This is a zebroid, a cross between a zebra and a horse. Interesting?
Annd..this is a cama. The precious bundle of joy shared between a camel and a llama.
This cute animal here is...oh wait. Who's this?
Well, this is Nikhil (or Gogol, as he would call himself in kindgergarten), from The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri and he is a hybrid child, just like the zebroid and cama.
Hybrid child [hahy-brid chahyld] :
1. A person formed by the constant demands of societal culture and family culture.
2. The mess left by the hopeless attempt to assimilate two cultures.
Change is inevitable in our world today, and Nikhil's life demonstrates that right from the beginning. He was born in an Indian family, but raised in America. Although he is physically no hybrid, he is a cultural hybrid, trying to figure out a place in his life for his parents' desires for him to maintain his Indian culture and the mainstream culture of America. Some hybrids have more strongly skewed characteristics from one side and this is seen in Nikhil's case as he eventually strays farther away from his Indian culture. His parents worked so hard to get him to America just so he could have a better opportunity and not experience the unhappy childhood memories they had to go through but what they weren't hoping for was a complete culture renewal in America. America is seen as the 'melting pot' where all cultures are generally blended in together and mixed up to from one big culture. Everyone has to change their own culture to be accepted.
I am a Chinese born American, meaning born in America, while my parents were born in China, a hybrid of American and Chinese culture. My parents lived in America for 20 years before we moved to Canada. Even before they had me, they already lived in America for so long that they were adapted to the American lifestyle. They came in university, so they still had a pretty open mindset, yet they still love and display their culture. Because of my parents' mindset and attitude toward culture I feel like my own upbringing was one that was open toward different cultures. Contrary to Ashima and Ashoke, my parents didn't cling on to their culture and negotiate important parts of their life away and I appreciate that.
Here, a day in the life of an all-American-Chinese hybrid child enjoying an outdoor breakfast, consisting of zucchini and tomatoes and pancakes, eaten with the family seated properly around..the deck. Note: No pancake ever properly eaten without the help of chopsticks-Mom. Also note: not a typical routine.
Coined by the term "white-washed" the American experience involves a lot of adapting and learning of the norm while forgetting and neglecting your original culture. As Gogol grows up in an American society, he comes to love all things American because he never lived in India, never felt the heartstrings that Ashima feels toward India, and never experienced the cultural connection. This is simply because he is born in America and from the moment he was born, he is most prominently and consistently exposed to the American culture. No amount of educating and visits to the native land would ever be able to combat this unstoppable, norm-setting, and overbearing culture.
"For Gogol's lunches they stand at the deli to buy cold cuts, and in the mornings Ashima makes sandwiches with bologna or roast beef. At his insistence, she concedes and makes him an American dinner once a week as a treat, Shake 'n Bake chicken or Hamburger Helper prepared with ground lamb" (Lahiri 65).
As Ashima watches her beloved son grow farther and farther away from Indian culture, there is nothing she can do to reestablish his Indian roots.
"The children in the class study without interest, wishing they could be at ballet or softball practice instead. Gogol hates it because it keeps him from attending every other session of a Saturday-morning drawing class he's enrolled in," (66).
No amount of reinforcing his true native heritage can draw him back to Indian culture. No matter how hard Ashima tries, she can not force her own desires and emotional memories into Gogol's life, it must be an entirely independent and genuine choice. How Gogol blends his Indian culture into his life and how much he incorporates it are his decision. My own parents laid out the background of my culture but whether I want to pick it up and how much to take was my decision. This freedom that my parents gave me allowed me experiment with both sides of the culture and in the end I did choose a well proportioned blend between Chinese and American culture. I didn't need to try extremely hard to blend in, nor did I feel the need to; it just came natural to me, because how to act in my everyday American school life was already incorporated into the culture that I constantly was soaking in. As for Gogol, his parents tried so hard to force their own love for India onto him that it heeded the opposite effect. The bondage that he felt to his parents' culture suppressed him and his choice later on in life when he was able to be more free was to stay far away from anything that reminded him of his past.
So the question is: How should one approach the assimilation of the inevitable coming together of two cultures? Ashima and Ashoke approached it one way with Gogol and my parents did it another. There is no right or wrong way because there is no correct way of living life. As we explore further into The Namesake, it allows me to reflect on my life and own upbringing and how it has affected the way I think of culture. What is your ideal definition and image of a culturally hybrid child?
I have a story. You have a story. And while these stories need to be heard, in the end..we are all more than a story but still simple wayfarers of life.
A blog cannot contain the entire person I am, it is just a colorful collection of my stories.
P.S. Please ignore all preview blog posts due to it being written by my high school self for an English class project requiring the creation of this blog. I only keep it for amusement purposes.
Thanks for bearing