Suyuan’s Soul

“Mama, Mama,” my daughters were murmuring. They are warmly embracing each other. I am on the other side watching all of them with tears of happiness in my eyes. This is what I had wanted to see, to see the three of you united as sisters.  Jing-Mei, you fulfilled my long cherished dream of finding the two of your sisters. I am happy to see you all pleased to see each other. Even though they could not see me while I was alive, my heart has always been longing for your presence since the moment I left the two of you near the road side.  It is not that I left you because I didn’t want the two of you, but I was left with no other option. However, I regretted a lot after leaving two of you behind. Every day and night, I thought of various strategies to find the two of you.  I wrote to many of my friends, so that I can find you two as soon as possible. Unfortunately, no matter how much I wrote to them, their reply was always hopeless. Even after several failure of not being able to get small information, I still tried my best to find the two of you until I could not take the pain any longer. Now, you have found your sister Jing Mei and father Canning. They will take care of the two of you. I am very proud of Jing-Mei. She has the best quality of selflessness and I want Jing-Mei to teach them the sense of selflessness and generosity.  Canning, my husband, with the Polaroid in his hand, is busy taking snapshots of my three daughters. You are a man of pure heart I had ever met. Canning, I am very thankful for your silent understanding. You didn’t tell me about my daughters because you thought I would feel ashamed and guilty. Moreover, I am sorry for not telling the truth that I was trying all those years to find my daughters. Now, I am satisfied that Jing Mei had fulfilled my unfinished mission. It is time for me to go… and a strong wind blew in the direction where the four of them were laughing and wiping tears from each other’s eyes. With the flash of the wind, Canning saw Suyuan rising into the sky with a satisfied smile and waving farewell. “Suyuan, your soul had wondered a lot to find these two kids, but they are found. It is time you rest your soul in peace and take refuge in the paradise of Lord Buddha,” Canning said.

Take Action

     “Waiting Between the Trees,” the last chapter talking about the characters Ying-ying and Lena in The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Ying-ying tells her stories about the process of her first marriage, how she goes through the hard time after her husband leaves her, and how she gets married to Saint Clair, Lena’s father.

     Born in the year of tiger, Ying-ying has tigers’ qualities, which includes the gold and the black sides. According to her mother, “The gold side leaps with its fierce heart. The black side stands still with cunning” (Tan 282). For Ying-ying, her black side accompanies her for more than ten years after her husband leaves her; she aborts her baby, stays in her cousin’s family, and waits patiently. I was once curious that what she was waiting for. Was it because of the thought that she was “too good for any one man” (281)? Or she had the thought that her husband would come back her side? However, I do have a better understanding about what Ying-ying wants to say at the end of this chapter; she says that she will pass her spirit to her daughter Lena, who is also a tiger, too. She will “gather together “her “past and look,” “hold the pain in the hand until it becomes hard and shiny” (286). I suppose that she realizes that waiting things to come is not enough for a person, and one should take action if she wants to get what she really wants. Therefore, Ying-ying wants to give her spirit, which is her gold side, to Lena, by which she teaches Lena to take action before things becoming late. Also, she doesn’t want to see Lena to do the same thing as what she did – waiting patiently, sticking in a same place, and losing her way to continue her life.

     I’m so surprised that the ending of this chapter is similar to the previous chapter’s, to some extent. In the previous chapter, An-mei’s mother, who is a concubine, doesn’t have any voice in that family but undergoes all the pain by herself. Finally, her mother’s death tells her how important it is to speak out one’s thoughts. Then, here, a similar lesson is being taught – if you want to get what you want, taking action is important and necessary.

     However, sometimes taking action is not an easy thing to do. Perhaps that’s the reason why Ying-ying keeps silent for such a long time. In order to do that, I think we must be brave enough. What’s your opinion?

The Guests and Cultural Values

In the chapter “Waiting between the Trees” of The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, Ying-Ying says complains about her daughter’s way of treating with a guest. It seems she is not pleased with the room her daughter and her husband have allocated as the guest bedroom, for it is not the best bedroom in the house. She indicates that according to Chinese culture, the best room of the house is assigned for the guests.

Like Chinese people, hospitality is one of the characteristic of Afghan people too. A guest in Afghan culture has a high value and respected position. Most Afghans are Muslim, and in Islam a guest should be respected and treated as a friend of God. Therefore, Afghan people provide the best food and the best place of their house for the guests. Even if they are poor, still the try to serve their guest with the best thing they have or the most expensive way they can afford.  I like this tradition because I think it encourages relationship between friends and relatives.

However, sometimes this cultural value can create problems for the families, especially poor families who live under poverty line. In Afghanistan, there are many occasions that families should invite the guests to their house; for example, when a couple gets married, they should invite both bride and groom family, or when a person dies, they should invite his or her family members so that they wouldn’t be alone. Also, when a guest from another city or country comes, all the relatives have to invite him or her for a meal. Imagine if you are from a poor family, living in a big city like Kabul, and so many relatives live with you in the same city. Imagine how many guests you will have in week!!! Most of the family’s budget goes on serving meals for the guests. The budget that is not enough to cover the basic needs of the family members themselves. Sometimes they have to borrow money for keeping their reputation by serving the guests properly, with the expensive food that they don’t eat themselves.

I guess it is good to invite guests and share your happiness and time with friends and relatives, but we should pay attention that what creates joy and a friendly atmosphere in party s is not the expensive food but the smile and respectful treatment of the host. If we come to understand that for showing our good intentions and pure feeling we do not necessarily need materialistic way, we can enjoy the moments we spend with others.