Family is great. In Asia, we value family and relatives. As long as you have some family ties, no matter how distant they are, you will still be treated as if you a part of the lineage family. Typically, a family consist of parents and child (siblings). The term “relatives” can be extensive, which may includes cousins, grandparents, grandchild, uncle, auntie, nephew, niece, second-cousin, great-uncle, great-auntie, -in laws, step-family, adopted parents and even foster parents. This close-knit culture is probably similar to clan, tribe, kin or ethnic concept.
I am not good with socializing with people especially strangers and my relatives are no exception. We rarely met so it feels like we are strangers sometimes. At most, I met them once a year especially during festive season. There were several times when I forgot my relative’s name but recognized them from their face. I would be glad if they didn’t recognized me (or acted like they didn’t see me) but most of the time, I am easily recognizable (which is a quirk of mine that put me in hard situations sometimes).
Okay, let’s just go directly to the title. Just a few days ago, some distant relatives of mine visited our home. If you are not an Asian, you will find this weird but yeah, I currently live with my parents (not that I am unable to live alone but it will be sad to leave them behind). The relatives and us never met before so I never heard of them until just recently. They are actually a family of our grandfather’s nephew – so that makes them a family of my father’s second-cousin. They were separated sea-apart during the World War 2 (Japanese invasion). Thanks to social media and the community, our cousins managed to reconnect with them and invited them to visit our country.
Although my cousins have announced of their visit earlier so that we can be prepared. But I can’t be prepared when it comes to meeting people that I don’t know so this announcement gave me a long period of dilemma of whether to meet or just leave a message to them while I went away traveling. It’s tough to be an introvert because part of me really wanted to meet them and another part of me wanted to run away from awkwardness. Many things came to my head while waiting for the day to come: What should I say? Will it be awkward to just sit and smile? What if they are super friendly? What if they are bad people? What should I do if they asked about my job or if I am married? What if the attention suddenly shifted to me? What if I said something wrong that can offend or hurt them? Should I just shake hand with them and then hide? What if they have kids and that kids want to play with me? How to break any awkward silence?
In the end, I decided to avoid the risk of being caught up in awkward situation. Coincidentally, I had to attend other matters so I didn’t get a chance to meet them on the. However, after knowing they are actually kind and sweet family, I felt bad for not meeting them. I regret that I am unable to talk with them about their life, unable to make then felt at least a short period of warmth and care while being our guest, and unable to give some motivation to their life. I was informed that their life was tough especially with our great-uncle health condition. They were not needy and did not even expect anything from us except the feeling if reunion.
Although I wasn’t there, I passed a gift to my parents for them. A unique commemorative of out gift that hopefully will bring sweet memories on their visit here and passed on to the next generation. I wish I am be able to meet them privately without all my family and other relatives around them (I prefer small groups and personal).
This isn’t the first time that I am contemplating of meeting someone. I wish I have the boldness to overcome these awkward feelings – traits that I admired on some of my friends.