Saturday, June 11, 2011

More strong words.

The strong word for today is jodoh. For more 'strong words', do read the previous post, if you haven't yet. To be honest, I think I'll be stepping on a lot of people's toes with this post, but I warn you now, so you can read the rest of the post with your eyes closed, heh.

Jodoh literally means 'mate' or 'partner' in Malay, but it carries connotations of 'the one' - the partner destined for you. Used as a normal verb it can simply mean to pair a man and women up, to matchmake, or to find the partner to something. Habis jodoh (end of partnership) is used when talking about divorce. But I'm just going to talk about using jodoh in the sense of a life partner in destiny decided by God.

The use of this word helps to plug any gossip around a marriage that does not fit society's strict idea of an ideal marriage: young man, young woman, never married before, similar age, similar cultural and economic backgrounds, and marrying for life.

For example, when a young lady marries a man much older than her, people may talk behind her back and constantly speculate about it. Why such an old man? Isn't he married before? This goes the same if one of the partners is divorced. Or if a man enters into a polygamous marriage. Lots of talk. Eventually someone comes along and says "Well, what can you do, it's already jodoh."

It does have a sense of fatalism, but also pragmatism. After all, what's done is already done. All you can do is make yourself feel better about it.

On the other hand, it's also used in exasperation when a woman finds herself single beyond a certain age, with many failed relationships. Others may say to her "Tuhan yang ketemukan jodoh" (It is God that sends you a life partner). If people want to postpone an early marriage, they may say "Kalau sudah jodoh, tak akan ke mana" (If it's already destined, your partner will not disappear).

The sense of destiny that jodoh carries with it is useful in many ways: stopping gossip, making one feel better about being single, and preventing rash actions like marrying soon after meeting someone.

There's probably more, but as far as I can remember, this is how jodoh has been used, with all its wonderfully multiple meanings.

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