Tom Takes a Wife – Part 1
Having asked the question and receiving a positive answer, I never dreamed of the intricacies of the marriage ceremonies. I did not believe they would last a month.
The first step was to contact my daughters. According to custom, I had to ask their permission to marry Suriani. I waited until I had returned to the states for my infusions, thinking correctly this was not a matter for e-mail.
I took my second eldest to the Mountain View Diner where I broke the news. Her first reaction was of disbelief and then amusement that I asked her permission. She kept shaking her head not believing what I was saying because I had not written about my intentions before. I asked her to fly to Borneo for the wedding. She said she would try.
I telephoned my eldest daughter in Montana. A sleepy voice answered and greeted me with a warm hello. I started my explanation on why I was calling and she listened patiently as I revealed what I had decided. Apparently, a shot of adrenalin coursed through her body because when she replied her voice was strong and clear. Since she was going to visit anyway, I had scheduled part of the nuptials during her stay.
Suriani had to ask her father’s permission to marry me. I felt it a bit absurd that a 42-year-old woman would have to ask her father permission for anything but I went along with the custom. The Aunties, worthy of any great orator, mounted vigorous opposition to the marriage. “I would take her away to a far off land and Dad would never see her again” they claimed. “I would not become part of the customs,” they implored, as they tried to convince him not to approve. Dad simply stated he would agree with his daughter because he trusted her judgment. Case closed.
The next step was to the American Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. While in the states, I had to obtain copies of my divorce decree as required by Malaysian law and then be sworn before a vice counsel that I was indeed legally divorced.
I was exhausted when I arrived at the Embassy because I had not yet adjusted from my two day journey from the states, was jet lagged and that morning I had to arise at 4 A.M. to catch a flight from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur. I was not in a very good mood because the people at the Embassy would only see American citizens from 9 - to 11 A.M. I had made pleas to make an appointment to see me later to no avail. I still wonder what they do the rest of the day.
The Vice Counsel, a young lad named Joshua Shen, handed me a form that I had filled out earlier that looked like it had been spewed out by an old Tandy printer. There was nothing on it that looked official, just a statement in low-caps that said I had been divorced.
Being a nervous pending groom, I had misspelled my brides name a couple of times. I asked for another paper and he said that would be a problem. I looked at him quizzically and he went to ask someone if I could get another. I went to fill out the new paper. Meanwhile, he interviewed an old Chinese lady who wanted to get into the country. Since I was sitting right there I could here every word. She insisted she had a daughter in the states that needed her help. He denied her entrance to America.
I finally got to swear I was divorced, had extra pages bound into my passport and left feeling sorry for the old grandmother that had been denied entry. On my way out, I spotted her in line, dressed in different clothes. I realized she was running a con and the Vice Counsel was perfectly right in denying her entry.
…life is good…