This I Believe

Bezachin - San Jose, California
Entered on March 21, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: legacy, respect

Take your feet off the table

I believe in taking my feet off the table.

Coming from a very conservative culture, I was brought up to respect my elders and more importantly my family. So much so that my friends wouldn’t have been wrong if they had called me ‘Mama’s boy!’. Now this is not to say I didn’t do any mischief or nuisance growing up. I just didn’t realize how much the concept of respecting the wishes of my family was imbedded in me more than the numerous lists of appropriate behavioral conducts I was constantly reminded of.

My father, God rest his soul, used to always order me to take my feet off the table. It didn’t matter how small the table was or how insignificant. If he was present with me I wasn’t allowed – for my own good at least, if not for my own benefit. Although he put ‘his’ on the table, ‘I’ wasn’t allowed. Obviously, ‘I’ was not the man of the house.

I had rationalized with it in different ways. I could see how disrespectful it would be to him. I could see how putting your feet on a table that serves you food would be interpreted as ungrateful. I also related it with the Middle Eastern culture, which coincidently my father told me about, of how showing your bare foot to someone is taken as an insult.

After all that reasoning though, I still didn’t quit my habit of indulging my self by shrinking my body, slouching in a sofa and carelessly crowning my feet on to a pedestal as if to address a nation of toes and nails that lay below.

Just the other day as I sat with my friend in a Hookah lounge, somewhere my family would have me precisely avoid, I was trying to relax as I put my feet on to a small square glass table I had in front of me. But I couldn’t. I unconsciously recalled my legs and crossed them. I knew I could do it but I didn’t. As if I was told not to do so. Then I remembered all the times I did that – how I took my feet down for no apparent reason. It all came back to me and I relayed my train of thought on to my friend right there. I said to him ‘Isn’t it weird? My dad used to tell me to take my feet off the table all the time and now sometimes, I just can’t do it. I get really conscious I guess.’

Then it occurred. The ‘thought’ occurred, the reason why I’m writing this now. I understood right at that instance that I was to remember my father through that one gesture of obedience. A kind of acknowledgement of his presence with me. It’s been about three years now since he took ‘his’ feet off life’s table and walked on to the after life.

The funny thing is that I was the only one in my family that never wept that much for him. Even more shocking in my culture for we have to grieve profusely for the death of anyone let alone the member of your own family. I figured I was one of those people who really understood about death when they were told as a child that everyone will eventually die. Now I figure different. I think I never wept because he never left me.

I believe in taking your feet off any table for every reason in the world but I will never raise mine on to anything to honor only the presence of my father.