They say that beneath your mother’s feet is heaven. That is perhaps why my mother tells me I am going to hell. I will not deny that I have disappointed and disobeyed my mother in numerous ways, especially at the brink of my college application process. She and my father had warned me to not apply to out-of-state colleges, yet I secretly trailed after my own aspiration in order to yearn for the certainty that I do not dream in vain. However, as I had followed my ambition of obtaining higher education, I believe that gradually I began distancing myself from my own mother—even more than I had already.
There is a silence that emits from my lips at the mention of my mother. I cannot describe our relationship in an optimistic tone without fabricating pieces of my story. We are not close. No, we are far from that. We are at a stalemate, exhausted from all the arguments dilating every passing year and finally settling on a deadlock.
While others speak of their mothers as their best friend, their “rock”, I speak of my mother as…my mother. No more. No less.
Then, I question what had gone wrong and if I truly was reprehensible for our detachment. I wondered, how can two different minds be juxtaposed with one another in bliss? Her traditional beliefs dominated her opinion and perspective on concepts, such as education, marriage, and girls. Growing up in a liberating country without the fear of restriction between male and female, I found it difficult to not question my value of education, marriage, and womanhood.
To me, a strong woman did not symbolize an oppressed, obedient wife of another man. A woman’s identity is far greater than just being a wife of a man. We have a name. We have a stature. We have a voice. And compromising my identity seemed unbearable and intolerable.
Her beliefs are not wrong. Traditions are there for a purpose. They were understood to be right. In many cultures, it is still believed to be right. Many women cherish and dream of their marriage, instead of education. They prepare to become a decent and respectable wife, instead of studying for their exams. No matter how Western society disagrees and protests against this belief, there is no wrong in valuing something different.
However, I believe, there is wrong in being ignorant and intolerant. We are all entitled to our own beliefs. Though my mother and I clash in terms of our values, I had hoped that in some way she could come to accept that education is my priority. And getting a higher education, whether it is in or out of New York City, is significant to me. Nevertheless, she still rejected my values and thus we grew apart.
Immediately, I became the disobedient girl who crossed all boundaries. I was the rebel. To be labeled with such hostility, because I decided to dorm in an all-women college, which was ranked the 32nd best liberal arts college, I had vacillated about myself and the society around me. Had I truly sinned? Was I going to hell because I disobeyed my mother? Was I going to hell for dorming in a college?
I ask God this very question all the time.