Settle Down


“So, have you gone and asked the girl’s hand?”

“Not yet.”

“What are you waiting for?”

“I’m waiting for you to be in town. Then we’ll go together.”

“What for?”

“Oh, nothing. Just want you to get to know her.”

A few seconds later, I said ‘later’ to my brother and put my phone down. From the looks of it, he’ll settle down before me. Well, I don’t really care about seniority, nor do I believe that there’s a queue saying the eldest should have a family before the younger siblings. If the time comes, it’ll come. It waits for no man. So who am I to deny that? Envy is also out of the question. Yeah, I am in the prime of getting that annoying big Q, but to hell with it. I haven’t the time nor the choice of heart, so what’s the rush?

It is this particular phone call that made me recall Kimbra’s song. Settle Down was a 2011 release if I remember correctly, and I pretty much enjoy it. It was beautiful. It was alluring, just like much of the other songs on her debut album. Then I saw the music video, and everything changed. It became more beautiful. The MV, along with Cameo Lover’s, portrays something very unlike the lyrics. No, I regress. It does portray the lyrics perfectly, only cynically. It is as if Kimbra wants to mock society for the stigmas and designations that has long entrap it. Labels. Prejudice. Outdated norms that are demeaning and exclusive. A woman must accept that her man is having an affair while she has to scrub the floors and be nice to him once he’s back, if he’s back. A man must be dense to the advances of women eyeing them for a romance only imaginable, not doable. Settle Down and Cameo Lover shows how crooked our teeth are, how our silverware are not perfectly lined up on the table, and how we try to delude ourselves, trying to escape from reality. At least, that’s the impression I get.

You can take those songs at face value, and you’ll get sweet-as-candy fairy tales and a plea to be loved. Or you can throw in a cynical wrench into your head and look at these songs wickedly. A heartbreaking tale of solitude in marriage, or a rabid plea for desperate recognition, or even bigger than that, a broken society that accepts these things and say “oh well, it’s fine, nothing’s wrong”. Truth be told, we are more broken than humanity has ever been, what with the urge to be different from our predecessors, wanting to accept everything in the name of human right yet still mock the black sheep of society. Wanting to be unique and stand out of the crowd yet at the same time be in cahoots with the others in hope of attaining a kindred spirit of sorts. Never have the individuals of society wanted to be so individualistic yet having gangs more than ever before. We are the generation of denial. The generation of contradiction. We refuse to settle down with simple remedies. We constantly dive for complexity, only to end up tired with them.

It is the same as Jaime loving Ain loving Khairil loving Sofia loving Sufyan loving Katherine. Each one has his or her eyes set on the person in front of them, totally ignoring the fact that there’s already someone beside them. World, do tell me, why can’t we settle down peacefully? Maybe the answer may never grace my thought, such as the fact that no one could ever give an answer that satisfies and stops wars at the same time. You can give an answer to satisfy war and the people interested in an answer. You can give an answer that can stop wars. But you can never give an answer that is both satisfying and functional. That is why the world is full of retorts and rhetoric working their magic into the minds of many. Maybe I’m also under the spell of retorts and rhetoric too. Who knows? Well, whatever.

What I do know is that as I await Saturday for a day-long travel from Arau to Kuala Lumpur and finally resting my bones on my bed back in Tuaran, let me just indulge in Kimbra’s beautiful harmony and dabble with theories non-existing behind her choice of words, in hopes that my jumble of thought settles down and give way to rest and peace. Good night.

10.50pm

6th April 2016

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Settle Down

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