One thing that I miss and forever wonder about is what it will be like to grow up having relatives. To be able to nurture your relationship with your favorite cousins and to seek help from your favorite uncle on topics you dare not reveal to your immediate family. I miss the annual get-together in celebration of the lunar new years. I miss the celebrations of major achievements between relatives of the same age, to be called uncle and looked up upon by my favorite niece. I was deprived of all that the moment I set foot on this land.
Early on, I realized that the only people I can rely on from now on are friends
By the time I earned enough money to be able to afford the plane ticket back home, a wall had already formed between us. The last time they saw me, I was a 10 year old naughty boy who chases the chicken around for fun. Now, I am a stranger in suit who showed up at their wedding dinner. We speak formally to each other because we recognize each other as someone we don’t know. My heart cried out in pain.
Fact of the matter is, once you immigrate to a new country you lose all the connections that you had built up and will forever be at a disadvantage when it comes to tapping into your network of people. There are less family gathering, less weddings to go to and generally less opportunities to get to know new people, or call up a relative in a particular field of interest that you know nothing of.
Not only are you missing these advantages, you are also doubly hindered by the fact that you are constantly reminded of it. It’s true that we complain about our family and they present a source of problems for some when they are unhealthy. The truth of the matter is, we often don’t know how useful they are until you are completely stripped of one. There are bad apples and good apples in any tree, but what’s more important is to have the connection and to learn from it. Just because a family member is a good apple doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good for growing up. They may pamper you for example and prevent you from learning how to deal with something.
So, what do I do? I turn my friends into my family of course. Someone once asked me what’s so important about that blood tie between family members. I remember thinking that there’s nothing special if only for the fact that we were put in a position to be forced to know each other and spend the major part of our lives together. Now I understand it better. It’s the connection in your brains that are formed based on the interactions you had together. In a more general way of speaking, someone you can trust that doesn’t intend you any harm. Someone you can trust to hide you for one day when you become a fugitive. That for me, is family.