Updated: Mar 25, 2020
By The Blind Tiger
My mother was born and partially-raised over in the farming areas of Thailand. When she migrated to the US, there was an immediate culture shock; going from the beautiful exotic jungles to the impoverished domestic life but she maintained her traditional values.
Since my brother and I were born and raised on American soil, we have a different perception of behavior and culture that clashes with our mother’s. As we are mixed with both cultures, we face difficulties in disputes on regular basis solely based on the conflict of ideas. A majority of the Thai community practices and the same, if not similar, mantras due to the common religion of Theraveda Buddhism, which play a major role day-to-day life. We were raised to always present respectful, controlled, and non-confrontational. These all may seem like easy tasks, but when it comes to speaking up and presenting our own opinion/thoughts as we were taught and raised in early schooling here, that wasn’t deemed acceptable, it was in fact seen as disrespectful.
As years have gone by, my knowledge and adaptability had progressed with battles along the way, which brings me to today’s discussion of the Lamp.
A highly respected elder had supervised my volunteer role at the local Thai Temple. As months went by of weekend volunteering, I began to form a grandmother-ly relationship with said woman.
She grew fond after learning of the positive spirit I hold after battling two auto-immune disorders; one of which leaves me with “tiger-like” scars and marks. Before revealing my scars, she wouldn’t have thought there was anything wrong or had been anything wrong previously. She was instant to think that this distorted image of myself would ruin my chances of a good suitor. The holidays rolled around when she’d invited me to dinner to meet my Americanized boyfriend. She was smitten and seemed to approve of the relationship with no complaints.
As I help her at home with regular tasks, she begins to show me trinkets of her travels with her own, now deceased, American husband whom she missed dearly. She showed me an incredible lamp they inquired that must’ve been taller than I at 5’3; hand-spun wood with gorgeous details on the shade.
She told me there was only two made and in this entire country; a very rare find.
She promised me the lamp would be mine if the man she met chooses to marry me. She also mentioned that someone like myself, disfigured and scarred, wouldn’t be able to find someone so that if the opportunity presents itself, to take it solely based on that probability. There are many things wrong with the thought or rational, but for now I hold my peace knowing my worth.
I was raised in a time where you can speak your mind and determine your own fate - but with traditions taught to conceal and reserve, it’s hard to remain bottled.