We had a girls’ night out. It would have been nothing out of the ordinary for girls to have a night out. But we were a bunch of Asian women – six to be precise. We were a conservative lot, brought up the old-fashioned way by our mums who knew nothing about getting away. Our sense of the world is defined largely by how well we looked after our family.
We were also a bunch of gals who led busy lives. Some of the gals in the sisterhood had been through the worst time of their lives with family dramas of heinous proportions. I had just been through months of stay with Princess of the House in hospital.
I was brought up by a mother who dedicated her entire life to being a kitchen goddess, which means, she spent -- and still spends -- most of her waking moments in the inner sanctum of my parent’s home, cooking, cooking and cooking. Mum comes alive when she cooks. She also takes great pride in crisp clothes and spotless floors. Mum forgets about herself when she is taking care of us. We were never short of good meals or clean clothes. She never talked about time out. She never had time out. She never had a life beyond caring for us -- her family.
I suspect my girlfriends have mums just like mine. But unlike our mums, we all had jobs, and modern machinery to help us with our chores. Like our mums, we tended to fuss over our family. Like our mums, we forget about our needs and focus entirely on how to keep the family together, in one piece, at all cost. Like a protective lioness, we guard our dens well. Like our mums, we define our success mostly by how our families are looked after, and how they cherish us.
But unlike our mums, we feel the attraction posed by our feminist sisters – those who fought for a voice, for equal opportunities, and also a time-out concept. We are not the bra-burning types and you won’t find us marching for women’s rights. But it didn’t take us long to feel the intoxication of the moment – of being free for one night, from cooking, scrubbing burnt pots, handling laundry, taking the garbage out and stacking dishes away.
This gathering of the sisterhood is good – especially when you have great company. We had a fantastic meal at this place called Eiji. To be that busy on a Friday night, the restaurant must have something special going. Our dishes were cooked to perfection. We ooed and ahhhed at how well everything was presented. We rolled out of the restaurant, happy as kids!
Then we headed off to a Mama Mia! We didn’t have sequin tops or platform shoes. But we had the cinema mostly to ourselves, truckloads of popcorn, icecreams and lollies. Only our reserve and conservatism kept us from total abandonment and jumping up to dance to “Dancing Queen” or “Mama Mia”.
What is it about ABBA?
What is it about a movie like Mama Mia! that manages to strike such a chord that box office receipts have totaled over US$440 million? Perhaps there is a dancer inside all of us, dying to surface? Perhaps inside us, we all crave the garishness of shinny outfits with plunging necklines, fancy furs, and platform boots? Perhaps it is the catchy tunes of ABBA, expressing our wish for eternal youth, romance in a complicated world? Who knows?
The total escape from home into the world of Abba songs and the romance of the movie was most electrifying.
By the time the movie finished, we came close to midnight. No carriage awaited us. But like Cinderallas afraid our cars would revert to being pumpkins, we stepped into the dark Friday night to hurry to our separate homes. We weren’t on curfew but our inner programmes told us we were meant to head home now that we had our share of fun and laughter.
Our ladies night out was a resounding success, we all agreed. The sisterhood plans to have another outing. Perhaps a get-away where our families can’t call. Only this time far more than a few hours in a night. Dare I? Dare we? For me, a sisterhood get-away weekend would be a brave new world. It would be like travelling on a train to Hogsworth, on a matrix that would spin me into a different world – that so far removed from what mum taught me – family above self, family above all. Mum, so sorry I have moved on. So have my sisters, I suspect.