This I Believe

Amandeep - Arlington, Virginia
Entered on October 11, 2007

Adapting to a new environment like America, can make culture seem less important, and so effectively that culture is lost.

“Hey Ma, I am home.” I took in a smell of my mom cooking. I took of my shoes before going into the house. I saw my dad sitting on the couch and said, “Hey dad”. I went into the kitchen and saw my mom cutting up onion and garlic. “What are you cooking Ma?” She replied “daal”, which are lentils. “How was…” My mom looked up and shook her head. “Aman what did I tell you, just yesterday!” I looked at her confused and then realized she was talking about me speaking in English. It annoyed the heck out of her when I talked in English at home. Not that she couldn’t speak English; she understood and spoke it fine. I said, “Sorry”. She then yelled from the kitchen to my dad, “I swear they are turning into Americans.” I laughed and my mom gave me a stern look and said in Punjabi, “sachien Aman, tusin sare Americanah wanjhu galla kar de ne.” This means seriously Aman you are all talking like Americans. She was referring to me and my siblings. Then I began to defend myself when I realized she wasn’t joking. “What do you expect, Ma? We’ve been living in America for what, 13 years.” I could tell she was mad. “That doesn’t mean you have to forget your culture.” I then tried to talk back to her in Punjabi to show her I knew how to, but was lost for words. I couldn’t put into words what I would say and how. She saw my struggle, and said noisily so my dad could hear, “SEE, you’re forgetting how to talk!” Then she went to a complete tangent and said, “How will you teach your children to speak Punjabi if you can’t? Will they come home and say, hi grandma, hi grandpa. They won’t even know what dadi and dada are.” Now this was just too much, I burst out in laughter, “Oh my god ma, are you seriously talking about my future kids!” My mom couldn’t help but smile, but then said, “Aman our culture will be lost in another generation, if you adapt to America this quickly.” At the time I just took it as a joke and laughed it off. But then I really got to thinking about her words. I learned two things that day. The first was that she was right; my kids will probably not know how to speak Punjabi, unless I am the one to influence them. And the second was that I was forgetting my own culture and it seemed inevitable. Adapting to a new environment like America, can make culture seem less important, and so effectively that culture is lost. This I believe.