Words by: Khin Chan Myae Maung
A family enters the living room after dinner. The father is in his usual spot in front of the television about to doze off. The mother and brother are gossiping about their co-workers, while the little sister huddles in her big sister’s lap as they play an endless cycle of General, Tiger and Soldier.
The uncle enters the room and sits down and starts a conversation with the family,
“I heard a really funny joke in the office today,” he says.
The family begs him to tell it, and without much hesitation, he does.
“A young woman has been arranged to marry a man—but before the night of their consummation, the young woman’s mother gives her a vile of ink and tells her to spread it on the white sheet while he’s asleep.” He pauses as the family leans in.
“The next morning the mother hears commotion from the bedroom of her newlywed daughter and son in law, so she runs up to the room to see what is the cause of this commotion—and there on the bed sheet is a large blob of black ink.” The father, the mother and the brother burst into a cloud of laughter.
The younger girl asks the older girl, what the joke was about. The older girl is not sure herself but she feels her skin already crawling with the idea of an arranged marriage.
Later that night when the family is asleep and the house has fallen still, the older girl asks the mother about the joke. Her mother replies “The ink was supposed to be red but the mother made a mistake to give black ink— if blood is not split during consummation, the husband will surely be angry.”
A Dirty Joke
A mother and daughter are having a conversation over the phone when she decides to tell her daughter a joke. She says “A man is about to marry a young woman, but is not sure if she is truly a virgin or not.” The daughter listens intently over the phone as she starts to feel uneasy.
“His friends come up with a plan to test his bride—they give the groom some green paint and tell him to paint his genitals for the wedding night.” She pauses as if to build tension for the punch line.
“The friends tell the groom, if the bride says ‘Oh I’ve never seen one like that before,’ then the groom should kill her on the spot.” The mother laughs so full heartedly over the phone that she does not hear her daughter’s breath shudder. The mother continues to laugh at the idea of a bride being battered on her wedding night. The daughter can hear her smile over the phone, and worries for her own safety.
The Punch Line
The phone conversation continues and the daughter shyly asks her mother, “So what do they do?”
The mother’s laughter lowers as if the spit in her mouth had curdled sour, “Their spoilt—impure.”
“So what happens?”
“To them? It doesn’t matter—”
The daughter has another question, but decides it is better not to push it.