Carmelita is a 68 year old chinese woman who lived in Manila most of her life. She’s multilingual (English, Chinese & Tagalog) and was raised by her Chinese parents who used to operate a huge plantation of crops in Malaysia that is up and running until today despite his father’s death at year 2000 due to old age. Her mother died at age 48 due to Cancer and being the eldest among the five siblings, she took most of the responsibility in their family business and managed her father’s business affairs most especially the financial aspects because her father couldn’t speak the local language in Manila. To keep her background story short, Ma’am Mely (as how I address her) dedicated her whole life helping his father—took care of him when he was sick, looked after her younger siblings and decided to stay single forever. I asked her if there’s someone who tried to be with her and she answered me with a big YES and a wide smile in her face but her eyes were filled with regret. She told me there was a lawyer and an accountant who tried to win her heart but she gave me this apparent excuse that she was scared that they would not accept her for who she is, that maybe they would just get “turned off” by her, that she’s worried she’s too old for it because she was around 40 years old when they came. She then accepted her fate since. She decided she would stay single forever because she initially thought it’s okay, that she’s going to be okay alone.
When his father died and all her siblings got married, the pain of her decision commenced to become more intense, more intolerable, more obvious than it used to be. She opened up honestly how lonely she is and how hard it is to live alone. Whenever she got sick and the driver is not around, she would take her jacket and walk to the drugstore a mile away from where she lives, so she could buy herself a medicine, because no one else could do it for her. Although her siblings have often asked her to just live with them, she kept on refusing them because she feels like she’s going to be just a burden to them and admitted to me that she thinks it’s more painful to see them having a family of their own and feel sorry for herself for the decision she made for her life. She’s been living alone in that old gloomy house for almost 20 years and I felt the pain it has caused her. She told me she likes me so much that she wishes I am her daughter and she sincerely appreciate the time I gave her—because she said she badly needed someone to talk to. She kept on thanking me for listening to her repetitive story and apologized for it. I told her she shouldn’t apologize for it because I did enjoy the time I spent with her.
“Please don’t leave him because you’re very lucky you have someone to grow old with.” She said after we hugged before I had to leave for another client visit. Whilst I was driving away, I looked in my rear view mirror and I saw her waving goodbye like a mother who had to see her child leave because the school bus is already there. I felt deep within me that she wanted to be a mother, to be a wife, to have a family of her own. I have met several old maid well off clients but she was the only one who unhesitatingly confessed the unpleasant repercussion of living alone for the rest of her life. Perhaps not all them old maid feels the same way as Mely, but I’m certain that in one way or another, those people who chose to be single forever, felt lonely too.
I had to write about her story without her consent neither to announce the pity I have for her nor to make it look like staying single is bad. I wrote this so you could realize how blessed you are right now. If you have a family of your own or if you have someone who loves you and is willing to share his/her life with you, do not hesitate and stop overthinking about the negative sides of marriage or of having children—because I’m telling you, it’s better to endure the pain of getting hurt due to a quarrel or sleepless nights ’cause of your crying baby than the pain of living all by yourself. As the old clichéd saying proves: “No man is an island” and I couldn’t agree more to it.
I wish you start looking at your partner as a gift because perhaps not everyone is blessed to have met someone to love. You are loved and you have someone to kiss and hug, someone to share your thoughts with, someone to laugh with using a secret language only you two can understand, thus I hope you don’t take it for granted. Being single forever is a choice—but I wish you do something about it before you run out of time.