|Three fruit juice drinks...|
The beauty of this somewhat controversial Malay phrase is in its subtle reference to the connection between something that can be both sweet and bitter. In all likelihood, it was a woman who first uttered these words, perhaps someone on the unfavourable end of a marital relationship.
`Madu' here of course refers to honey, while the `bermadu' part is the situation where a man is married to more than one wife. It has long puzzled me how the tasty product of bees can lend its name to polygamy. The virtues and healing properties of honey is well-known. Even the holy Al-Quran mentions this fact. On the other hand, stories of bitter polygamous marriages far outscore those of the `happily-ever-after' kind... at least the ones that I have personally heard anyway.
It may be interesting to note that in English-speaking regions, the word `honey' is also used as a term of endearment that one would call one's spouse or sweetheart. Alas, its Malay equivalent does not normally carry the same tone of affection.
Malay men, especially those of a certain age-group, can talk about this subject of bermadu for hours on end, without the slightest feeling of boredom or fatigue. Some purposely speak about it in front of their wives, either in jest or with hidden intentions. But based on my observations, those who openly talk about it, rarely actually do it. Mostly it is the silent and innocent-looking men who are the crafty ones.
The movie Madu Tiga is one of the more famous film by the late P. Ramlee. It tells the story of a certain En. Jamil who manages to marry three women, initially without any wife knowing about the other two. Such a scenario is practically impossible in present-day situation... but if there is such a man who can do it, then I tip my hat to him.
Okay then... lest I incur the wrath of my lady friends, I'll end this post by telling that Just Observations is 3-years old today. Thank you to all friends, readers and commenters for keeping me company.