Thursday, March 24, 2011

Family Secret

While Rushdie’s East, West is a collection of short stories, the work that most caught my attention was the final story of East. “The Prophet’s Hair” was tragically poignant, a tale of misfortune for nearly every character. As I read, I was reminded of the importance of family and the effect that they have on our lives.

Over the course of this semester, I’ve come to understand the significance of the word ‘home.’ It isn’t simply a place where you go to sleep and rest—a home is safe and familiar, filled with the people you care deeply for. A home is a great thing, but the family you share that home with makes all the difference.

I went home for spring break this year. Some of my friends fled to warmer climates, and others were involved with Spring Break Outreach. A part of me would have liked to take a trip to Florida or some tropical island so I could relax on a beach for five days. Instead, I found myself admiring the consistently cold temperature of New Jersey, despite one or two days when the weather painstakingly teased us with warmth and sunshine. While home, I decided to search through one of the closets that’s filled with pictures.

My mom keeps most of the photographs we have in bins, saying that she’ll organize them one day as a project. Wanting to help my mother, I dragged a number of bins to the center of the room and began digging through the massive amount of envelopes. You remember the days of disposable cameras, right? We must have gone through enough of them to supply a small army. There were so many pictures, which was a good thing for me because it meant that I wouldn’t reach the end of my trip down memory lane for quite some time.

I must have spent three straight hours flipping through picture after picture after picture. Some brought back memories, great times I spent with my mom, dad, and sister. Others I had no recollection of, and it was fun seeing my younger self interacting with the rest of my family, immediate as well as extended. I began to realize how extremely blessed I was to be a part of such a loving, caring family. Not every kid grows up with fond memories of his childhood; many want nothing more than to forget the nightmare that was home.

My parents have always been (and always will be) open and honest with my sister and me. They have always told us that we were adopted, and whenever we ask questions about our history, they give us straight answers (if they know the answer, of course). I’ve always respected that about my mom and dad, and recently I’ve noticed I’m able to connect with my parents on a deeper level. I am no longer a child in need of constant parenting; being in this state has given me opportunities to know and understand my mom and dad on an adult level.

In “The Prophet’s Hair,” we see what secrecy can do to two polar opposite families. An important concept I drew from this story was this: when the head of the house falls (meaning the man of the house), so too does the rest of his family. When Hashim chooses to keep the stolen relic, a type of curse is placed on his home; his actions following the discovery of the prophet’s hair are terrifying and abnormal. Before the vile was brought into their home, hurtful thoughts/secrets were kept hidden between the man and his wife and children. Hashim’s explosion toward his family provides relief for him; he must have been harboring those thoughts for a long time. Secrets tend to take a toll on the person keeping them, and this can be seen in “The Prophet’s Hair.”

The family’s home was no longer a place of safety and refuge with Hashim’s volatile nature. Huma’s desperation led her to an extremely dangerous man to help solve her problem. Her father, like many fathers today, became unbearable to live with.

How do you view your dad? Your mom? Is your family a safety net for you or a cause for dread?

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