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Loving An Average Man: Does Love Truly Conquer All?

by Helmy Sa'at

Loving An Average Man’ is available to watch on Qalbox. New users enjoy a 7-day free trial, which also gives access to the full features of the Muslim Pro app ad-free! Claim your free trial today!

Love is predictably something we take for granted. As naturally as it surfaces in our hearts and wholly envelopes our beings, love is also very easily taken or snatched away from us in the blink of an eye. As we ride the waves and occasionally tumble in the currents of love, how easily do we let ourselves be swept away when our love is challenged or tested? Does love, truly, conquer all?

Loving You Is Just The Beginning

An intertwined destiny in a marriage is not solely shaped by only two individuals. Indeed, a marriage is not an island. This is exactly what Nani Dinda Wirawan, or Nania, and Muhammad Rafli Imani discover following their confessions of marital commitment to each other. The next key step is to gain the blessings of their families.

Being a field executive supervisor and a mentor to Nania during her internship as an architect undergraduate two years prior are not enough. Worst, Nania has fallen for a man whose humble roots appear to be no match for her sisters’ husbands, ranging from Teguh, a promising politician, Doni, a successful young businessman and Anwar, a psychiatrist who lectures at several universities. However, most heartbreaking of all to Nania’s mother is the lost opportunity for Nania to get hitched with Tyo, a doctor.

Understandably, Rafli was grilled by Nania’s family upon his visit for Nania’s father’s birthday celebration. The following profound exchange stemming from a comical situation and line of questioning (for this, you have to watch it for yourself!) would have anyone sweating at the edge of his or her seat mirroring Rafli’s circumstance:

Nania’s father voicing his concern: “Tolong berikan satu alasan kenapa saya harus berikan restu kepada kamu untuk menikahi putri saya?” (“Please give me a reason why I should give my blessings for you to marry my daughter?”)

“Kerna Nania memberikan saya motivasi untuk maju, pak. Saya mencintai Nania. Dan InshaAllah saya akan menjaga dia seumur hidup saya.” (“Because Nania gives me the motivation to do better, uncle. I love Nania. And, InshaAllah I shall look after her for the rest of my life.”)

A still from Loving An Average Man, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

Soft-spoken yet exuding quiet charisma compounded by his honest and rational ways of doing things attracted Nania from the start. It very well won over her family, too. Almost all, at least.

Love Is Not Blind

Finding (true) love is not easy. And, chances of finding an individual to be on the same page on most things and choose to love each other and be together for eternity is even harder.

In an age of revolving romances that plague the youngsters, Nania appreciates Rafli’s pragmatic sentimentality and romantic outlook that she lovingly surmises: “Kamu itu memang luarbiasa antik.” (“You are definitely extraordinarily antiquated.”)

A still from Loving An Average Man, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

Nania’s attraction to Rafli is not fleeting; however, she questions her choices by seeking answers in order to not let just feelings of affection and love blind her way forward.

“Gi mana mungkin seseorang yang gak berpacaran langsung bernikah? Bukankah kita harus kenal sama pasangan kita ya? (“How is it possible for someone to get married without dating first? Are we not supposed to get to know our partner?”)

“Harus. Harus kenal. Kenal sekenal-kenalnya. Tapi, kenal dalam rangka untuk menuju ke jenjang pernikahan.” (“Certainly. Certainly have to get to know. Really get to know each other. However, it is to be done with the intention of marriage.”)

“Terus kalau gak cocok bagaimana?” (“What if there is no compatibility?”)

“Laki-laki yang berani untuk mengajak perempuan baru adalah laki-laki yang yakin. Bahwa perempuan itu akan cocok untuknya.” (“A man who is bold to ask a new woman this, is a determined man. Knowing that that woman is compatible for him.”)

“Memangnya perempuan seperti apa yang cocok untuk kang Rafli?” (“So, what kind of woman is suited for you?”)

“Yang saleh dan menutupi auratnya. Agar kita sama-sama ke syurga.” (“A pious woman who dresses modestly. So, together we could enter paradise.”)

Rafli’s confidence gave Nania belief in his sincerity and love. Later, she reiterated tearfully her conviction about her love and trust in Rafli to her mother and sisters who continue to trivialise her choices and decisions: “Kebahagian terlalu sempit kalau cuma dimaknai dengan material.” (“The meaning of happiness would be too narrow if it is only measured by material things.”)

Marriage Is Also Work

A still from Loving An Average Man, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

Do you walk away when the journey gets tough? Nania was left paralysed and suffering from memory loss due to retrograde amnesia following a car accident. What would you do if you were in Rafli’s shoes? Ideally, being in a committed relationship is also about putting in the work in overcoming challenges and resolving problems.

How much do societal and familial pressures outweigh a couple’s love for each other? From financial burden piling up due to hospitalisation bills and being the primary caretaker of their children, Yasmin and Yusuf, literally overnight create mounting pressure that weighs heavily on Rafli’s shoulders. As Rafli swallows his pride in trying to save his marriage and love, he is constantly doubted on the happiness of their marriage by Nania herself: “Semua diceritakan begitu indah dan sempurna.” (“Everything that is told sounds so beautiful and perfect.”)

A painful lesson for Rafli (and us as the audience) is that we are not entitled to facts other than our truths and lived realities. Truths that have many faces and lived realities viewed differently by all parties involved.

Tyo’s caution rings a bell and sums up Rafli’s predicament: “Tahu dan percaya itu dual hal yang berbeda. Bagaimana mungkin dia bisa percaya sesuatu yang tiada dalam ingatannya?” (“Knowing and believing something are two different matters. How could she possibly believe something that is not in her memory?”)

A still from Loving An Average Man, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

What is Rafli’s choice? Should he cling on to Nania’s words when they first met: “Mencuba dan terus berusaha tetap lebih baik, kang. Perkuat harapan dengan doa-doa, InshaAllah bisa.” (“To try and keep working on it are definitely better choices. Strengthen hope with prayers, inshaAllah it is possible.”)

Does Love Truly Conquer All?

Clock is ticking. Three days left before Nania jets across the world to be treated in Germany. What is the fate of their love? More importantly, what are Rafli and Nania’s choices?

Is it courage or cowardice when choosing to sacrifice one’s love in moving forward? Is letting go of Nania the only way? Is surrendering even an option?

A still from Loving An Average Man, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

No more spoilers at this juncture. I leave you with the following breadcrumbs as you race to watch Loving An Average Man (Cinta Laki-Laki Biasa) by signing up for Qalbox: “Kamu itu pohon hidupku, kang.” (“You are my tree of life, dear.”) Oh, and add a storm complete with lightning.