Thursday, February 22, 2007

How can you say I go about things the wrong way

I reach into the freezer and withdraw a jar of coriander, which I had frozen for future use. I open the jar and to my astonishment see that the process of freezing has made the coriander into a smooth paste. This is obviously a dream, as just yesterday, the jar I had put in the freezer would not open. I proceed to add a spoonful of coriander paste to some dish I am cooking, maybe its lamb curry?

I am then sitting with my sister and my boyfriend at the dining table in my apartment. Except it more closely resembles the apartment that I had resided in University because of the formation of the furniture. I hear a key turning the lock on my door. I have a moment of panic. I have a vision which shows me the other side of the door and I see my parents. I have an initial urge to run and clear the place of all items that would bother my parents i.e. alcohol, drugs and pork. I resist this urge and remain seated. My parent’s barge in to the apartment and at that instant I look over at my boyfriend and he is now wearing a lavender sari.

The detail of the sari comes to me later when I am showering. It is a beautiful sari with delicate embroidery work of paisleys in pale purple sequins. I recall a photograph from our family album, which shows my mother wearing said sari in 1978, on a trip to Niagara Falls which we had taken. In the photograph my mother looking impossibly young, she is holding me at the age of one, with the tail of her sari fluttering to the side. Her hair is parted down the middle, with her plait of braided hair falling just below her hips. In the background is a white man, with a thick moustache and a mullet, wearing short red shorts and a tank-top in the fashion of the late seventies. The contrast between my mother and the trailer park trash in the background makes the picture stand out in my memory. And, now when I recall the dream, an image of the photograph passes through my head, as if it were part of the dream. Dreams become so malleable after the fact, so unreliable in terms of authenticity.

The dream now becomes flashes of images. My parents are storming through my apartment. My mother picks up a bottle of rum and screams. My father sees a bag of weed and gives me that disapproving stare which is his trademark. I don’t recall them leaving the apartment, but they seem to have vanished. I did not make excuses regarding what they saw but I also did not declare that this is how I live. The dream then rewinds and gives me a flashback; like a Quentin Tarintino film. I see my parents coming up to my apartment, pushing a buggy that is loaded with groceries. They have decided that they will tolerate me living on my own and to show their acceptance they have bought groceries for me. Now it shows my mother talking to me with the buggy of groceries in-between us, and while she doesn’t open her mouth her thoughts come clear to me, “I could accept you living on your own, but I can’t accept your life-style”.

The dream is jarring. I wake up feeling drained and empty inside. I don’t want to get out of bed. I keep going back to sleep, saying to myself, I will rise the next time. I am partially allowed this indulgence as my boss is not in the office today and no one really watches what I do. I finally force myself out of bed at an entirely unacceptable hour and staring out the window I feel remnants of depression. I have the sensation that I am doing something wrong and there is a slight edge of panic. I feel like I did that year in University when I had my first nervous break-down. While I get dressed quickly just throwing on the first item I grab from my closet, I try to understand these feeling of despair I have. For, I haven’t felt like this in ages and these emotions are no longer applicable. I am not in school flunking out of all my classes with mounting debt and dwindling cash in my bank account. If anything, the situation is quite opposite, I have a cute apartment, a successful career and am earning more money than I have ever before. But, their does remain one constant, my parents, who seem incapable of understanding me.

I haven’t spoken to my mother for close to two months. Every day that goes by, which lengthens the silence between us, makes it seem more difficult to break the silence; like a dam solidified with cement every day we don’t communicate. When I first moved out, I would call her every other day. Then it became weekly and eventually bi-weekly. It would always be me calling and our conversation would not last more than two minutes. Our conversation would basically consist of me asking her how everything was, and she would ask me the same. She would then ask what I had to eat for dinner and then wish me a good-day, thereby ending the call. My sister revealed to me that my mother had told her to stop talking to me. My mother’s rationale was that if I felt cut-off from my family, I would feel compelled to return home. I shook my head in sadness when my sister told me this, as it indicated that she still didn’t understand. I also learned from my sister that my mother was outraged I had allowed my sister to have a party and sleepover with her friends at my place, as this broke rules of Muslim propriety.

“That’s so wrong, how could he have four girls sleep at his home,” my mother had supposedly declared.

“Don’t worry, Bhaijan would never do anything, their like his sisters,” my sister had said defending me.

“I know, I know, but what would others say?” my mother had purportedly asked.

“Which others are you talking about Ami? Who is watching what I do?”

After learning about this argument, that my mother knew about my aiding and abetting in a lie to help my sister, I didn’t want to speak to her. It would lead to an argument that would be unpleasant.

I feel the dream is fairly explicit in outlining the impasse that is my life in terms of my relationship with my family. I have gained independence from my parents and now have the freedom to live my life as I please. They will never understand the choices I have made. I always will pause and look away as a chord of sadness is plucked inside me, when me and my boyfriend talk hypothetically about getting married, discussing how we would have our wedding. For I know, that would be an event my parents would never attend. And, if by some miracle they did attend, I would not know how to behave, as I would be plagued with guilt at having to subject them to such an event. My life is on a path that is incomprehensible to them, a Friday sermon describing the evils of the West come to life.

On the way to work, I racked my head, trying to explain the feeling of depression that had infected me in the morning. I realized that I am not eating well. When I first moved out I made a concentrated effort to eat well and to save money by cooking as often as possible. For the last two weeks I have eaten strictly take-out, lots of deep fried foods, lots of saturated fats, and not a vegetable or fruit in sight. In fact, my diet is similar currently to how I ate that horrid year of University. I have definitely found that there is a relation between how I feel and how I eat. And, then I remember the start of the dream, I was cooking some sort of curry; my sub-conscious is giving me a nudge to clean up my diet.

After writing all this, I think I will call my mother tonight. She might have been mad at me before, but now she probably feels that I do not think about her, or can not bother to check up on her. I will make sure that I eat better, so I do not return to an unhealthy emotional state which should remain in the past. Still, I do not know the solution to my impasse, how do I include them in my life? How do I have a gay partner who I potentially might want to live with forever and conservative Muslim parents that believe “the gays” should be shot? This question has plagued me in one form or another since I was a tender young teen and now that I am approaching thirty and the answer is still elusive. Our respective visions of what life should be like are mutually exclusive – how the fuck do you reconcile that?


Blogger Special K said...

It seems to me at times that no matter what your background-race, religion, ethnicity-our generation has one thing in common. The powerful ability to alienate our parents.

9:41 PM  

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