Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Tale Of Two Siti's

Once upon a time, in the not too distant past, there lived two cousins in a beautiful country called Bolehland. And it was a happy coincidence that both the cousins' parents decided to name them Aku - one was called Aku Juga while the other was called Aku Pun.

The cousins grew up in different cities and so had little opportunity to meet. This was because of some strange decree of the emperor that cousins should not meet too often or be too friendly with each other. Although everyone secretly thought that the emperor was mad, stupid, bigoted or all of the above, they followed the emperor's decrees as not doing so could mean that a man could be thrown in jail indefinitely for no reason.

But although, the cousins were not very close, they would often each other's families during festive seasons and other family gatherings. In time, they secretly grew to be very friendly with each other.

When the cousins came of age, they decided to get married and settle down. Aku Juga had met a girl named Siti bt Isa. Coincidentally, Aku Pun had fallen in love with a girl named also named Siti - Siti bt Mohamed.

So one fine September morning, Aku Juga popped the question and Siti Isa said yes! It was the happiest day of his life! The following March, Aku Pun also proposed to Siti Mohamed and she to said yes with a blush!

So it was all set. Aku Juga was married first in a grand wedding. Everyone was invited and Aku Pun joined in the festivities. Everyone at the wedding praised how beautiful the bride was, how elegant, how well-mannered, etc. Aku Pun was very happy for his cousin.

The time came for Aku Pun's wedding. He too held a grand wedding banquet and invited all his friends and family. Aku Juga arrived with his new bride and was received warmly by Aku Pun. When the guests saw the bride, they were full of praises for her beauty, poise, hospitality, etc. Aku Juga could not be more happy that Aku Pun had also found the love of his life, just as he did.

So the cousins settled down back in their own cities. And life was good for a little while.

Until the emperor got news that there were two cousins in the country who were being a little too friendly than he liked. He flew into a rage, shouting: "Off with their heads!"

His royal advisors however, were a little less mad and stupid than the emperor. But they were a lot more devious. After calming down the emperor, they gave him this advice:

"My Lord," said the chief advisor as he adjusted his soft pointy hat and assumed the proper advisory position, "if you were to chop off their heads so soon after Aku Juga and Aku Pun had such marvellous weddings, all the cousins in the country would unite to rise up against you."

"You see," chimed a second advisor who had shifty eyes and a sharp hook nose, "when people are happy and they know why they are happy (such as during weddings) they are generally able to clearly identify the things that make them unhappy (such as royal orders to chop off their heads) because they can clearly feel the difference between the two incidences."

"Then what shall we do?" demanded the emperor, his luscious robes heaving with his anxious breaths.

"Well, since chopping off their heads would be running the risk of them being united against your majesty, we would suggest that we first eliminate that risk altogether!"

"Go on..." said the emperor.

"Erm...we have a plan..." A sly look came over the advisors' faces.

"I'm listening," said the emperor as he leaned forward in his throne expectantly.

"It is an outrageous plan..." The chief advisor was rubbing his hands, his eyes darting to the rest of the Imperial Council.


"It's so outrageous, it might even work..." The other advisors were whispering excitedly among themselves now.

"Tell me what it is or I'll chop all YOUR heads off personally!!" roared the emperor.

"W-w--wwell, your majesty, we could turn their opinions against each other. But we would need to do it using a reason that is completely illogical."

"Why illogical?"

"Because if it was a logical reason, they would be able to figure it out. We need a reason for discord that is completely illogical...that's why...er..."

"No more of your dilly-dallying now!" said the emperor threateningly as he fondled the hilt of the Imperial sabre strapped to his waist.

"Y-y-y-yess, Your Majesty. We were thinking that we would use their wives!"

"That's your idea? We already have decrees stating strict punishments for adultery!" The emperor's temper was rising dangerously again.

"Your Majesty has to make a decree regarding wives that is SO outrageous that there is no way to discuss whether it has merit or not!"

"Then what?! Spill it man, or I'll spill your guts!!" cried the emperor, half-drawing his sword.

"Your Majesty should decree that cousins should not have wives with the same name. The reason should be given that one cousin may accidentally mistake his wife as his cousin's. Thus in his confusion about whose wife he's sleeping with at night, he may be committing adultery."

"But a decree like that would affect the whole country and not just these two cousins! How will the other citizens react?"

"Not to worry, your majesty! We have our agents ever ready," assured the Chief Advisor, "Remember how many times you accidentally stepped out of the palace naked? You always came out smelling roses!"

"That is true..." said the emperor thoughtfully.

"Besides, with our agents' incitements, the nationwide reaction will put pressure the cousins to strain their relationship to the point of breaking."

"I like it!" said the emperor clapping his hands gleefully, "Make it so, chief!"

So the royal decree went out that cousins were not to have wives with the same name. There was an immediate outcry throughout the nation. Those who had married understood immediately how ridiculous the decree was - you knew your wife in your heart and soul, you knew your wife by sight, and you knew your wife in your body. No matter what her name was, you could never mistake her for someone else!

But to those who had no wives, this was an issue of immense importance. Suddenly, they became experts in marriage, making all sorts of comments about how man was so weak and stupid that they would be absolutely confused about who their wife was if they had a similar name as the wife of another cousin!

True to their words, the Chief Advisors sent out their agents to "explain" the rationale behind the new decree, conduct pre-marriage courses, marriage counselling sessions, etc. And so the debate raged across Bolehland.

Finally, some friends of Aku Pun decided that the matter of his and Aku Juga's wives' names should be resolved. They gathered to meet the Imperial Council, and told them of the cousins' wives. The Chief Advisor replied:

"As the interpreters and executors of His Majesty's will, we hereby declare that Aku Juga's wife is not allowed to be called Siti, according His Majesty's Same Name decree!"

When Aku Juga heard this, he was outraged! Aku Pun was outraged as well. It was ridiculous that someone had decreed that since their wives shared a common name, they would be too stupid to know who's who! So they spoke out against such a ridiculous decree.

Unfortunately, by this time the whole nation was in an uproar. Those who sided with Aku Juga insisted that he had the right to call his wife by her given name of Siti Isa. Those who sided with the emperor's decree demanded that she change her name to prevent Aku Pun from confusing his wife Siti Mohamed with Aku Juga's wife Siti Isa and accidentally committing adultery with her! In all the loud arguments defending either Aku Pun or Aku Juga, nobody was listening to what the cousins themselves had to say. In fact, they were regarded as having no knowledge in matters of marriage or worse: betraying their own wives, and were told to shut up!

As the debate raged on, the emperor and his advisors watched in glee from the palace windows. Turning back to their sumptious feast, they congratulated each other for successfully sowing discord in Bolehland yet again.

That night, the emperor slept soundly, safe in the knowledge that the nation would not be united to question his ability to rule anytime soon.

And in their homes, Aku Juga sat with his wife Siti Isa and Aku Pun sat with his wife Siti Mohamed, sure in the knowledge that they knew who their wives were, no matter what their names may be. But they were saddened that people who knew nothing of marriage were debating and deciding for them what their marriages should be.


  1. Thank you for making it so clear!

  2. If only the story does not resemble what is happening in Malaysia right now, it could be so funny... But the point driven home here is so eerily real!