Life At Point C

Experiencing Life along the Silk Road

The Telegram

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Family is huge in this part of the world. It is the end-all and be-all for a person. It is the one group that a person is “in” for better or for worse. Family is the most important unit in a person’s life and it is a huge disgrace to be “outcasted”. The aspect of family sticking together no matter what is very admirable, but I guess it depends on which side of the fence a person is standing. For example, if one needs money, he goes to the person who has the most money in his family and that person is obligated by family ties to give to the one asking. Great, right? Well it is if you’re the one who needs money, but not so great if you’re the one who everyone goes to when they need money. In the end family is the lifeline. It makes sense that when we read stories connected to family, most answers from students fall in line with this thinking.

One story we read was about an elderly mother who wanted to see her daughter because she had not seen her in three years and the mother felt that she wouldn’t survive the winter. The mother sent her daughter a telegram asking her to return home, even for one day just so that she could hold her daughter’s hand. The teacher then asked the students, “What do you think? Will the daughter return home?” All answered, “Yes. Of course she will.” The idea of a daughter not returning home to see her sick, possibly dying mother was almost inconceivable. “Why do you think that?” the teacher asked. “Well it’s her mother. She has to see her mother.” The daughter received the telegram at work, quickly stuffed it in her pocket and resolved to read it at home. Once home, she opened the envelope and read as her mother called her “darling daughter” and told her to come home so they could see each other before the mother dies. She placed the telegram on a desk and walked away, having decided the trip to her mother would be too bothersome and inconvenient. A couple weeks later the daughter received another telegram telling her that her mother had died. The daughter rushed to pack her things for the trip home, hoping to make it back for the funeral but came upon complications in getting a train. “Will the daughter make it home for the funeral?” the teacher asked. Most believed that she would.

The story ended with the daughter arriving 2 days after the funeral because she had missed the earlier train by mere minutes. She quietly entered and left the little town, too embarrassed to be seen and asked questions. The teacher asked what we felt for the mother and the daughter. They called the girl crazy or foolish for not returning home and ungrateful to her mother. Maybe she even deserved not being able to make it to the funeral. They felt pity for the mother and, almost, disdain for the daughter. It was a feeling shared by most. Our homework assignment was to pretend that we were sitting across from the daughter on her train ride back to the city. What would we say to her if she told us all the events that had happened? Some scolded her, others tried to comfort, but it all came down to the fact that she needed to be there for her one and only mother. No one else could fill the gap or role of a mother, and the daughter was foolish for not recognizing that earlier.

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