the namesake

saw this last week with cha, tracy, and wendy, and it moved me to tears. not just choking up, but tear spillage, continually running down my face — something that doesn’t happen to me very often in movies. it was just a beautiful film. if you have parents or a heart, it’ll touch you; and if you have immigrant parents, well… it might do to you what it did to me.

it’s the story of an indian couple that immigrates to the states and their story here — and that of their son and his struggles with his cultural identity. and man, it just got me. the cultural identity piece is something that always resonates with me, but the story of the parents… it gave me such a deeper appreciation for my parents and what they went through when they got here. moving from their families to a frozen, barren wasteland to study, not knowing the language, the customs, anyone. it absolutely broke my heart… and they did that for me and my brother, knowing that one day they’d have children who would benefit from their suffering.

there were other similarities between their family and mine — many subtle, but then all the more piercing. (if you haven’t seen it yet, skip this next part.) my parents came here for their phds, and my mom studied at columbia. my parents fell in love in the states. my dad was in a huge accident before he met my mom. my parents are professors. my parents moved from their families, a tropical climate, and a homogenous society to a freezing cold, culturally diverse cities where they knew no one. they settled in a suburb of one of those cities. my family has two children, one boy, one girl. my parents used to drive me around in their old car to see various sights, just our little displaced family and our car and a camera. the irritation i had when my dad tried to have profound teaching moments with me. the way he took it in silence. he used to go outside to smoke. my brother and i used to hate going back to their homeland. my grandmother would have made someone follow me if i went for a run. the way my brother and i make fun of each other. i used to watch my dad shave. the way you don’t have to know any of your parents’ friends’ names — you just call them all auntie and uncle. when i’m travelling for more than 50 miles, my parents always tell me to call when i get there — and anytime i get in the driver’s seat, my dad tells me to drive safely. the loneliness my dad feels when my mom is gone. the way my dad writes off some things that i find to be blatantly racist. hearing a lot of my dad’s story for the first time in a car.

added all together, man… that movie just got me. at the end of it, all 4 of us were in tears. as tracy pointed out, every child goes through a period of hating everything they came from, so it’s story that can touch everyone.

so yes — you, dear reader, should certainly go see it. it’ll probably rock you too.

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