My great-aunt grew up and lived a large part of her life in Nepal. She abandoned school at the tender age of fourteen to get married. She played the role of a woman, weighed down with responsibility, at a very young age. She moved to Denver, Colorado in her middle ages. After losing her husband, whom she considered to be the most important and influential individual in her life, she remained in Denver for a few more years until moving to Boston.
“Come in,” her voice rang out.
I felt weak. Everyone always told me I was lucky to have my great-aunt live with me. I loved her, but we never really spent time together. For me to be interviewing her was a big step, so I was really nervous. I took a deep breath and stepped into her bedroom. It was warm; the room had always received the most sunlight. I loved this room. It smelled of lilies and lemon. The beautiful sea-green walls, the curtains which fell like waves, and the cozy beige armchair. But, as I perched myself on its edge, the cozy armchair seemed awkward today
“So…whatdoyouwantmygenerationtopassontofuturegenerationsaboutourfamily?” I mumbled.
“What?” she asked. I figured she might have not understood me, because I had read the question as fast as I could, without once taking my eyes of the paper.
“What do you want my generation to pass onto future generations about our family?” I repeated, loud and clear this time. I boldly looked into her dark eyes.
She had a distant look. She was looking deep into the past, and searching for words. Then the words came. She showed me her parents and her siblings. She showed me that tall house on New Road and those games of soccer. I saw and I felt. I felt the love of a mother, the excitement of a scored goal, and the pain of a scraped elbow. I saw the bright red marriage sari, and the new house. I felt the burden of her womanhood responsibilities. I felt the strangeness of a new country and the loss of a loved one. I saw a colorful life. She was a storyteller and I was a hypnotized listener, every one of her words dripped with meaning and feeling. She taught lessons, and told stories, and we embarked on a journey.
“Respect,” she said. Respect was the value of our family. Respect for people, respect for surroundings, respect for life. She told me over and over again that the next generations must know how hard their parents and grandparents had worked to give them opportunities. They must treasure every drop of sweat and blood given for them. The next generations should have faith in god. They should pray and hold on to their culture.
My great-aunt remembered. She remembered the pain of blisters, and tears shed for leaving a country behind. She remembered the nights spent studying under a lamppost, and the days spent working in the fields. And, she wanted future generations to remember and understand what had been sacrificed for them in the past. They had to remember the culture and religion and keep it alive, even after we were gone. They had to know success, but more importantly they had to know failure.