I’m glad she called. She wanted to ask an urgent question about somebody we both know and I replied quickly and right to the point. We haven’t talked with each other for quite a while. Being just acquaintance doing a project together for a while, we separated quietly and there seems to be no occasion to renew our acquaintance. Such is the nature of modern friendship. Or is it my ineptitude and indolence, which can be so damaging to all my relationships? I am a sloth, a real sloth.
Before our separation last time, we had several conversations and I have been regretting one thing I said during our conversation ever since. We talked about a popular book by an Asian American female writer. She said, “people often said her book is about Asian immigrants, but from an American perspective, not from an Asian perspective.” I said,
“yes, she is not Asian enough and her book is not Asian enough. Some of the stories seem to be contrived for a bit of exotic feel to it.” She was a little discouraged, but she tried not to show it. I felt very bad afterwards. She’s an Asian born in New Jersey while I’m an Asian immigrant. I somehow started to understand her even if she didn’t say it–she thinks that she’s not a real Asian and I am a real Asian; she somehow is seeking my approval. I didn’t know why she wanted to do that but I think that’s what she did. Why couldn’t I be more accepting, welcoming, generous? Also why did I have to criticize? My criticism is such a cliche. There’s nothing new to it.
When she called today, we talked about books again and I said, “I read a book by xxx, which has an Asian guy marrying xxxx. I couldn’t finish the book since the Asian guy sounds so not Asian.” Then I realized my mistake–the same mistake I committed last time. So I added, “my idea of Asian is so narrow. I always forget that Asians have a big diaspora going on. Who’s to say who’s Asian and who’s not Asian?”
She heartily agreed. I could almost see her happy face. I felt very happy too that I apologized for a mistake that has been annoying me for quite a while.