right now, it’s between us and Allah.
Abi: So, no bersanding?
Ali: Preferably not, uncle. But if we want to do it anyway, how about we have a private bersanding session in a closed room with just sisters and close male relatives of the bride. And no pictures except with our own cameras, ‘cause I fear that people might upload them on Facebook, or Flickr, or anywhere else on the net. If she wants to wear makeup at that time, that’ll be okay too.
Abi: Don’t you think that is a bit too extreme?
Ali tries his best to keep his cool and maintain his adab.
Ali: With all due respect, I think what is extreme is Alia being dressed overly fancy and parading herself in front of other men.
Alia: Abi, I’m with Ali on that one. I think wearing a one-time-only fancy dress is a waste of money. I’m never gonna wear something that fancy on a daily basis. If it’s expensive but suitable to wear on a normal day, then that’s different. But then again, I’m not a big fan of expensive dresses.
Ummi: But I want you to look beautiful on that day. This walimah is a one-time thing you know?
With a gentle voice, Alia says…
Alia: Ummi, in whose eyes should I look beautiful for?
Silence fills the room…