For the longest time in my teens and twenties I could not decide whether I wanted to marry a man known to my family and live in the same community where we have a history or marry somebody from a far off place and build a life in a community where we had no history. Eventually, I leaned towards the first scenario and I did marry and settle down in the place where my father and his father were born. Where both grandfathers grew up.
In my thirties and early forties I reveled in the easy camaraderie that you get with people with a shared history. I did not question the traditions that we practiced. Going to the cemetery on Nov.1, preparing misua for somebody’s birthday, celebrating moon festival, staying at home on the first day of the year… My mom was the keeper of these traditions and practices and I did not mind following them. It served as a sort of anchor, reinforcing my identity and keeping in touch with my culture.
My mom has passed on. Now, nobody is around to remind us of these traditions. And I have no urge to continue these traditions. I don’t think I am a rebel. I think I am just lazy to prepare for all these practices. But lately, I enjoy the freedom of not being tied to the past. It is a strange feeling to be free from your culture. This year my sons will not be home for November 1. We no longer prepare misua on birthdays. The autumn/ moon festival holds no meaning for me. And if my children decide to go somewhere for New Year’s day – I do not think I will mind at all.
When I was in the middle of a ceremony, it did feel satisfying to know where you came from and what helped define you. But now that its been a year that I have consciously let go of traditions, I also feel at peace at not being tied down to an identity. I do not know if this latest development is bad or good. All I know is it feels good to be detached from the past. A little trepidation at ignoring my mom’s teachings but also a little lighter without all the baggages.