Thursday, 22 September 2011

Our traditions come from our fathers, not our mothers

Tradition is something that does not make sense to outsiders that you perform out of respect for your father. The reason why most white British people do not have any traditions now is because they do not have fathers. That is why they no longer know what they are or who they are, and because the female-dominated teaching profession does not see fit to teach British children their history and the wars that their father's father 's father fought and won. That is why so many of them cling to the idea of Englishness and their race because that is the only thing they can find to cling to, while other races have their religion and their fathers who are married to their mothers.


I being Chinese, have my own traditions, specifically that of ancestor worship. In my childhood I remember my grandmother laying out the table and putting food on it. I remember how she would ask the dead and departed ancestors to come to have their meal, and I remember her asking if they had finished. (This was done by means of two pieces of wood that served the purpose of coins when you flip them and ask "Heads or tails?") I remember asking her, after a series of answers that said NOT YET, when she wanted to clear up the table, whether it was permissible to keep flipping the coins until you got the answer you wanted, in quick succession.

She told me it was not permissible to treat the ancestor spirit like a customer an impatient waiter wanted to pay up and go, and there were certain rules about how many times you were allowed to ask if they had finished within a stated period of time.

I doubt she really believed that the ancestor spirits really came to dine. The point was that by going through this ritual, my ancestors were remembered, and the living had something to eat after the ancestor spirits had finished their meal.

This duty was the duty of women. The duty of men is that they remind their wives of this duty. It can be quite onerous because there are a number of such occasions in the year and it was basically an excuse to have a slap-up meal.

So you can see that if most Chinese were bastards like the White British are nowadays, no tradition of any kind would be passed on, and we would never meet any members of our extended family, who help us to define ourselves.

I remember too how pompous I thought my father was when he kept going on about Tradition, and how my mother would make light of his lectures to us on its importance.

When I returned home in recent years, a wealthy lady I knew who had divorced sons said she did not see the point of continuing in such pointless traditions, and women were too busy these days to do such things, because they have jobs.

But I at least have the memory of that tradition. Even though I know most Chinese no longer do such things, yet my life is richer for it. For some reason, this brings tears to my eyes, for not just my lost childhood but the lost childhoods and lost traditions of so many others that have been trampled on by liberal-feminist-consumerism.

Religion used to be the opium of the people; now it is sex and shopping.

2 comments:

Adolfo said...

I think someone needs a hug!
Oh, man, you have touched a chord! We have a very similar tradition here in Mexico. On November 1st and 2nd, celebrations are held in honor of dead people, basically pagan traditions under the guise of Catholicism. On those days, every family stage an ‘Ofrenda’ (Oblation) in its house. A big table is placed in the living room and covered with a nice tablecloth. In one side of the table you place all your ‘guests’, your beloved dead ones, a collection of sugar made skulls, the size of an Easter egg with the name of your dead relatives printed on the forehead. Then you have to cook and place on the table all the dishes and drinks your ‘guests’ used to like when they were alive. ‘Mole poblano’, Mexican rice, ‘tamales’, pork in green chili sauce, steamed goat, chicken in peanut sauce, ‘corpse’s bread’ (a special bread just baked for that day), tequila, brandy, chocolate bars, coffee, cigarettes, anything has to be cooked and served on the table, along with candles, ‘cempasúchitl’ flowers (marigold flowers, the dead people’s flowers) and a Christian cross. The food is placed on November 1st at noon, so the spirits of dead children come to have their meal. Adults have their turn the next day, November 2nd. No matter how delicious the food is or the time and effort you spent in cooking it, you are not allowed to touch it, nor taste it, nor eat it. All the dishes are on the table for two days and finally dumped to the trash on November 3rd at noon.
I still remember my two grandmothers, every one of them at their own houses staging ‘Ofrendas’ year after year. Both of my parents’ families come from an Ultra-Catholic yet very poor background. Although my two grandmothers spent their elderly years in an economic security environment provided by their sons and daughters, both of them had very simple lives, almost monastical. But those two days of every year were different. I remember the richness of the food, the hours, the hard efforts, and the neatness to prepare every dish; the respect to pray and to call the spirits and the seriousness to continue a tradition. It was like a… like a… like a… what’s the fucking word...? Oh, yes! It was like a religious experience.
I still remember how one day my maternal grandmother was ready to clear up the table. Before taking every dish, glass and bottle, she finger tested one of the dishes she has cooked, and with a gesture she approved of starting to clear up the table. I witnessed the fact and she could read in my face my confusion, so she finger tested again the food while telling me: ‘See? Total and completely tasteless! That means that our dead beloved ones, including your grandfather, already finished having their meal, and now they have gone back at God’s house”. I, being a five year old boy, was very impressed, almost shocked, from hearing that.
Do we continue practicing such a tradition in my family? Of course not! The reason? Well, as I told you my father’s family was very poor. When my father was four, my grandfather died and my grandmother was left widow with four children. At the age of eleven my father left the school and started working in any job to provide for my grandmother. Some years later he found the way to finish elementary school, then grammar school and finally to get a BS in Engineering. Then, he married my mother, raised three children with her (me and my two brothers) and gave us a good living. In the way, he became Marxist-Communist-Atheist, so he doesn’t like to ‘practice witchcraft, nor he believes in stupid superstitions’. So, when my two grandmothers died, many family traditions died with them. Oh, yes! Ye olde good times! Who cares, anyway?
http://goo.gl/cq0l

Claire Khaw said...

Thank you for your very moving account of your lost traditions, Adolfo.