Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Of ABBA, the sisterhood and, oh sorry mum!

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.

Defining success
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.

Sorry mum
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.


  1. really enjoyed this story. I like how you maintain your mums/your family values but are prepared to step into being a girlfriend as well.

  2. Hi TGF - it is harder than I thought. It is almost like we have ibuilt systems, to just go on being like our mums! A small first step, I would say!

  3. We are more like our mothers than we truly admit. Nites out, high teas or cooking in the inner sanctum, is but our way of taking time out to be more aware of ourselves and hopefully we deal better with our love ones. Good mothers make better mums of us all.....breathe... Xi Shi

  4. I am so glad that i finally logged in and found all these interesting write ups! You are truly terrific...we might be different in terms of speech, dressing, thinking than our mums, but the mother instint is in us, we always have the children and husbands in 1 part of the brain, and we know when it's time to go home.

  5. hi yokehar,
    what is it about ABBA? i couldn't help but take a quick peek at your blog even though i have the soup simmering away in the kitchen, the ironing board up ready for more ironing, the washing machine chugging away in an attempt to keep up with the laundry demands of 2 boys and a husband, and dreary weather in old Blighty ...hey, my own needs don't count! i live in crumpled tee-shirts and jeans and an old cardie...this is not the life i envisioned when i chucked my high life in journalism in M'sia and moved to the UK!!!

    But it is the rare girls' night out which makes it all worthwhile, especially a recent jaunt to the cinema to watch Mamma Mia! with 2 of my girlfriends. the place was heaving with women of all ages; some still in work clothes; others in casuals thrown together in a hurried manner...in their mad rush to get out of the house before the guilt surfaces!

    from the word 'go', we were singing with the best of them; amazed at the sheer ease in which the lyrics tumbled out of vocal chords unused to singing anything more challenging than nursery rhymes for the last few years...yes, it can be that bad. but oh-so exhilarating...such a guilty pleasure, and how sad, too!

    so...what is it about ABBA? it reminds us of the carefree times of our youth, though i'm still leery of the bell-bottoms and garish colours. it's the mood that strikes a chord...and when the sisterhood can still link arms and sing of broken dreams and suchlike and still keep a straight face...hey, rejoice!

  6. Hi Linda/ and other gals who commented... definitely...we must part ways with our moms, and live the few moments of exhilaration! To ABBA and to sisterhood! Then back to the cinders in the kitchen, with our ragged clothes/overalls/aprons...to our charmed or uncharmed lives...Inside us, there is something still beautiful and vital! Our spirit to get on and do our best!!

  7. To Lady Lavendar and your followers of this amazing blog! I have read some of your entries, and I have decided I will likely follow this one. I read so much that just does not "fit" with my lifestyle, you your blog is great! I am big on the "sisterhood" idea - in fact I have developed a website dedicated to it, so I will follow this blog with great interest.
    I love my mom dearly, and many say I have followed in her footsteps. I take that as a great compliment because like your mom, mine dedicated herself to her family. One of the many reasons we still get along so well (and we range in ages from 52 - 25)
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Hi Duchess O'Blunt - our mums remaim our best inspriation don't they? I am best friends with mine too, and speak to her once a week on the phone. Sometimes she swears she knows it is me when the phone rings at home!

  9. Hi! Sorrymums with attitude! How wonderful to see you're out there! I simply have to share my story behind the brand, "Sorrymum" - clothes for kids 0 - 2 years. Not to sneak in the marketing, but for sharing thoughts:

    A story
    He arrived at midnight on the black dragon with the yellow eyes.
    It was a cold quiet night with a sky like the softest black velvet.
    The moon and the stars were out and the mum, strengthened with dragonblood, was prepared and waiting.
    He arrived and she laughed loudly for all in the kingdom to hear.
    She dressed him in the softest black cotton and
    swept him in a blanket of the finest black wool from the sheep closest to the sky.

    And so it begins.

    The name
    Sorrymum refers to how you always will be connected to your mum and how she always will be part of you.
    How she always will matter to you.
    Whether you love her or not.
    Whether you are happy or sad.
    Whether she is a part of your life or not.
    At least once in your lifetime you will have uttered:

    s o r r y m u m


Hi, I welcome your say on the matter!