"What should we do with her? Every day she isbecoming more like her friends. She is not American and she has to realizethat." I overheard everything they said, and no matter how I tried, I couldnot block it out.
"Look at her friends. They are dating boys andgoing out all the time. I cannot believe their parents let them do that at such ayoung age. I would not be surprised if they lie to their parents, too. We cannotlet our daughter be friends with people like that. She has to understand that sheis not like them. She can have fun later in life, but right now she needs tostudy."
I was so confused and angry with my parents. Am I a badperson because I dislike many aspects of my Indian heritage? This question wouldnot even exist if I had not moved to America ten years ago. I would still be aninnocent little girl in India, enjoying life without taking risks or tryinganything new. Moving to America was probably the greatest thing for me because ithas given me countless opportunities to discover my true self. Selfishly, I havetried to ignore my background by replacing it with American ways of thinking andacting. I have been unsuccessful because my parents are a constant reminder ofwho I am and where I came from. Without their support and guidance, though, Iwould be even more confused. I am not embarrassed by my heritage, and I cannotemphasize that enough. Sometimes, though, I just feel that compared with theAmerican culture I was raised with, the Indian culture is old-fashioned.
My whole life can be summed up by two words: cultural clash. Although notscarred by this clash, I have definitely been affected by it. It is frustratingto have to teach my parents American ways. Often I find myself playing the adult,teaching them the basics, such as proper manners. I still remember howembarrassed I was when my dad burped in public. I had to explain that noteverything that is acceptable in India is tolerated in America.
SometimesI envy American families who carry on wonderful conversations. There is a lack ofcommunication in my family because of a language barrier. Many teenagers complainthat they cannot talk to their parents because they "speak differentlanguages," but my parents and I literally speak different languages, and wehave a hard time understanding each other. They speak English with a heavyaccent, making it difficult to comprehend, and I cannot speak Gujurati very well.They try so hard to speak good English while I hardly try to speak Gujurati. Eventhough I may not say it, their efforts are very admirable.
After tenyears in America, I have come to realize that many Americans believe happinessand health are keys to having a wonderful life. But, according to my parents andall my relatives, education and wealth are the top priorities. My dad alwayswants to be greater than everyone in our family in every respect. After my familymoved, my uncle moved into an even bigger house. After my dad bought a store, myuncle bought two. My uncle is winning, so my dad feels inferior, and is willingto do anything to regain his position. They do not realize that, in the end, themoney they make or the house they have will not matter.
I believe I wasput on this earth is to find my one true love and live happily ever after.However, I am denied that chance due to the beliefs passed down by my ancestors.The Indian culture is very conservative in terms of dating andlove.
"Girls your age should not even be thinking about boys. Youshould be focusing on your education. If you get off track now and gain interestin the opposite sex, you will be throwing away your future. You do not want that,do you? If you fall in love now you might as well say good-bye to your hopes anddreams. Remember, education always comes first, no matter what."
Ihave heard this lecture too many times. But I know as soon as I graduate fromcollege, they will start their search for a husband for me. They do notunderstand that I can find someone myself. I appreciate their eagerness to findthe perfect one for me, but I prefer to do it on my own.
I am so confusedbecause my way of life conflicts with my culture. Moving to America has disruptedmy mind. I am American but I am also Indian. Where does that leave me? My parentshave to understand that we are in America now and I have assimilated Americanways of thinking. Maybe the only solution is that they, too, adopt American ways.However, it would only be fair if I changed my attitude as well. It is hard beinga teenager, but dealing with a cultural clash makes it even more difficult. Myconflict will make me a stronger person, able to coordinate the two cultures intomy future.
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