In China there are the Mosuo people living by the shores of Lake Lugu in a lush valley in Yunnan, south-west China, in the far eastern foothills of the Himalayas. They got it ‘all sorted’ out. It is a matriarchal society, women rule, lock, stock and bed, none of this big-show outside and ‘mouse mode’ inside the house.
by Capt Elmo Jayawardena
Call any family friends and invite them for dinner. If the husband answers the phone he will politely say “Thank you, I’ll get back to you.” That is the Lord of the Manor, the almighty playing the semi-final role and postponing the acceptance of a simple dinner invitation. If it is the wife who took the line, “Sure we will be there,” no postponement, no checking with the supposedly head of the house, the answer is instant and intuitive, there is not even a moment’s hesitation. Isn’t it a very clear indication then who the concert conductor is and who is simply there to play a minor role such as blowing a flute?
Familiar? Better be unless you too are one of those who think you run the show. Yes, we husbands do make all the major decisions in the family. I always do; consider me an expert on this category. It is I who concludes in dinner conversations that Ernesto Che Guevara made a greater contribution to mankind than John F Kennedy with his Pulitzer and his father’s billions. I also conclude that Dr Jonas Savimbi did a better walk in Angola than what Mao did going across China in his Long March. Of course I touch the local scene too, especially the cricket story. See what happened to Pakistan? Australian coach – and lost the semi-final. They should have given old Imran some duty leave and brought him to coach? See New Zealand? Kiwi coach and won the semi-final. These are facts I predicted long before they started the Emirates Cricket Carnival. It is I who decided that instead of a foreign head coach we need a ‘Ape Kolla’ to get the show on the road. These major decisions keep me busy. That is why I have no time for trivia.
But small matters, just leave it to the wife, well I do not even bother. Like whether we should sell the family house and go live in a condominium, or whether we need a 52 inch new TV set that has a screen concave to the audience and which bank should hold our miserly-hoarded measly savings?
Now do you get it? That is why I call my fellow brethren of the husband brigade ‘Semi-Final’ men. For all our colours of power and merriment, our songs have been mostly sad or diluted. Never had the ability to make the final decision, and quite unconsciously or consciously we have accepted this role to be the ‘also- rans’ in the home team. Even if we acquire the almost rare opportunity to make a decision, we all know who has the veto powers: “Are you mad? Don’t talk nonsense; have you lost your marbles?” With such over-riding authority I guess it is prudent to sing seconds and harmonise and say ‘discretion is the better part of valour’ and remain a consistent semi-final man in all family matters.
Now if you have children, the problem aggravates. One time they sat on your knee and were like little angels. Then the legs grew longer, and the wings got shorter and the ‘holy picture’ sweetheart cherub disappears and became a know-all; mind you that generally happens when they are around 15 plus and then that lasts till they are about 23 when they meekly convert back to know-nothings and seek the elder interventions and wisdom. But sadly, when that happens, oftentimes the bridges are burnt, and the gorge has become wider.
So as the kids grow, the once semi-final man becomes a quarter-final man and if the sibling numbers increase you are often times disqualified from the ‘decision making process’ altogether. God help you if the children live abroad. That’s when any confusion is referred to the ‘Third Umpire’. If that is a son, you may have a semblance of a chance or a Pontius Pilate act of washing the hands. But if it is a daughter, just forget it, that jury will never go against its grain. And if her husband is a semi-final man nodding like a cockatoo, you will be barbecued by the entire family. Better not go to the third umpire, the wise thing should be to give up in the first round. Sometimes you could even be giving a fight to the domestics for a place in the podium (if they are senior types). The home story is supposed to be a culture of democracy, but unfortunately for the husband it is more a vulture of injustice.
Man, how the mighty have fallen, all these powerful people outside their homes, CEOs, GMs, Chairmens, the head honchos of any and many organisations and certainly Airline Captains do get reduced to ‘pol kudu’ level once they come home through the front door. The baritone voices in boardrooms are neatly packed into the Saatchi brief cases unless you are hell-bent on starting a battle royal on home grounds which you are sure to lose by an innings.
‘The world was sad, the garden was wild and man the hermit sighed! Till the woman smiled!’ What a load of hypocritical rubbish! Whoever who wrote that must have been either from the fairer sex or a confirmed super fool.
Who reduced the mighty City of Troy to ashes? Who lost Mark Anthony (of lend me your ears fame) the world? Who prompted Samson to become the world’s first known suicide killer? All these historical heroes would have been so much happier if the garden remained wild and the world continued to be sad and the woman never smiled! All you men! Please agree with me, let’s band together as I am sure to be cannon fodder to the ladies who may read this.
Let’s go one step further, back to the originals, Adam and Eve and their fig leaves and apples and snakes. If you go biblical, the book of Genesis never said that Man is the boss. He was only told to toil and with the sweat of his brow to be the provider. It is men through the ages who had misread the content and self-appointed themselves as the Boss of the Family.
In China there are the Mosuo people living by the shores of Lake Lugu in a lush valley in Yunnan, south-west China, in the far eastern foothills of the Himalayas. They got it ‘all sorted’ out. It is a matriarchal society, women rule, lock, stock and bed, none of this big-show outside and ‘mouse mode’ inside the house. The Mosuo men know who the boss is and the place runs like a well-oiled wheel. The Chinese did have ancient wisdom. Maybe we should borrow that from them. Ask them to grant us some scholarships to the Yunnan Province so that we can fly there and officially learn from Mosuo tutors how to be semi-final men. Maybe we could even make the Port City a Matriarchal Society? After all, the yellow land has given us so much, airports, harbours, highways and what not. What is the problem with a few battle-scarred husbands going to Mao land to learn what ‘woman power’ really means? Let’s borrow the knowledge from the Chinese, I got no problem with who our new ‘god-parents’ are. We’ve seen it all from 1505, and still march soft to the colonial rhythms. So, what is a noodle or two given as gifts?
Let’s get back on track, some more on semi-final men.
Many a truth is said in jest – I sure am a semi-final man and I have accepted the role and lived ‘happily ever’ so far and will continue to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I am merrily married for the last 46 years, and the recipe is simple. Just learn to ‘nod’ and say ‘yes’. Don’t get into battles that you are sure to lose; we are not the 300 Spartans of Thermopylae or the 960 Jews of Masada who fought to the death knowing they had no chance to win.
We are just husbands, big bosses to the world and miniature models at home. Let’s admit that and be happy. If your wife wants you to wear blue, don’t argue, just wear blue and if she then changes her mind and says wear indigo, do that too. We are talking of world peace here, what’s the big deal in the colour of a stupid shirt?
Ok, ladies of the wives’ brigade, you win, we surrender, and all you young and bright and powerful husbands and husbands-to-be, take a lesson from well themparadufied people like me. We’ve seen it all, tried all the bravado and the flouting of rank and riding rough-shod on the marriage field and have got bogged down in the mire and were clean-bowled every time we opened our mouths. Just simmer down and follow the Yunnan Chinese; be a semi-final man and maybe downgraded to quarter-finalist or lower, but peace will reign. That is the paramount need today. We all have conflicts in wherever we work, be it the boss or the lowly-paid minion, why continue battling at home too? Let the lady reign, try it and see, they sure get totally confused when you come with the white flag.
‘Blessed are the Semi-final Men, for they shall inherit peace at home.’