I had not intended to, but I married a ghost bride. It was for the same old reason why every 7/10 Singaporeans do it: to apply for a HDB flat.
At the counter, the HDB staff handling my case was taken aback. My bride was exceptionally quiet and pale. She also had dark circles under her eyes. "Oh, sorry, wedding make-up... It was quite the emotional affair," I lied. Thereupon I spitted on a tissue and pretended to remove whatever mascara that had melted away by that aforesaid emotional distress. The staff visibly recoiled at my very open display of affection. My "wife" reached to stroke my face and a nail fell off. "Fake nail for the wedding," I hurriedly lied once more, before picking it up and pocketing the somewhat ghastly cuticle for "fixing up" later.
"Fixing up" is what you must do for a ghost bride. Maybe it had to do with being jittery over being a new bride, a new daughter-in-law, and pet owner. I had no time to find out if she was a cat or dog person. My dog of five years gave me a look of contempt and left.
It also left a pile of shit in my loafer. WTF?
There is no manual for living with a ghost bride. I was also at a loss as to whom I should appeal to. The Taoist priest who solemnized our "marriage"? Or the matchmaker lady who put our bazi together? "Aiyah, you otaku-type one, she's stay-at-home type, very matching lor!" - and that was that. I wanted to give her hell money as angpow, but ever the realist, she said "Half real, half bluff one, ok?" $800 was pretty real (and painful), I'd thought.
One night I woke up to find a paper figure effigy sitting on the sofa in my living room, the TV showing late night static. Where did she go? It's weird to be possessive about a ghost bride, but as they say, if a woman does your laundry well and presses your shirts to military precision, you'll want to hang on to her! (I think that's what my grandpa used to say. He was always so presentable even when taking out the garbage!) Besides, sitting in a room with a paper figure that's more tubes than boobs is kind of eerie, no? I only wished the matchmaker had commissioned a better-looking one. "Standard model," was what that mu-yan por lady had replied when I later quizzed her. And I couldn't really fault her. After all, she did go to the best paper-joss craftsmen in Blk 34, Upper Cross Street.
Note to self: I will commission a better-looking effigy next time. 34-24-36. Only 34? I'm not greedy. Give me Dolly Parton and I'll start smiling like Joaquin Phoenix's Joker... - cracklines extending from both ends of my mouth. Pain, sia!
Next time? Will there be a next time? The thing about ghost brides is that polygamy is not frowned upon. I could have a harem of them although imaging them all sitting in my hall looking sullen and not all sun-healthy can be quite the sight. At least playing Pictionary would be more exciting, no?
"Circle...wheels? Multi-storey carpark!!!"
Eighteen-levels of hell. Oh.
Pictionary with ghost brides, I believe, can be challenging.
So, every time my ghost bride went back to the in-laws, I was left with her inanimate effigy. That kind of leaves me rooted to the spot unsure of what to do. I'd usually move her to the bed and cover her with a blanket. By the time she re-appears pre-dawn, she would be both cold and tired.
While waiting, I would go back to being an otaku. Turn on my computer and game a bit. Funnily, I'd had lost all interest in porn. Somehow, those women appear too frisky, too wet and all too "noisy". I kind of like my ghost bride and her quiet ways. I could sit and stare at her all day. Is that love?