Sunday, March 1, 2009

Family - "Blood is thicker than water"


“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.”
Thich Nhat Hanh (Vietnamese Monk, Activist and Writer. b.1926)

Is it coincidence that I should begin this post on family with a quote from a famous Vietnamese monk? Touché…My beginning words were originally, “To my delight, I found out just yesterday that I have many relatives living in Vietnam”. When I re-read what I just wrote, it just seems planned and might I add a bit corny. :) Leaving bygones to be bygones, I will now concentrate on what I wanted to say and digress no further.
One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the “differences” from one culture to a next. Important to note prior to reading this would be that I am of “mixed” ethnicity and thus my cultural lineage spans a vast diaspora. Therefore one can imagine how easily and quickly I became interested in various cultures around the world. It was only yesterday my Acha (eldest aunt), uncle, cousin and his family paid us an unexpected visit. It was more than a pleasant surprise and we welcomed them with warm hugs and spoke of the usual family topics that are associated with such “get-to-togethers”.
It was however slightly challenging at first to understand their English from a heavy Asian accent, but soon all of us were laughing and conversing as if we had never parted. I guess that’s what makes us family…

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”
Dr. Seuss (American Writer and Cartoonist best known for his collection of children's books. 1904-1991)

It was much later in the conversation, when they were updating us on all the other family members that we were told that we have many relatives in Vietnam…and to think I had limited my paternal lineage to China. The world suddenly seemed even smaller and the urge to travel the world was again rekindled. Honestly, it didn’t interest me as much to know about the ones in Australia, Europe or Canada. What gets me “fired up” is hearing about those that still live in culturally rich societies and carry on their lives in different ways to what we know and accept as normal.

Believe me, when I say it is always a great pleasure having family over especially when they bring with them the tales of civilisations and a people foreign to me yet inherent in me. It is almost synonymous to building the pieces of a puzzle together, as I seek to discover my true origins thousands of miles away from my ancestral heritage. To add to this nostalgic dilemma, I live in a small island in a cosmopolitan society which makes the prospect of travelling the seven seas all the more desirable. It is my dream one day to go on a journey of self discovery to which I earnestly look forward to.

For on my mother’s parentage there also lies a story to uncover. Afghan blood was dipped in the water of the Ganges, and so my lineage extends further into Asia. My identity has always been a cause for attention, sometimes innocent, sometimes discerning. Growing up there were conflicts of identity in my mind not based from my home I must say but from the time I started school it all began. In different societies they always had the tendency of addressing me as a “different” race to their own likewise with my siblings. It was evident that we, my brothers and I would never belong to one set race or be accepted into one. However conflicting it initially proved to be, my way of thinking gradually changed and I now view it as something of priceless value. I appreciate every feature of my face and identity as it contributes to who I am. As I continue on my path to discovery I share with you thoughts on what family means to me. It encompasses a lifetime of experiences that I want to dive into in order to feel the true worth of the blood that runs so freely in me.

It is not difficult to see I am indeed a “family” person. I sit here writing after I came from visiting an aunt who recently came back from visiting her sister; another aunt; in New York, and then checking in on my great grandmother who is still alive, at 97 years old, mashaAllah. Family for me makes the world go round and though we may not always see eye to eye, it is only natural to be inclined to affection for them.

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family”
Anthony Brandt

Blogging with purpose,
Mariamlelue

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