A FEW years back, I was on a cruise in Ha Long bay, on board one of those impressive-looking wooden boats with large sails that look like a prop from a pirates’ movie.
It was the first leg of my travel across Vietnam, and on the boat were people from different parts of the world. After dinner I ended up chatting with a pretty Argentinian girl, and as we sat on the deck watching the night sky we began talking about – you guessed it – relationships.
She told me a fascinating story of how she had met her husband. She was a poor girl living in Argentina, with no means of making a better life for herself. One day, a handsome, rich, charming Frenchman appeared in her town, saw her, and ...they are now married, living in Paris and travelling around the world together.
When I heard this story my mouth fell wide open, you could even put a whole lemon in it.
I’ve seen something like this before in movies. There is a damsel in distress, and then comes a handsome, perfect, ultra-achieving man who sweeps her off her feet to a land where everything is flawless and her life is immediately upgraded. But listening to this Argentinian girl’s recollection of her real-life Prince Charming story made it sound like an achievable fantasy even in real life.
It triggered my long, arduous struggle with a common misconception of a common term known to every woman - the myths and truths about the “knight in shining armour”.
FAULT OF THE MOVIES
On a different occasion not too long ago, I was having lunch with a then-single friend. We were discussing exciting things we planned to do for the year, and I asked her if she was interested in joining me on my travels.
“That’s okay,” she said. “I’ll do all these fun things after I meet a guy.”
I began to realise that the idea of waiting to be “rescued” by a man before life really begins is no subtle, distant rumour. It is an existing condition held by many, even among people I know. It’s a romantic notion after all, one too good to not fantasise about.
Your life is in shambles? Enter a man who fixes all your problems. Your days are dull? Here comes a guy to make them a lot more interesting. You don’t love yourself enough? Your partner’s love will compensate for low esteem.
I’m not entirely innocent of this either. As much as I’m a self-professed independent girl, I too sometimes indulge in these fantasies of upscaling my life upon the emergence of a man. It took me many meets to realise that expecting a man to fulfil all these nonsensical expectations is, frankly speaking, deranged.
I blame the movies. I really do. Theytell us that someone will chase us at the airport, someone will come by and say all the right things and make all the right gestures, and someone will mend everything that is wrong with us.
They also tell us that someone will look like a re-incarnation of Jake Gyllenhaal. As a result, many of us latch onto this wrong idea of just waiting around instead of taking charge of our own lives and happiness.
HERE COMES THE SAVIOUR
Perhaps there is some truth to having someone sweeping you off your feet and to take you away from the life you know to something better, as aptly demonstrated by that Argentinian girl.
Perhaps for some people in some parts of the world, where life is a lot harder and chances are a lot sparser, this is necessary. But, for the rest of us, ones who have just as many privileges, opportunities, freedom and will as these alleged “knights”, why can’t we rescue ourselves? A contented life shouldn’t only begin when somebody comes galloping by on a horse, so to speak. It is true that having the right spouse can increase the quality of life. But, then again, to make it someone else’s task to fix our problemsand make our lives better is unrealistic and irresponsible. As the writer Alice Sebold once wrote, “You save yourself or you remain unsaved.”
A good life begins when we decide to take control of our own fate, instead of sitting around staring at the far horizon, waiting for Jon Snow (Game of Thrones) to come charging in and whisk us away to an imaginary castle. We should be our own knight in shining armour, so maybe it’s time to saddle up.
A GEOSCIENTIST BY DAY AND ASPIRING WRITER BY NIGHT, AMAL GHAZALI
PONDERS ON EVERYTHING, FROM PERPLEXING, MODERN-DAY RELATIONSHIP DILEMMAS TO THE FASCINATING WORLD OF WOMEN’S HEALTH AND WELLBEING. ALL DONE OF COURSE , WHILE HAVING A GOOD LAUGH. READ MORE OF HER STORIES AT BOOTSOVERBOOKS.COM