“Can you talk with your son Jack? He’s really not study very hard at all. His grades are falling and he’s more interested in playing video games than anything else.” Armei says to her husband Arhu one day. Whenever Armei says “your son”, Arhu knows that Jack has been doing something to annoy his mother Armei.
On a Sunday morning, when Armei is out shopping, Arhu starts the following conversation with his son. Jack is about fifteen now and he’s even taller than his father, but Arhu still treats him like a little boy who will take whatever his father says and run with it.
Arhu: “Jack, you need to work hard and stop playing your video games. Hardworking is our family tradition. You know, Jack, I arrived in New York City with only $100 in my pocket. Nothing else. No skills, no support, no connection, no prospect. However I work hard for twenty years and build us a life here in New Jersey.”
Jack: “That’s only partially true, isn’t it?”
Arhu: “It’s the truth. The whole truth. What do you mean partially true?”
Jack: “Although you don’t have connections in New York, you have all the connections back in Southeast Asia. This is why you can run your import-export business.”
Arhu: “Oh…” He is a little surprise at the response and tries to think of way to retort.
Jack: “You also grew up with three languages–Malay, Cantonese, English–which are essential skills for an international business.”
Arhu: “I sent you to weekend language tutoring, but you won’t learn.”
Jack: “I don’t have the language environment at all. My friends only want to speak English.”
Arhu: “I spent thousands and thousands of dollars for your tutoring …”
Jack: “That’s not all. Traditional values offered you a wife who would sacrifice everything for you without you making any effort to deserve it. You have all the advantages, while I’m the one who has to fight every inch of my way.”
Arhu: “What are you talking about? Is that what your mother is telling you behind my back? I am not making any effort to deserve her? I have to travel back and forth to run the business. I am often working like a dog just to support this family. I am not making any effort. How can you say that? How can your mother say such a thing?”
There’s a noise at the door.
“I am back.” Armei says, “and look at the discount durian I bought.”
Armei comes to the kitchen with arms full of grocery bags. Arhu stares at her, ready to start an argument.