Every year our hearts fill with joy at the thought of being able to spend yet another Eid Al-Fitr with our loved ones by our sides, to visit our relatives far and wide, to share a meal with them and also make du’a for them. Our glitzy ensembles hang daintily from their hangers, our jellies, biscuits and cakes have set beautifully and our houses are shining squeaky clean from all the scrubbing which has paid off brilliantly.

But for the single, unmarried and  childless, this is a joy that is tainted and marred by the intense dreading of the relentless questions which threaten to plague their every corner.

It typically starts off easily enough with icebreaking questions inquiring your current state of employment,  to determine which direction and degree of intensity they should carry on in. After safely establishing the fact that you’re not currently seeing anyone, only in a relationship, or married but with no children, these inquisitive aunties then bring in the big guns that they’ve been hiding up their embellished sleeves.

“Do you have a boyfriend? / When are you getting married? / When are you going to have kids?/ When’s your next one?/ When are you going to have grandchildren?”

Sensing the dark fate that awaits you, you squirm and grimace under the guise of smiling obligingly but on the inside, you’re desperately using your non-existent telepathy skills to reach for someone, anyone to rescue you from this ordeal. Mom? Sis? Dad? Hello, is anybody there? In the worst case scenario, you might even be physically attached to some of these relatives who will be holding on to you protectively, with one arm on your shoulder and another still in a frozen handshake from the salaam you gave them two minutes ago. This assumed position also helps to effectively shield you from any surrounding distractions and may be accompanied by an interested frown or intense eye contact. You have three options:

  1. Fake a coughing attack and under the pretence that you’re choking, tearily excuse yourself to the drinks section, all the while still coughing manically until you’re in the clear and free to live your single, unmarried, childless life in peace…until the next inquisitor makes their presence known.
  2. Create a sob story as you tell them of your difficulties in scoring a date in time for Eid (“I swear I wasn’t being choosy this time!” “Maybe I’m just not as attractive as you think I am, auntie”) which will result in them feeling guilty and bombarding you with more treats and cakes.
  3. Get in a huff as you red-facedly try to explain the other aspects of your life which still require a lot of attention and improvement (such as your career, mental health, fulfilling your experience as a young, unburdened person etc.) which hold higher priority over finding a mate for life and procreating.
  4. Answer them calmly and honestly as you keep in mind the Quran and practice Sabr. Try your best to maintain patience and level-headed spirituality when facing the trials and tribulations that may come in your way, despite the nature of the outcome.

While, realistically speaking, the problem at hand is relatively petty and unimportant resulting in nothing more than mild discomfort and irritation, it is still crucial that we exercise Sabr in the face of any obstacle or difficulties, no matter how big or small. While caring aunts and inquisitive relatives may come off as too forward or brash, make no mistake in misunderstanding their well-intentioned questions in our wellbeings. Seeing as we only meet them a few times a year during family functions and keeping in mind with the fact that we are all a little bit older the next we meet, it’s time that we embrace the questions and take the positive from the unintended negative.